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2022-06-16 16:44:21

    Today in Black Excellence: Dapper Dan—the underground fashion icon who made history as the first Black designer to receive CFDA’s lifetime achievement award.

    “I don’t give a damn about failure. I was born part of failure. We are the phoenix—all of us here in America, every black man, woman, and child are part of the phoenix, still rising from those ashes. All my life is about getting knocked down and getting back up. I don’t care. It’s fun!”—Dapper Dan.

    What’s Dapper Dan’s story?

    Born Daniel Day on August 8, 1944, in Harlem, New York City, into a working-class family. By 13, he was making thousands a day after teaching himself gambling. By the 70s, Dan first sold items out of his car, and in 1982, the iconic Dapper Dan’s Boutique had its grand opening —open 24/7.

    Dan is self-taught—from his fabrics and leather printing, to his creations of unique textiles featuring Louis Vuitton and Gucci logos. His designs became synonymous with 80s hip-hop—but Dan was neglected by the fashion world, and his illegal use of major label logos led to police raids. Local attention became Global; European luxury fashion companies like Fendi caught wind and promptly took legal action. Dapper Dan’s Boutique was shut down in 1992. Ever the hustler, he continued working underground.

    How did he come to win the CFDA award?

    Ironically, to say the least, and on his own terms in true Dapper Dan style. Fans were outraged when they noticed Gucci steal one of his classic designs for a major show. The coat was first made for Olympian Diane Dixon, and she posted on Instagram: “Give Dapper Dan his credit. He did it first in 1989!” Incredibly, Gucci accepted its wrongdoing and sparked his career into new life when it offered a partnership.

    At age 77, he made history as the first Black fashion designer honored with the CFDA’s Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also the first designer to receive the honor without ever doing a solo fashion show. Truly the epitome of Black excellence.

    Original portrait by Tumblr Creatr @patiencelekienart

    There’s a quote by Faith Cummings that says, “We still struggle to garner a seat at the table. Even though we’ve oft built the table ourselves.” As a Black Creative, this is a reality many of us face. And Dapper Dan is a modern representation of just that—Black Excellence. He exemplifies how and why our contributions to culture often define culture. It was an honor dedicating this piece to him, as an extension of my gratitude and appreciation for the path he has paved for all Black Creatives. Thank you Dapper Dan. 


    I posted 111 times in 2021

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    #virgil abloh: “figures of speech

    My Top Posts in 2021


    Designer Spotlight: House of Aama

    House of Aama is the spiritual expression of mother and daughter design duo, Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka, in material form. The brand explores the folkways of the Black experience by designing timeless garments with nostalgic references informed by historical research, archival analysis, and storytelling. Check out what they had to say.

    When did you realize you wanted to do something creative together?

    We started the company due to our collective interest in the cultural retention of storytelling, transference of storytelling narratives in the family context and the reclamation of these narratives within the Black community. We are particularly interested in how these narratives are expressed communally, spiritually and in the present time. 

    The seeds of House of Aama began way back, when I was in high school at 15 with an Etsy shop selling upcycled vintage garments. At the time, my mother was cutting and sending all of our orders; that was the start of our partnership. My mother is a craftswoman. House of Aama was very different at the time but the mission remains the same - the expression of history, exploration of stories and identity. 

    What inspired you to create your SS22 Campaign - Salt Water?

    The collection “Salt Water” is inspired by the seafaring legacy and Black resort communities that flourished in the US in the early 1900’s. House of Aama’s SS’22 collection highlights Camp Aama, a fictionalized Black resort community, Black sailors and the water spirits of Yemaya, Olokun and Agwe that have served as spiritual anchors of African traditions in the diaspora. “Salt Water” as a term is an ode to the Africans who crossed the Atlantic Ocean and survived the middle passage to the Americas. 

    Within this new collection, House of Aama enriched its storytelling mission by making a foray into developing original textiles, illustrations and prints with a US based dye and print manufacturer in Southern California. This collection includes a beautiful assortment of colors, prints, textiles, embroidery, patches and hand embellishments that bring the consumer into the world of House of Aama. 

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    195 notes • Posted 2021-11-24 21:30:28 GMT


    Designer Spotlight: Nell Kim, Kate Spade New York

    The first Kate Spade New York bag Nell Kim fell in love with was a 3D clutch in the shape of a car—it was unexpected, perfectly crafted, and just made her smile. Now a designer at Kate Spade New York, Kim works with her team to bring unimaginable pieces to life, creating functional, joyful handbags that continue the brand's rich history of novelty designs.

