Trendsetting fashion designer Dapper Dan defines style

If you follow fashion, you know designer Dapper Dan and his legendary store on 125th Street in Harlem where he pioneered high-end streetwear in the 1980s, remaking classic luxury-brand logos into his own innovative designs for a host of celebrities including Mike Tyson, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Peppa and Jay-Z, just to name few.

On an episode of “Salon Talks” with D. Watkins, Dapper Dan reveals the lessons that have guided him through his unique mark on fashion history, his career-shattering disputes with major fashion houses, and his newly forged joint venture with Gucci, a partner at his current atelier in Harlem.

When asked what being fly means to him, Dapper Dan said, “Liberation. Because I couldn't get fly when I was young. I grew up with holes in my shoes, and I said, “If I ever get the opportunity, I ain't never come out of these fly clothes.” If I'm slipping, help me up, because I got to be fly.”

In his new memoir, “Dapper Dan: Made In Harlem,” he tells the stories of dressing iconic celebrities and how their styles were inspired by the famous gangsters who set the street trends. Dapper Dan also opens up about the setbacks in his career, including having his shop closed because of raids ordered by the major fashion houses, even getting shot in the neck in front of his store.

Through it all, the guiding principle for Dapper Dan has always been style.“You can have excitement without style, but you can't have style without excitement. Style has to generate excitement. That's the key to everything I do, is to generate excitement around what I create. Then, we build off that. We go get exciting people and use that as a package,” he said.

Watch the episode above to hear what Dapper Dan thinks about the Gucci boycott, why he almost became a journalist, and how he decided fashion was his life’s calling.

About “Salon Talks”

Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on Facebook and Twitter and each episode is published in full on

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