Dapper Dan is dressed to the nines: pale green linen trousers with a navy blazer, a matching ascot tucked inside of a white crisp shirt, topped off with Gucci oversized embellished shades, a logo belt, and flower loafers. If it were anyone else, one might assume the attire is indicative of a special occasion; today, there is a photo shoot inside of his Gucci atelier in Harlem. But for the man who single-handedly influenced not only Harlem and hip-hop, but fashion overall with an aesthetic of “more is more,” his fit is an everyday uniform.  

Thirty years ago, Dapper Dan opened his Harlem boutique where he sold custom-made luxury clothing to everyone from LL Cool J to Eric B. and Rakim and Olympic track star Diane Dixon. His mission was to use luxury brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Fendi to create his own version of what high-fashion could look like for the people around him. Think Louis Vuitton sweat suits, Gucci fur jackets, and even decked-out car interiors. To him, luxury wasn’t about being subtle, it was about being seen. Hence, his use exclusively of the luxury brands’ logos, tenfold, lighting the spark for what we’d call “logomania” today.

Except there was one issue. Dapper Dan hadn’t been granted permission by Gucci, Fendi, or Louis Vuitton to use their logos, and was eventually issued a cease and desist, which later resulted in shutting down his boutique.

But while Dapper Dan might have closed up shop, his influence still lives on, especially on the fashion runways today. Back in June 2017, Gucci sent a model down the runway wearing a fur bomber jacket with Gucci logo puffer sleeves at its 2018 Cruise show. The jacket looked very similar to an Louis Vuitton one that Dapper Dan created for Diane Dixon in 1988. Gucci claimed it was paying homage to Dapper Dan, but many felt the fashion house was copying the legendary Harlem tailor. The controversy sparked conversations around what it really means to “pay homage” and how that should be done properly. Gucci Creative Director Alessandro Michele came out to say that the collection was indeed inspired by Dapper Dan and later took it a step further by offering Dapper Dan the opportunity to collaborate with Gucci, and most importantly reap the monetary benefits.

Now, Dapper Dan in collaboration with Gucci has released his first Gucci-Dapper Dan collection, which is inspired by his archive of pieces from the ‘80s and ‘90s, but updated with a slight twist on logos, fabrics, and appliques. There’s Gucci logo sweatsuits, backpacks, puffer jackets, fanny packs, ‘80s style jeans, and sneakers. Everything you’d need for a standout Dapper Dan fit.

“It's like I took something, a woman I was in love with and eloped because I didn't have permission. But now it's a sanctioned marriage,” Dapper Dan says.

Complex visited Dapper Dan at his atelier in Harlem to view the new collection. While there, we also talked to him about his inspirations, what he really thinks about streetwear, and black culture.

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