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NEW YORK — Chances are you’ve already spotted DJ Coleman Feltes. Or, at the very least, you’ve heard him spin. He’s the extremely well-groomed “turntablist” who holds a near monopoly on fashion events. Whether it’s a Gucci show in Milan, a Versace store opening in New York or an Yves Saint Laurent party in Paris, Feltes is the handsome face whose DJ sets have become the soundtrack of the fashion cognoscenti.
Born in Minneapolis, Feltes developed a love for music at an early age, when he discovered his father’s hefty record collection. “Believe it or not, my early music influences were Simon and Garfunkel,” he says. He splurged on his first set of turntables at 16 and moved to New York in 1990 after finishing high school. “Hip-hop was just coming out,” Feltes remembers. “I had this desire to work at a record label, DJ and work in music, and I knew I had to get to New York.”
He paid his dues doing time at the Coffee Shop in Union Square and later scored gigs at the Sound Factory and Palladium. By the mid-Nineties, Feltes had found fashion. “What’s so intriguing about a fashion show is the amount of work and production that goes into 13 minutes,” he says. “But what I really love about it is telling the story behind the collection, the inspiration behind the designer.” And the same goes for the parties he plays, which feature an eclectic blend of top 40 hits and esoteric club cuts, both old and new: “The music sets the mood and the energy of any room, any party, any space,” he says. Three years ago, Feltes’ status was cemented when Amy Sacco offered him some prime DJ real estate: a Thursday night residency at Bungalow 8. “I love Coleman. He represents style 24/7,” says Sacco. “His look, his music, his life.”
Perhaps because of his success in this exclusive coterie, he now eschews being called a DJ. “For the last seven years, I’ve been calling myself a sound stylist,” Feltes says. “Which is really understanding pop culture and knowing how music works in different environments.” And he’s branching out with more mainstream endeavors. “I also do music for commercials, and I’m eager to start working in film,” he says. But first, he’s putting together a Bungalow 8 compilation disc, which should hit record shelves later this year.
This story first appeared in the July 7, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
— Derek Blasberg