Harlem native Dapper Dan has been announced as the recipient of CFDA‘s Geoffrey Beene lifetime achievement award. The designer is best known for influential store, Dapper Dan’s Boutique, which he operated in Harlem from 1982–1992. Dapper Dan was known for supplying the City’s style conscious drug dealers, rappers and athletes with custom looks, including leather items screen printed with various luxury label logos, a technique the 77-year-old developed on his own.
The Harlem born and raised Dapper Dan whose real name is Daniel Day responded to the award on Instagram where he wrote, “Isn’t it ironic how the fashion world says that Dapper Dan won the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, without ever having a runway show?
“The streets of Harlem have been my runway for 35 years. Isn’t that where the major luxury brands got their inspiration from? Maybe logo-mania is an illusion. Thank you Harlem, I love you! Thank you to the CFDA for making me the first black designer to win this lifetime achievement award.
“Harnessing the Dapper Dan brand to Gucci, mounted it on a global track, now the whole world knows what Harlem always knew, that the Dapper Dan brand is a thoroughbred brand.”
While Dapper Dan never stopped designing, his business was upended in 1992 when Fendi took legal action against him for counterfeiting its logo and he was forced to shutter his store. In an ironic twist, his profile was elevated in 2017 when Gucci featured a knock off of a jacket Dapper Dan had designed for Olympian Diane Dixon.
Following an uproar on social media, Gucci designer Alessandro Michele reached out to Dapper Dan about working collaboratively with the label. In addition to creating several collaborative capsules, the Italian luxury label also established a Dapper Dan-directed Gucci atelier in Harlem.