Some folks may have been surprised to see Dapper Dan’s Gucci designs featured so prominently by celebrities on the red carpet at the annual Met Gala, which took place Monday night in New York City. With the Italian luxury fashion house fresh off a racist scandal over a sweater that resembled blackface, the legendary Harlem fashion legend said at the time that he intended to hold Gucci accountable for that regrettable design.
On Monday night, it became clear how exactly he would deliver on his promise: by having his designs flood the Met Gala’s red carpet by way of a handful of influential celebrities. That was all according to plan, Dapper Dan told Elle.com ahead of the annual fundraising gala that benefits the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
Speaking about “[d]ire issues that concern my community,” Dapper Dan told Elle.com that he was addressing those concerns through his fashions. “People in the community are like, ‘Man, leave them! Leave Gucci and all this stuff.’ They don’t understand. Until I make them understand the beauty of this, the significance of this, the importance of this…”
That “significance” is deep, too.
Dan told Elle.com that people shouldn’t get it twisted when they see him walking on the red carpet at the Met Gala.
“[Y]ou know who’s walking behind me?” Dan asked rhetorically. “Nelson Mendela’s walking behind me, Jackie Robinson’s walking behind me, Martin Luther King, all of those people are behind me. All those people who’ve suffered the slings and arrows of oppression in those difficult moments.”
It wasn’t that long ago that Gucci helped shut down Dapper Dan’s Harlem store for using the Italian company’s logos without permission. Fast forward to 2017, about 30 years later, and the two were officially in business together after Gucci finally realized how far ahead of his time Dapper Dan was. Gucci gave Dan his own atelier in Harlem not too far from his original storefront back in the 1908s.
It was from the new Harlem location where Dan crafted the styles seen on the Met Gala red carpet Monday night. Celebrities who rocked Dan’s fashions included but were not limited to actress Regina King to model Ashley Madison to rapper 21 Savage.
Scroll down to see who wore which Dapper Dan designs Monday night.