Last night at the first-ever Fashion Los Angeles Awards, Kanye West presented the Innovator of the Year Award to Mazdack Rassi. Style.com reported that the rapper spoke about his admiration for Milk Studios’ head honcho, even revealing that Rassi took him in when he didn’t have an office to work on his upcoming adidas collaboration. “This guy let me, a celebrity designer, work at Milk Studios when adidas couldn’t figure out where my offices were … And I promised him that I was going to be fucking good. It wasn’t about me being a celebrity," said Kanye.
The anecdote should come as no surprise to those familiar with Rassi’s career thus far, and especially his creative beehive, Milk. Over the last decade, Rassi has grown Milk from being a for-hire space for events or photographers to a full-service creative conglomerate—basically a one-stop shop if you are looking to launch and build a brand in the fashion or creative realms. Milk does everything, including photography, design, and development for the print, digital, and physical domains. It’s also a film-production company, a gallery and exhibition space, and a casting agency. It hosts the dopest fashion and music industry events, including the listening party for Kanye's epic album Yeezus. It even started its own fashion week, MADE, which helped launch the careers of Alexander Wang and Hood By Air's Shayne Oliver (both Wang and Oliver went through MADE’s mentorship program, free of charge).
Despite the success and non-stop growth, Rassi never lost touch with the core objective of Milk: to nurture creativity and support visionary talent.
"If we didn’t do a studio, we would have probably opened a hotel," he told Refinery29 back in 2013. "I think it was being a waiter when I was younger or the Middle Eastern thing in me. Hospitality—that’s always been crucial.”
While anyone can look at his resume and be impressed by the accolades, the full breadth of Rassi’s impact on fashion might never be seen. “He told me a story about this kid that stood on his steps and shit,” said Kanye in his introduction, “waiting for an opportunity to design, and went on to become the youngest American to run a French house called Balenciaga. He believed in that kid back then.” That kid would grow up to be Alexander Wang.
While a day in Rassi’s shoes might make most of us dizzy, he’s driven by his desire to constantly create and push the boundaries of innovation. “I never wanted to be a ‘space for rent.' I think it’s a horrible concept,” he told Refinery29 in 2013, “I wanted to be part of making the ideas. Anyone can give a service, but very few people can be part of making the ideas."
Kanye is known for his way with words, and he summed it up perfectly as he presented his friend with the award last night: “I fucking love this guy, and he sets an example to us as a humanitarian, as a visionary, and as an innovator.”