Entering Amirah Kassem’s walk-in is like stepping into a whimsical world bursting with sparkle and rainbows, colorful faux furs, and feathers. Kassem (whose mother is Mexican and father Kuwaiti) is the founder of New York City bakery Flour Shop, known for its “explosion” cakes, which are filled with candy. Like her edible delights, Kassem’s wardrobe is filled with personality. “My clothes are bright and happy, and I’m very serious about my sequins,” says Kassem, wearing a Wu-Tang Clan T-shirt under her signature pink overalls uniform. She completes her look with heart-printed socks, watercolor rainbow Vans sneakers, and a manicure of different hues on every nail.
Originally printed in the November 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia
“When you’re young, you’re instantly drawn to colors with no inspiration or influence, other than you’re just excited when you see them. That’s the way I look at clothes,” she says. For her first cookbook – out in April – she created 30 looks; one for every cake. One of her favorites is a Mary Katrantzou sweater coated with silver and rainbow sequins.
“I’m obsessed with trainers,” says Kassem about her shoe collection that includes a few hundred pairs of Vans. “I just received a new pair from its Vault Collection for Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday,” she remarks, adding that she has the entire Disney collaboration from the skater footwear brand. The founder’s son, Steve Van Doren, also custom makes designs for Kassem – one features the Flour Shop’s signature rainbow, while another showcases a print from the baker’s wedding invitation. Between bubblegum pink patent leather Louis Vuitton sneakers and Anya Hindmarch versions etched with graphics, she has a soft spot for Dior Homme designs.
“I know they’re for men, but the sneakers are really cool. I have these white leather high-tops that don’t have much of anything on them, but they have such a personality because they’re so loud in their shape,” she explains. You can also find Kassem slipping into Gucci loafers rendered in glitter, velvet, or patterned jacquard. Meanwhile, sparkly boots by Alice + Olivia and Patrizia Pepe are new additions to her collection.
RISE TO THE OCCASION
Every Sunday, Kassem hosts a dinner party at her art-filled Soho apartment – picture a homage to Takashi Murakami featuring 10 000 gumballs, a portrait of George Washington wearing a Louis Vuitton x Supreme sweatshirt by Ashley Longshore, and a commissioned piece by Shelby and Sandy featuring Mickey Mouse holding a rainbow cake. “I like entertaining at my house and I think of my table as one of my outfits,” she says. “My hosting closet is full of plates, linens, and table accessories. I would say it’s just as big as my regular closet,” she shares.
Embracing her dual heritage, you can expect the theme of her table-scapes to be menu driven. “If we’re having Mexican food, I’ll go all-out with handmade Mexican plates and even little pineapple accents. If we’re having Arabic food, I’ll have a completely different set. I host every week, so you can imagine how many collections I’ve racked up by this point,” she notes. “My husband says, ‘If you get one more set of plates or pair of sneakers, I don’t know where we are going to live.’ And whenever Vans sends shoes, he remarks, ‘Can they send closet space, too?’”
For running around every day, Kassem will sling an Ashish floppy tote bag covered in multicolored sequins over her shoulder. “I like that it’s structurally so simple, but elevated with pops of color and sparkle,” she says. Mini Louis Vuitton and Vans backpacks sprinkle her closet. However, a one-of-a-kind handmade Otomi embroidery design that she found in Mexico is her new favorite addition. Other carryalls in her collection include a powder blue Anya Hindmarch, a multicolored Cult Gaia, and a hot pink Givenchy.
“I love Alison Lou. She’s one of the first people I ever baked for, for an event she hosted. I like how she mixes high-end with silly accents, like these happy-face diamond stud earrings that I wear every day,” says Kassem. “Lebanon-born Suzanne Kalan has fun patterns and I like Spinelli Kilcollin when he’s playing with colors.” When Kassem wants to make a big statement, she reaches for her intricate Dannijo pieces or an eye-catching necklace by her friend Drew Ginsburg of Dylanlex.
What do cutesy hair bows, headbands, and ponytail ties have in common? They’re all much loved by Kassem. She tops her chestnut locks with sculptural, modular headbands from WXYZ and pulls it back with pony wraps and barrettes courtesy of Jennifer Behr. On her wedding day, she elevated her custom Rmine dress with two silk flower crowns from Wilhelm. Ask her what is her most treasured accessory, however, and she beams, “My smile.”