If you have been paying recent attention to the place where fashion and music meet, then you know Dapper Dan. But if you grew up in New York in the 80's then Dapper Dan has been a long time part of your fashion iconography.
Photo by IllSurge
Daniel Day - Dapper Dan opened his first store, Dapper Dan's Boutique in Harlem, New York in 1982. Originally wanting to be a wholesaler, Dan faced racism in the industry when accounts refused to wholesale him high end items like furs and luxury goods because of his Harlem store location. Determined to follow his passion, Dapper Dan taught himself how to screen print textiles and began making his own incredibly ornate and detailed garments with bootleg versions of luxury brand icon prints. Catching the eye of local hip hop talent, Dapper Dan was soon asked to style artists for album covers and magazine shoots. His first well known client was LL Cool J. He then went on to dress Eric B + Rakim, The Fat Boys, Salt N' Peppa, and KRS One. The list goes on and on. In 1992 after a copyright law suit by Fendi, Dapper Dan was forced to shut down his boutique, but kept working and styling in Harlem for years, under the high fashion radar.
Photo Diane Dixon
In 2017, Dapper Dan emerged back into high fashion when Gucci imitated - that's putting it nicely- a jacket he created for Diane Dixon in 1989 (see above). Dixon shared an image of the jackets side by side calling Gucci out on their "inspiration." Gucci leaned into their mistake and asked Dapper Dan to collaborate with them on a collection along with a new store, Dapper Dan of Harlem.
The collection is one of my most favorite things ever. I've been a fan of Dapper Dan and his talent since I first saw Salt N' Peppa wearing shiny leggings and oversized leather jackets. And his work with Gucci is everything I could have imagined. Dapper Dan's Instagram feed is full of amazing photos of his work and wardrobe - his suits are unbelievable- along with photos of celebrity friends and admirers. You never know who is going to pop up and I love that.
Outside of Dapper Dan's designs, I really love his outlook on his work and coming together with Gucci after what could have been a real dumpster fire. One of his most recents posts on Instagram is a repost from Diddy + Nas. Dapper writes,
"Thank you Diddy! Thank you Nas! Your support is very special to me, because you both know the dark side of the struggle in this business. The public only sees the light side, IF we manage to get to the light side. I have no regrets about the 30 years that it took for me to get to where I am now. Whatever was taken from me, I will get back. God is refereeing this game."
You can follow along with Dapper Dan on Instagram here.