Dapper Dan is the blueprint for our culture in hip-hop. He defined fashion in “the hood” and in celebrity culture. According to him, dapper no longer belonged just to Wall Street and business professionals; Dan claimed the term for the Black community. The first outfits of his that I remember were on the cover of Eric B. and Rakim’s album Paid in Full—they were refreshing, a blend of hood and expensive. Then I began to see iconic looks from his creative mind on artists such as Big Daddy Kane and Salt-N-Pepa, and even on boxers like Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather.
I realized in watching Dan how truly inspiring he was—he never stopped working and always remained diligent to his craft. His influence extends far past his defining style; he opened the first couture atelier ever in Harlem and stood up to racial discrimination in the fashion industry. Now, he has a groundbreaking collaboration collection with Gucci. With so many years in the game, he remains a culture leader, but he has stayed true to himself, and that will never go out of style.
Elliott is a Grammy Award-winning singer and producer
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