As Oscar Wilde once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” When Gucci’s Alessandro Michele sent out a mink jacket for a Cruise collection show in Florence that was nearly a verbatim remake of Harlem’s iconic designer, Dapper Dan a.k.a. Daniel Day, the internet went wild with accusations of cultural appropriation. But the way Gucci and Michele saw it, the jacket was an homage to Dapper Dan’s original, which had been made for the Olympian Diane Dixon in 1989. “For me, we can talk about appropriation a lot,” Michele told The New York Times. “I didn’t put a caption on it because it was so clear. I wanted people to recognize Dapper on the catwalk. It wasn’t appropriation, it was a homage, to me.”
But out of controversy was born a beautiful new partnership in which Gucci has supported Dapper Dan in reopening his own Harlem Atelier. Twenty-five years after the closing of Day’s original boutique in 1992, Gucci has helped him reopen his iconic studio on Lenox Avenue in Harlem not far from his original location, which will be open on a “by appointment only” basis starting in January 2018. Day also hopes to employ some of his original tailors. Here Day will create one-of-a-kind custom pieces using Gucci’s raw materials, fabrics, prints, embroidered patches, and hardware. The 4,700-square-foot space in an historic brownstone with a grand high-ceilinged parlor floor was designed by A.B. Van Dusen for Edward Roberts in 1887. The space will feature European vintage furniture and accessories and a selection of Persian rugs, as well as archival photograph’s from Dapper Dan’s heyday. To celebrate the partnership, a Gucci x Dapper Dan capsule collection will be part of Gucci’s Fall 2018 collection, available in Gucci stores worldwide.
“Everyone paid homage to Dapper Dan, but no one ever paid him,” said Dapper Dan in a statement. “The people have spoken and Gucci has listened. Nothing has been more significant in the Harlem cultural scene than Alessandro and Gucci coming to Harlem and partnering with Dapper Dan.”