Twitter and Instagram have been on fire for last few days since the Gucci Cruise show in Florence. Many creatives realised the uncanny similarities between Gucci’s Cruise SS18 designs and 80’s designs from Harlem’s very own Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day. Another case of cultural appropriation? This case fits all too well with the copying homework meme.
Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele and his team responded with this statement: “Gucci’s ‘new Renaissance’ cruise 2018 collection saw a continuation of Alessandro Michele’s exploration of faux-real culture with a series of pieces playing on the Gucci logo and monogram, including a puff-sleeved bomber jacket from the 1980s in an homage to the work of the renowned Harlem tailor Daniel ‘Dapper Dan’ Day and in celebration of the culture of that era in Harlem… Alessandro is interested in a collaboration with Daniel Day that would celebrate the influence his creations had on fashion and hip-hop culture in the 80s”.
Dapper Dan was also tagged in posts by Gucci. A little too late perhaps? It begs us to question whether Gucci were ever planning to own up. Ironically, Dan’s original puffed sleeve monogram jacket was actually made from Louis Vuitton pieces. Louis Vuitton and many other fashion houses pursued legal battles against Dan. He was led to close-up shop in ’92.
Gucci’s homage brushes over the cultural relevance of Dapper Dan’s pieces – black fashion was unappreciated and underrated at the time. Growing up in East Harlem where style was a way out of poverty, Daniel made luxury fashion his own way. A story of aspiration we see from many New York natives like Nas, Jay Z, Notorious B.I.G and Diddy. It was essential to “look made”.
“Empower the best content creators or fuck you!” – Kanye West
Dan is recognised as pioneering a mash-up of Harlem 80’s hustler swag and avant garde style. He clothed the likes of Tyson, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa and Rakim in lavish couture that played with silhouettes. The streets loved it – his initial clients were the pushers and gangsters who had an eye for the finer things – minks, furs and silks. He still has some of the most reblogged designs on Tumblr, and is acclaimed by the likes of Vogue, CNN and New York Magazine.
What are your thoughts? When does appreciation become appropriation?