By Tobias Carroll / July 6, 2019

Menswear Lessons From Dapper Dan

The style icon’s memoir is due out on July 9

Dapper Dan
Dapper Dan attends "When They See Us" World Premiere at The Apollo Theater on May 20, 2019 in New York City.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

In the 1980s, Daniel R. Day opened Dapper Dan’s Boutique in Harlem, where he revolutionized streetwear, turning established ideas of fashion on their head and helping to create a look for the burgeoning hip-hop scene around him. Among the artists who memorably wore his designs: LL Cool J and Eric B. & Rakim.

Dapper Dan’s Boutique closed in 1992, but Dapper Dan himself has continued to break new ground in the years since then, including a collaboration with Gucci and providing the attire for numerous attendees at this year’s Met Gala. His creations can be found in the collection of the Smithsonian, and Dapper Dan himself has spoken at MoMA

This month brings with it a new memoir, Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem, which explores the full scope of his life and the constant evolution of his distinctive aesthetic. In an expansive conversation with David Marchese for The New York Times Magazine, Dapper Dan discussed everything from his shifting relationship with fashion houses to evolving ideas around masculinity. Throw discussions of gentrification, The Beatles, and cultural appropriation into the mix and you have a fascinating and enlightening read.

“There’s always going to be this battle, consciously or unconsciously and within every one of us, between materialism and spiritualism,” he told Marchese in the interview. It’s one of several notable points that he makes of the course of the conversation, which also involves invocations of some of Dapper Dan’s notable clients over the years. 

The interview as a whole is a fascinating look at the history and mindset of a fascinating designer. If that leaves you wanting more of Dapper Dan’s observations on life and art, fear not: Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem hits bookstores on July 9th.

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