With his now-legendary store on 125th Street in Harlem, Dapper Dan pioneered high-end streetwear in the 1980s, remixing classic luxury-brand logos into his own innovative, glamorous designs. But before he reinvented haute couture, he was a hungry boy with holes in his shoes, a teen who daringly gambled drug dealers out of their money, and a young man in a prison cell who found nourishment in books. This is his story.
Fashion fans might come to this memoir expecting a primer on the journey from street style to couture, and there is certainly a bit of that in the book ... Detailed descriptions of his family’s tragic journey through poverty, the changing nature of his beloved and cursed neighborhood, and his adventures as a hustler are riveting. His recollections of his early career as a master gambler and the characters he met along the way, as well as his examination of the psychology of the profession, are perhaps even more compelling.
Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem tells the captivating, inspiring and at times raw and emotional story of Daniel R. Day ... It is part fashion story; part personal memoir; but also part business book extolling the virtues of creativity and hard work; part metaphysical and spiritual exploration; part history of Harlem, its Black community and diverse cultural mix, and fashion and hip-hop's intersection; part meditation on identity and more. If that sounds like too much, it's not. All of these elements add up to tell Day's wholly original story ... Pick it up to spend some time in the mind of a truly creative and clever innovator.
Day is a natural storyteller with a distinct point of view that clearly comes through in this enjoyable memoir. He incorporates the social history of Harlem, a fascinating backdrop, and writes as compellingly about his city and its people as he does about his life.