FASHION UNSTITCHED: Designer Book Review- Dapper Dan

Where We Unravel the World of Fashion

Three more amazing books coming your way in the next weeks. And I still can’t decide which is more flamboyant than the next! Let’s start with today’s review.

Dapper Dan – Made in Harlem- A Memoir

Another fantastic Audible read. I basically binged three days on this, walking around, doing my thing with earphones on; zombie mode. From the very beginning this book hypnotized me. I never knew Dapper Dan’s story in such detail. Most of us, I think are familiar with the culture look with a mix of Gucci Fendi, Louis Vuitton designer, that Dapper Dan created. But this book reveals so much more of what the man was all about. Fashion was but one piece of the story.

He grew up in early Harlem; where fashionable and chic went hand in hand with respect, and family unity in what was a very tight and close community. Fashion was all around him as everyone loved to be dressed at their finest. Dapper Dan goes into details of his life growing up in Harlem. His parents, brothers, sisters- all very close and playing key roles in his life. Reading this book is such an insight to what life was like for a Black man in the 60’s and how things just took a turn into choices that were never really there in the first place.

Dapper Dan was certainly a go-getter. Nothing stopped him from achieving what he put his mind to. As circumstances would have it though, the choices he made and the career paths he took, were often unconventional, dangerous, with no other way out . He became a high roller dice player, had a drug addiction, hit rock bottom and suffered many losses along the way. But he did learn and grow from these experiences; he studied fashion (the only Black man in his college); went to Africa to discover unique and fabulous garments that inspired his own creativity; to ultimately find respite and peace within his Muslim faith; to becoming a mega designer- high class upcycler for the Hip Hop celebrities of the time… I’m just skimming the surface.

Prison, recognition, fame, recognized designer- Dapper Dan made it to the top. He earned his place among the big designer brands and today, Dapper Dan is a full blown legend. This read is not about a fairytale climb to the top. It will walk you through danger, ghettos, dark lanes, sketchy night scenes- and that lasts for awhile. But when Dapper Dan emerges- he’s on the high road to triumph- the kind of victory that gets written in history . The strength of a man that was creative, sharp, sensitive and family-loving, Dapper Dan’s memoir is a true success story. Oh and I should mention, I just loved the tone and voice of the narrator as well- made it so real.

This book will make you realize how little you actually know about this side of America. Even if you thought you did…somehow? Think again.


Fashion Unstitched is a series where I take you through bits of fashion history, fibres and textiles, guest interviews, industry talk, fashion events, sustainability, museums, reviews…If it’s fashionable- I’m covering it!! Suggestions, and collaborations are welcome. Send me an email. Thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “FASHION UNSTITCHED: Designer Book Review- Dapper Dan

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    1. Oh Michelle, this book is incredibly intense and deep, I had no idea the extent. Very raw at some points. I just thought it would be about a hip hop designer and the Gucci dupes…but this is so much more. I loved it.

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