Dapper Dan Considers His Next Move

Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day is a man with many options — and, after decades of being largely iced out of the luxury scene by big fashion houses, he’s happy to be mulling them all.

“I’m in a really magical place in terms of the transition from where I was to what I’m looking at now,” Day told BoF.

Day was speaking Thursday night at Marc Jacobs’ Madison Avenue store in New York at an LVMH-hosted event in celebration of Black History Month and the 50th anniversary of hip-hop music.

In a chat with television and radio personality Rocsi Diaz, Day discussed everything from his storied career dressing rappers like LL Cool J and Rakim to his opinion on Louis Vuitton’s appointment of Pharrell Williams as its men’s creative director.

“When it comes to translating culture, one side of the coin is fashion the other side of the coin is music,” Day said. “Pharrell is both sides of the coin so I’m excited to see what he brings about. He has a huge platform and I’m rooting for him.”

The Harlem couturier became known as the “king of knockoffs” in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when fashion houses brought legal action and helped orchestrate raids on his shop over creations that played with luxury brand logos and designs. At the same time, Day’s creations were frequently referenced in mainstream fashion, though designers at big brands rarely acknowledged his influence.

After Gucci was accused of copying a Day design in 2017, the Kering-owned brand financed the rebirth of his business and tapped him to head up its diversity council. He’s since collaborated with The Gap, and been the subject of profiles in numerous fashion publications.

Day describes fashion’s recent fixation on giving him his proverbial flowers — Corey Smith, head of diversity and inclusion for LVMH North America, gifted Day with a blinged out bottle of Moët Hennessy among other items following his chat with Diaz — as akin to arriving at the “pearly gates.”

Since the height of Day’s Gucci collaboration, the industry as a whole has made public steps to embrace Black designers and talent, more broadly, especially following the social justice uprisings of 2020. This year for the first time, LVMH plans to host yearlong programming, including an activation at Art Basel in Miami, to celebrate Black history and hip-hop’s influence on fashion. Like several of its peers, the company has pledged to interview and hire more people of colour for senior level roles; it’s also targeting $1 billion in annual spending with “diverse-owned businesses,” Smith said.

“Understanding what [Day] went through to be embraced in this industry actually helps guide me in terms of the strategy I need to set to help the next generation,” Smith said.

As for what a long-term partnership between Day and LVMH could look like, Smith said Day “is a free agent” and that the pair were “working it out.”

In an email Friday Smith noted that “while there’s interest, LVMH and Dapper Dan are not currently working on any collaborations.”

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