For decades, visionary Dapper Dan has tapped into the power of innovation to play an instrumental role in shaping the landscape of fashion and the Harlem native will be honored for his contributions to the industry. According to WWD, he will receive the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award.
The accolade is historic as the fashion icon—whose real name is Daniel Day—will become the first Black designer in the CFDA’s 59-year history to receive the honor. Day’s journey in fashion is one that exemplifies the power of reimagination. He took an innovative approach to design and production, using textiles that featured the logos of brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci to create streetwear-inspired pieces that were donned by the likes of LL Cool J, Mike Tyson, Salt-N-Pepa, drug kingpins and others during the 80s. With every stitch, his creations embodied the flair, exuberance and spirit of hustle that flowed through Harlem—and still does today. What the self-taught garment maker was creating in his boutique, nestled in the heart of the neighborhood on 125th street, would birth a movement and cement him as a power player in the realm of fashion.
After going underground for some time, designs that resembled Day’s creations were spotted on Gucci’s runway in 2017, sparking backlash. Day later partnered with the global fashion brand to open a Harlem-based luxury atelier. The 77-year-old innovator says he has used fashion to evoke something deeper. “What I’ve done in fashion, and in all my endeavors, is about looking for the angle,” he told Vanity Fair in an interview. “I was raised to do that. Looking for the angle, looking for the side that other people don’t see, when it becomes necessary for me to see something different.” The 2021 CFDA Awards is slated to take place on November 10.
The honor comes nearly two years after he released his memoir Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem.