Legendary Harlem designer Dapper Dan has been given the keys to an upcoming Gucci capsule collection set to be previewed and released in stores next Spring. Dan has also been made the face of Gucci’s new Fall ’17 tailoring ad campaign, as you can see below.
Dan (real name Daniel Day) had been an integral part of the fashion of several black entertainers and athletes during the 80s and early 90s, creating some of the culture’s most iconic looks for the likes of Mike Tyson, LL Cool J, Eric B. and Rakim, and many others. Dan began creating these pieces after seeing that luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton were not making clothes for people of color, and hoped that his designs would be a way for people in his community to enjoy such brands.
The announcement of Dan’s collaboration with Gucci comes out after controversy earlier this year involving the Gucci Cruise collection ’18 show in Florence, Italy back in May, in which creative director Alessandro Michele had a model wear a mink jacket with ballooned sleeves (at 4:08 mark) which was essentially a replica of Dan’s 1989 jacket which he had designed for Olympic medalist Diane Dixon. When photos of the Gucci jacket surfaced, outrage on the Internet ensued as Dan was not consulted by the brand whatsoever, prior to the show in Florence. Even Dixon herself was upset by the replica, posting this on her Instagram:
"Bish" stole my look! Give credit to @dapperdanharlem He did it FIRST in 1989! #gucci #GucciRipOff Now they get it! Long time overdue! @iamaprilwalker @tammyfordagency #DesignerWars #louisvuitton #LouisVuittonMinkJacket #dianedixonolympian @usmarothonmann @677flycreative @pam_boy @spaceodditykelly @i_am_audrey_ #dapperdanharlem @tom.prior @balleralert @theshaderoom
Although the Gucci Instagram account posted the next day that the jacket was created in homage to Dapper Dan, Michele himself never labeled it as a homage, instead stating, “I understand that I am putting my hands in a kind of very delicate playground, the black community. But I love the black community. I think they have a big voice in terms of fashion.”
Dan had been surprised to see Gucci’s version of his jacket, yet said that he had expected to be copied since he first opened up his shop.
“My store first opened, and I couldn’t even get designer garments in there, nobody would sell to me. I’m talking 1982. This is 2017. That’s already behind me. The fact that it has to be two different worlds, I had already accepted that. I was just content with satisfying the people in my community.”
Dan had opened up his iconic boutique back in 1982 with hopes that the brands he would use in his pieces would purchase the pieces from him and provide him with fabrics to create more, but was rejected and sued on numerous occasions, ultimately resulting in the closing of his shop in 1992.
Dan now hopes that some of his original tailers will join him in his plans to re-open his shop, which will be “powered” by Gucci, who will finally provide Dan with raw fabrics and other materials.
Among the people who helped make the partnership come about is Stephen Stoute, the founder and CEO of the brand development and marketing firm Translation. Here’s what he had to say about the relationship between Dan and Gucci:
“The thing that’s amazing is, what’s being celebrated today was shut down. The couture guys were sitting in Italy, in Paris, deciding to shut it down, rather than embrace it. Now we look up in 2017, and Dan is the feature in their global advertising campaign. They’re releasing a collection that’s going to be in all locations around the world. We’re bringing Gucci to Harlem.”
Dan has a memoir coming out in 2018 detailing his work since his shop has closed, including pieces he’s made for the likes of Floyd Mayweather, and others. You can find out more about Dan by visiting his website, Dapper Dan of Harlem.