This marks a historic moment in fashion, as Gucci becomes the first powerhouse to acknowledge the evident influence of underground culture in a reputable industry such as high fashion, and we’re all so lucky to witness it. For those of you not acquainted with Dapper, back in the ‘80s, he owned a store in Harlem where he would sell customised logo-heavy products. Honestly, way before the logomania craze – you could say that he even started it. He also dressed hip-hop gods and goddesses from the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Salt-n-Pepa, Bobby Brown and LL Cool J.
Sadly, his store was no long after closed down by then corporate lawyer, now associate justice of the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor. You’d think that that would break the man, yet Dapper Dan took it as the highest compliment one could ever receive, getting noticed by someone he utterly respected. And he earned everyone’s respect, although only from the streets at the beginning. As André Leon Talley has stated, he’s been “the unsung hero of American fashion”, until now.
This collaboration marks a big step forward for Alessandro Michele in embracing and uplifting black culture and its excellence by giving Dapper Dan’s overlooked work – at least, by the fashion industry – the chance to shine on a major platform like Gucci. Justice is finally being served. The collection is based on archival classic Dapper Dan looks that have been Guccified and, therefore, given the Midas touch. In the lookbook we can see, photographed by Ari Marcopoulos, Harlem natives as well as Gucci’s signature models wearing late ‘80s-style washed jeans and tracksuit jackets with the classic jacquard GG symbol, which is in gold leather, inspired by car upholstery, created by Dapper Dan himself.
In these, we can see that his original 125th street store’s logo has served as inspiration to design a new Gucci logo in yellow. There’s more of his influence seen on sneakers, which feature the iconic three stripes colour way in its original version of red-green-red, as well as his own reinterpretation in gold-black-gold. Another clear branding of his is emphasised on these huge glasses emblazoned with Swarovski crystals, which spell Dapper Dan. Finally, the collaboration presents a phrase embroidered on a few garments, ‘E Pluribus Unum’ – which used to be motto of the United States – meaning “out of many, one”. This perfectly encapsulates Dapper Dan’s vision of finding unity in diversity.