    This summer brings us Hoppkins: Italian leather molded in the shape of a frog and printed with a bold gingham print, this little guy is the perfect accent piece for a special event or unexpected pop for the everyday.

    Can you describe the design process for the Hoppkins bag?

    Novelty is an important brand code at the heart of Kate Spade New York. When we started on concepts for the Summer 2021 collection, we were drawn to a wicker frog handbag from a past season that we all loved. So we decided to reimagine it—this time in both wicker and leather, with an updated shape. We worked with gingham across product categories for Summer. It’s an important print for the season, so we thought it would be fun to do Hoppkins in a colorful gingham print instead of just solid color. Brainstorming and research take the longest when working on novelty bags, but things became easier once we solidified the overall idea. Finally, with the help of my team and cross-functional partners, Hoppkins came to life!

    Where did you pull inspiration from when designing this bag?

    We took a lot of inspiration from actual images of frogs and all the different frog species but also looked into vintage products that had showcased frog decorations of all kinds. Between those, we were able to form the design.

    What were some of the tactical things you wanted to achieve when the team was dreaming up this frog? 

    It was important that the Hoppkins bag be fun and stylish but also fully functional. We wanted to make it realistic, but not too realistic— there’s a fine line between bold and cartoon-ish. We also focused on making sure it was big enough to carry everyday essentials, like your phone, wallet, lip balm, etc.

    What elements of the frog did you have to problem-solve/come up with a solution for? Did those ideas come from anywhere unexpected?

    Inspiration can come from anywhere! One day I had a Zoom call with my team and saw the older wicker bag sitting on a shelf in the background of one of my coworkers’ screens. I thought it was just a cool decorative object at first, and then he told me it was a Kate Spade New York bag, and my mind went racing from there. I took some inspiration from the original bag but updated it to have a rounder belly so it could sit upright on its own. The very first sample was an abstract side-view of a frog, which looked nice on paper, but the actual sample didn’t have the dimensions that we wanted. It took some trial and error, but we finally got there!

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    1382 notes • Posted 2021-05-18 21:30:41 GMT


    Fashion Spotlight: Steven Stokey-Daley

    Having already worked in the menswear design teams of both Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford, Steven Stokey-Daley had a range of experience that well prepared him for crafting a collection and brand identity of his own. We caught up with him recently to discuss his work, his collaboraiton with Harry Styles, and more so check it out.

    If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

    Logical, tenacious, chaotic.

    When did you know you wanted to start designing?

    There wasn’t one singular moment. I genuinely believe I landed here by chance. I decided on a whim to apply for the fashion program at the University of Westminster. Fashion, as a practise, nicely merges my interests in art, theatre and craft. I suppose I have always been obsessed with the practise of planning and executing my own ideas from start to finish, as a production or project - I love the feeling of pushing myself and taking on more than I can handle and, for me, design is the perfect outlet for that.

    What sparks your creativity and where do you find inspiration?

    I think I have an overactive mind. The inability to focus on one thing at a time means that almost everything and anything inspires me? My work tends to reflect my infatuation with public school culture and I enjoy subverting this traditional, decadent British traditionalism and putting my own twist on it. I usually view this elitism, that I’ve only ever seen from afar and in films and theatre, through a homosocial lens. Music gives me a lot of inspiration too, I always have music playing in my studio while i’m working. I find it difficult to work without it.

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    3482 notes • Posted 2021-01-29 21:10:18 GMT

    Get your Tumblr 2021 Year in Review

    We’re incredibly saddened by the news of Virgil Abloh’s passing. The Brooklyn Museum staff, along with guest curator Antwaun Sargent, have been privileged over the past few years to collaborate on a new iteration of the @mcachicago exhibition Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech”, a traveling survey of Virgil’s trailblazing and expansive creative practice which will open next year at the BkM. Virgil’s dedication to his artistry provided new opportunities and equitable pathways in art and design. He will be remembered and celebrated through his legacy. Our heartfelt condolences are with his family 🤍⁠

    Photo: Bogdan Plakov; Autumn Winter 2019 Off-White Womenswear Runway Show