Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem
Booklist Reviews 2019 June #1
Anyone who was anywhere near hip-hop during the 1980s, especially if they loved Yo! MTV Raps, saw Dapper Dan's fashions sported by the likes of LL Cool J, Rakim, and Biz Markie. Daniel Day was born and raised in Harlem, one of seven children of parents who worked hard yet remained in poverty. Day learned the hustle early, starting with small-time theft and moving on to making real money in dice games with drug dealers. His insistence on always looking "fly" led him to the world of fashion, and his drive, street smarts, and knowledge made him a success. Learning textile printing, he opened his Harlem store in 1982 catering to dealers, rappers, and athletes with his own designs that went on to influence streetwear for generations. 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. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2019 July
Street hustler, con artist, and breakthrough fashion designer Harlem native Day, better known as Dapper Dan, has seen and done it all. Born at the end of the Depression, Day grew up on the streets of Harlem hustling dice games and using drugs and alcohol but maintaining a strong sense of family and loyalty to childhood friends. His story, told here with author Awake, winds through Harlem and local neighborhoods, travels to Africa, which ignited a spark of African pride and style, and running a credit card con throughout the Caribbean, which led him to doing prison time in Aruba. Day ultimately found his niche in fashion design, selling items to gangsters, hip-hop artists, and athletes from the trunk of his car then opening his groundbreaking Dapper Dan's Boutique in 1982, which was shut down after ten years. Since 2010, he has experienced a resurgence in the fashion world, launching a store on New York's Lenox Avenue in 2017. His designs have been exhibited at major museums in New York and beyond.
PW Reviews 2019 May #1
In this moving memoir, Day (aka Dapper Dan) chronicles his rise from a poor black boy growing up in 1940s Harlem to becoming a notable designer of streetwear. With clients ranging from gangsters and pimps to Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Day saw each customer as "an actor auditioning to be in this big, generational movie I'm making." Day was a talented poet and writer, as well as a hustler who beat street hoods in dice games and dropped out of high school at 15. In 1974, Day began making and selling clothes, and he opened his first store on 125th Street in 1982. He taught himself textile printing and, during New York's crack epidemic in the 1980s, built a clothing business that inspired what boxers and rappers would wear for years to come; in 2018, he opened a store on Lenox Avenue, with Gucci as a partner. Day writes that he "never thought of as an artist, or in fashion industry terms... I was playing jazz with fashion." In describing his life, Day also provides a fascinating portrait of the Harlem in his youth, "before the heroin game overtook the numbers game, before crack overtook heroin." Day wonderfully captures the style of Harlem and its evolution throughout the decades. (July)Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.