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Stylist Rashad "Dahsar" Calhoun is giving Teens the Red Carpet Treatment for Prom

Rashad "Dahsar" Calhoun is a stylist that has taken his talents beyond working with celebrity clients. He has also used his styling and design skills to help teens on one of the biggest nights of their high school lives. We talked to Calhoun about his background, career and philanthropic work.

When did you first develop an interest in fashion and what inspired this interest?

When I was around 12 years old I always had an interest in designing, art and colors. My mom would buy me different clothing from different brands, and at that time, I wasn't really into the trends, so I used to cut up my jeans, add chains and add my own designs and colors. My friends and family used to say that was dope, so I kept going with it. When I was 13, I purchased my first sewing machine. A woman showed me how to thread, and it was all over. After that, I started designing my own T-shirts and started making dresses. My inspiration was Alexander McQueen. I loved the daring style of how he put his patterns and colors together. He wasn't really into following the trends either, and I gravitated toward his work.

When did you decide that you wanted to develop this interest into a career?

I didn't think it would get this big back then. I believe I was 17 when I made my first prom dress for one of my classmates. After that, I said, "I can really do this." I started getting new clients every year for prom, like 4 or 5. Now I get at least about 60 clients every year. With me being self-taught, there was no school I wanted to go to and start all over again and undo what I had already learned. That is why I didn't attend college because I already knew what to do.

Fashion traditionally hasn’t been considered a career path for men; did you get any push back from your community on this decision?

Actually, my community was very supportive. Of course, some guys in my class at high school would joke about it, so there were times I thought about not doing it. But, I gained confidence and worked through it. The funny thing is that some of the guys who teased me in high school are some of my biggest clients. It's so funny, and we laugh about it sometimes. I definitely want to be inspirational to others who go through that problem. Sometimes gender and labels impact people with pursuing or having opportunities for certain jobs. Fashion is definitely not just a career for women, it is for everyone. In case people didn't know, in a lot of countries, men produce and create clothes and many of the most successful designers are men. You are a celebrity stylist, but you are also a fashion designer. Do you remember the first piece you ever created?

The first piece I ever created was actually a pair of jeans that I took apart, added chains to it, bleached them, and added all of these different patches. After that, I started getting into shirts, button-ups and dresses.

How do you differentiate your creative approach between styling clients and designing clothes?

When you are designing clothes it is different because it is coming fully from your point of view; you have creative control. But, when you are styling for a client, you have to learn their style, their body type and the colors that work for them. You have to learn about the event they are going to because you can't design a ball gown for a client to go on a TV set. You have to know how to dress your clients appropriately for each occasion.

You have also extended your love of fashion into philanthropic work. Can you tell us about the initiative you started which led you to be called “King of Prom?”

Pretty much my family was very supportive, especially when it comes to prom time. We have made it into a big thing in my city where we give teenagers the royal treatment and they feel like celebrities. It is a huge fashion show for our community. Over the years they have seen where I have started, all the way up until now and they named me the Prom King. This year, however, I did so many clients that they said I just killed the game, so they made me the Prom Bully! I just got that nickname last week. What was the response to your initiative, and do you plan to continue it post-pandemic?

The response was huge, and of course, we want it to keep getting bigger and bigger. I love the reaction from the kids and the families - just seeing the joy and excitement on their faces. Post-pandemic, we are going to keep pushing ahead. I have so many things going on and that I want to do for the community to expose them to fashion, design, modeling, and the industry overall. How do you see your fashion footprint growing in the future?

I want to definitely open up my own boutique. I also put together a modeling warehouse, so kids who want to get into fashion can learn how to sew and get into fashion and do things other than just going to these agencies and getting sold false opportunities. It will be like a boot camp - participants will learn how to style clients, how to design, and we will also have modeling classes. Everything rolled up into one big program. Also, I am working on my first annual "Dahsar Ball" that I will be having every year. It is themed. This year it is themed as the Adult Prom. People can come and show their creativity and walk and have a great time. This year it will take place on August 28th.

Photo Credit: Rashad "Dahsar" Calhoun


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