Dapper Dan set to receive CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award

Legendary clothing designer Dapper Dan has firmly cemented her status in the lineage of black fashion icons over the past decades and will be honored for it in historic fashion in November.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) announced Wednesday that Dapper Dan will receive the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award at the CFDA 2021 ceremony, the first black designer to receive the honor.

Designer Dapper Dan attends the premiere of his capsule collection during New York Fashion Week: The Runway Shows at Spring Studios on September 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin / Getty Images for IMG Fashion)

With the announcement, the 77-year-old Harlem, New York native also becomes the first designer to win the award without hosting a traditional runway show according to Vogue – a fact that Dapper Dan called “ironic” in an Instagram post commemorating his latest achievement.

“Isn’t it ironic that the fashion world says Dapper Dan won the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, without ever having a runway? he wrote. “The streets of Harlem have been my trail for 35 years. Isn’t that where the big luxury brands were inspired? Maybe the logo-mania is an illusion. Thank you Harlem, I love you!

Off-White: Runway - Paris Fashion Week Women Fall / Winter 2020/2021

Dapper Dan’s path to notoriety in the fashion world has certainly taken a different path than many previous CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award winners, such as Rick owens, Tom ford, Vera wang, Bob mackie, Betsey johnson, Norma Kamali, and Narcisco Rodriguez.

Instead, Dapper Dan, real name Daniel’s Day, carved out his own way in the 1980s by personalizing streetwear with DIY logo prints from top fashion brands for legendary MCs LL Cool J, Eric B. & Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, KRS-One and more.

Dapper Dan served the majority of his original customer base through his original Harlem-based store, Dapper Dan’s Boutique, until several brands sued the designer for his unauthorized use of their logos, resulting in the final closure of the store in 1992.

After spending more than ten years continuing to design clothes in the fashion underground, the legendary designer resurfaced in public limelight in 2017 after a Gucci collection featured a mink jacket that looked surprisingly similar to the one he had designed for Olympian. Diane dixon in the late 1980s, leading critics to accuse the brand of appropriating the work of a black designer whom the fashion world had tried to dismiss decades earlier.

“Cultural appropriation and cultural exchange boil down to one thing: the economy,” said Dapper Dan. The Guardian. “An exchange means that someone gets something, for everything they have. Ownership means you get nothing.


In 2018, Gucci hired Dapper Dan to design his own capsule collection, opening a by-appointment-only workshop for the designer in Harlem as a tribute to his old store which was closed.

Dapper Dan will receive the award, celebrating his years of creativity, at the 2021 CFDA Awards on November 10 at The Pool Room in New York City.

“Thanks to CFDA for making me the first black designer to win this award of excellence,” Dapper Dan wrote on Instagram. “By exploiting the Dapper Dan brand at Gucci, by putting it on a global runway, the whole world now knows what Harlem has always known, that the Dapper Dan brand is a thoroughbred brand. “

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