Cristobol Balenciaga came to Harlem for inspiration in the 1940’s, so it only makes sense that Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele would look for inspiration from Harlem too.
On Monday night, an image of a new jacket from Gucci’s 2018 Cruise collection was widely circulated on Twitter alongside a photo of a retro design from the legendary Harlem icon Dapper Dan.There’s a stark similarity between the two garments that suggests Gucci’s creative director Michele appropriated the idea directly from the legendary Harlem clothier. While Dan used Louis Vuitton print instead of Gucci material, the brown fur, puffy sleeves, and silhouette are all nearly identical to his original.
In the 1980s, Dapper Dan set the precedent for merging high fashion prints with ostentatious streetwear. The Harlem pioneer used luxe fabrics to craft custom pieces that spoke to the culture, while brands like Louis Vuitton and Fendi weren’t making anything marketed towards the black community. Some of the era’s most popular MCs and neighborhood figures donned Dan’s fresh adaptions.
In recent years, Gucci has attempted to position itself closely to black culture. Gucci’s pre-fall campaign featured all black models, who wore pieces from their collection while emulating a 1970’s hip-hop club scene. This week’s runway look proves yet again that black folks create and revolutionize style trends while high-end designers hijack those aesthetics for their own gain.