DJ Cardi from Miami has been entertaining crowds for over 25 years. His DJ career has taken him worldwide, performing for renowned personalities and the best venues imaginable, including film festivals, fashion shows, and sold-out nightclubs. Classical piano duos, jazz bands, orchestras, and soulful gospel singers have all performed at his live shows. Aside from his music, Cardi's fashion sense is what distinguishes him in the overcrowded DJ market.
His style is sophisticated and elegant yet fun and timeless. You probably would think a DJ is more laidback and contemporary, but his unique style sets DJ Cardi apart from the rest, and he wears it well.
The Pegasus World Cup is one of his favorite events to DJ and dress for. Since 2017, the Pegasus World Cup has been the most iconic thoroughbred racing event of the year, attracting celebrities, influencers, and die-hard fans. "As much as I enjoy watching the horses on the track, I also enjoy seeing what people are wearing. A perfectly tailored suit with a customized hat sets the tone for me," DJ Carid says.
Hats have grown in popularity over the last few years. Artists wear them to Art Basel, and musicians wear them to live performances around town. It's the accessory that stands out, you can accessorize hats anyway, and they are always an excellent complement to a great outfit.
Cardi's signature straw hat, the boater, aka the skimmer, is best known for being worn by 1920s barbershop quartets, Venetian gondoliers, Coco Chanel, and Buster Keaton. The music maestro changes the ribbon fabrics for each performance to match his outfit.
Below DJ Cardi talks to us about his unique fashion style, influences and life as a famous DJ.
What inspired you to create an iconic hat style for the Pegasus World Cup?
DJ Cardi: Years before the Pegasus made its way to South Florida, I discovered the boater hat and instantly fell in love with it. When you watch old videos from the Kentucky Derby, everyone in the crowd wears a hat. I began with the iconic red and blue boater and began customizing them years after to match my suits and outfits.
You have a particular style that sets you apart from other DJs; how would you describe it, and why do you think it's so authentic?
DJ Cardi: I'd say my style is putting myself into classic menswear. I always think about the socks, the lapel pin and the feather in my hat. These are the details that stand out to me in my fit. When I DJ during the daytime, I like tropical patterns to match my surroundings. It's authentic because it's part of who I am. I want people to smile when they look at me. As a performer, I want to entertain and leave people feeling better than they did before.
How do you think Miami influences your style?
DJ Cardi: Miami influences my style so much! The year-round sunny weather reminds me to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes. The palm trees influence the tropical prints on my shirts. There really are no rules here when it comes to personal style. Miami is a place you can be yourself, and I love that!
You are all about elegance and the suits with the hats; what are your favorite colors on a suit and hat ribbon?
DJ Cardi: My everyday hat ribbon color is navy blue, so I try to wear suits that match that shade. When I have a special event, I change out the hat ribbon to match the color suit I designed. I just designed a lavender, double-breasted suit that I can't wait to wear!
Any recommendations on where to shop for hats?
DJ Cardi: Hats and Hats in North Miami is my go-to hat shop in the magic city. They have hundreds of hats, fascinators, and fedoras to choose from, and the milliners, or hatmakers, can customize them to match your style.
Tuluminati is another local hat shop I love. All hats are 100% handmade by Mexican artisans.
Theme Dresser offers wide-brimmed, hand-painted straw fedoras perfect for Spring and Summer months in South Florida.
High Hat Couture specializes in vintage and antique hats for women. Based in North Dakota.
Finchy Baby Hats is where you’ll find the perfect, one-of-a-kind derby fascinators. Based in Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby.
Why do you think the Pegasus World Cup is the ideal location to showcase one's style, and do you think the event pays homage to classic old-money style?
DJ Cardi: I think the Pegasus World Cup taking place in South Florida elevates the way horse racing was portrayed. The derby fashion pays homage to old Hollywood, proper London and classic Kentucky Derby days. Miami is a city full of creatives, so I like to see what everyone brings
Why is it important for you to have a unique, very sophisticated style to stand out in the Miami DJ scene?
DJ Cardi: Miami is the hottest city in the world, making it a competitive market for nightlife and hospitality, so it's only right I put effort into everything I do and make it my own. I've seen trends come and go, but the classics never go out of style. Dressing up makes me feel good too. It's like saying hello before you even open your mouth.
Your style is very elegant, and many people wouldn't associate it with a DJ. What do you think?
DJ Cardi: I've always looked at myself as an artist first and foremost. I'm very inspired by the jazz musicians of the 1960's and Desi Arnez' character in "I Love Lucy," Ricky Ricardo. As a DJ, I am the conductor of vibes for the event. I also understand that I am a brand and I want to associate myself with the best there is.
How would you describe your sound to people who might not know you, especially those outside Miami?
DJ Cardi: My sound is diverse, like the culture in Miami. Depending on where I'm playing, I can adapt to the room. I've traveled around the world and had residencies abroad, so I've been able to connect with different people and bring those elements into my set. Ultimately I'd say the roots of my sound are soul and funk. Without that, we wouldn't have disco, RnB, house, and even salsa. My true passion is performing with live bands, singers and orchestras. It just elevates the whole experience.
What got you into becoming a DJ, and what's the most challenging aspect of the job?
DJ Cardi: Growing up, I remember how happy music made my family during our holiday parties. My cousins got me into collecting RnB and hip-hop cassettes and CDs in the 90s, and I eventually started my DJ career at the age of 12, playing for my classmates on vinyl.
The most challenging part of being a DJ is trying to please a room full of people that you've never met before. There's a formula and psychology behind building a room and playing songs at the right time to create those unforgettable moments. I like the challenge!
Anything exciting you're working on?
DJ Cardi: I'm really looking forward to my Shway Live pop-up shows coming up. In February, I'm showcasing 1960's funk classics with my band, and in March, I'm collaborating with a string trio to play some of my favorite iconic hip-hop songs. I'm also planning on releasing more original music I've written and produced later this year.
Photography by: Courtesy of Kristina Ushakova @good_vibes_image at Carousel Club, Lee Le