Cassie Coane and Harley Viera-Newton, 22-year-old D.J. besties of the moment, are sick, sick, sick. Over a two-hour lunch at La Esquina, the duo—who’ve become the package-deal unit of party-soundtrack cool, 2010 edition—deploy the word about two dozen times to describe: vintage-print dresses; Cassie’s black 1997 Jeep Cherokee she just drove cross-country from L.A.; the Tints, Harley’s Cardigans-esque all-girl high-school band; what people in clubs say when they play early-eighties post-punk sets (“but they don’t really dance,” admits Cassie); melodies that inevitably are a part of a good “rager” (their preferred term for a track that gets people dancing); getting a $100 tip to go against their principles and play a Bon Jovi song; the American South, which Cassie says she’s obsessed with; their lives when they found themselves D.J.-ing a party at the club Le Baron in Paris during Fashion Week in March and invited some cute Canadian skater boys they knew over from Barcelona to hang with them.
“We were like, ‘Our life is sick,’ ” says Cassie.
“Every time something like that happens, we look at each other and high-five each other,” says Harley, who shows up for lunch in a floral spaghetti-strap sundress and Ralph Lauren lace-ups—all vintage—drinks iced coffee, and doesn’t order food.
Cassie arrives in a nautical-stripe minidress and white Keds, stubbing out a cigarette and ordering a michelada. She asks for a salad.
The fashion world always needs its twentysomething D.J.’s to spin up-to-date music at its many, many events. To provide the appropriate soundscape to envelope the whole endeavor in the urgent self-assurance of Right Now. There was the exotic Justine D(elaney), whose “Motherfucker” party set the electroclash tone of the early aughts. (She became a pastry chef.) Then came Andrew Andrew, two gay guys who dressed up as nerd twins and played music off their iPods. Fashion D.J. mania may have reached its apogee a few years ago with the Misshapes—that death-stare trio of Leigh Lezark, Geordon Nicol, and Greg Krelenstein—whose weekly party of the same name and shared look of black-lacquered hair slashed against vampirishly white faces became so iconic it ended up on the runway for Hedi Slimane’s Dior Homme.
Now come Harley and Cassie, who were both born on February 17, 1988, and grew up in L.A. They project a more wholesome, sunny, sweet “California Gurls” milk-and-honey image. Wearing adorable, colorful minidresses while they spin the Cramps, they’re more about prosperity then perversity. They are neither, nor do they cater to the dirty-boho-Bushwick set. As a matter of fact, Harley and Cassie, who both live in Soho (but not in the same apartment) and strike a vintage-clothes balance in their style that is unmistakably unimpoverished, hardly seem to know anybody who lives in Brooklyn at all. And they’ve become the party D.J.’s that the great recession needed.
Harley’s British record-exec father, Ashley Newton, signed the Spice Girls and Massive Attack, among other pop stars, and became president of Columbia Records earlier this year. Her mother, Cristina Viera-Newton, is a Brazilian model turned co-founder of the fashionista-approved Tom Binns jewelry line (which Harley, a good daughter, talks up consistently in interviews). Harley, who sometimes models, got her mother’s exotic looks and kept a hint of her father’s accent (she also plays bass). At lunch, she’s carrying a brand-new, massive Dior bag (complete with a Miu Miu kitty cat she’s attached)—she’s the official D.J. and social ambassador for Dior’s makeup line. Her teddy-bear cute, 26-year-old boyfriend, James Cruickshank, owns a T-shirt company and is a partner in the new East Village burger joint Whitmans.
Cassie, whose full figure, breathless pronouncements, and party-ready social energy evoke a millennial Mama Cass, is the daughter of what she describes as “hippies.” Her father is Jim Coane, the TV producer behind the PBS preschool series Dragon Tales, and her mother, Amy Coane, runs the store at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Cassie is currently single. As for her last boyfriend, she says, “I don’t even want to give him the honor of talking about him.”
Harley attended Harvard-Westlake (the Dalton of L.A.), while Cassie and her friends went to the more bohemian Crossroads. They met when they were both freshmen: “One of Cassie’s friends was wearing the same Japanese Super Lovers sweater and I was like, ‘They’re so cool, they get me,’ ” Harley says.
“They dressed very cool” says Harley. “This is about 2003.”
“It was, like, ages ago!” exclaims Cassie.
Harley says she didn’t fit in at Harvard-Westlake wearing her mother’s Comme des Garçons dresses while the other girls wore T-shirts or Juicy Couture. She transferred to Crossroads junior year.
After graduation, they moved to New York. Harley went to NYU, where she studied Egyptology, and Cassie to the New School, where she majored in cultural studies after ditching an impulse to be a journalist. Both just graduated, and the torpid job market isn’t really troubling them. “We’re like, ‘Our jobs are too fun, this isn’t real life,’ ” says Harley.