“Everyone paid homage to Dapper Dan, but no one ever paid him,” says sartorial star Daniel Day—the fashion icon known as Dapper Dan and author of Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem. The Harlem-based living legend is celebrated for his custom creations for celebrities, athletes, and hip-hop artists in the 1980s—from LL Cool J’s remixed Gucci outerwear to Salt-N-Pepa’s eight-ball jackets. “There is a part in our show where that jacket has its own moment,” says Pepa. “And the crowd loses their mind when it comes out.”
Salt-N-Pepa in matching Dapper Dan jackets in 1987. PHOTO BY JANETTE BECKMAN/REDFERNS/GETTY IMAGES
Thanks to his influence, Dan received the CFDA’s Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award this fall—making him the first Black designer to get the award. In 2018, Dan collaborated with Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele to honor his legacy and Harlem with a 4,700-square-foot space offering exclusive, bespoke garments crafted using Gucci fabrics, prints, embroidered patches, and hardware. The historic brownstone on Lenox Avenue pays homage to Dapper Dan’s original boutique, which closed in 1992. “The streets of Harlem have been my runway for 35 years,” says Dan. “Isn’t that where the major luxury brands got their inspiration from?”
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