Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Sexy Nerd's #Book #Review Featuring...Dapper Dan Made in Harlem, A #Memoir #NY #Fashion #DapperDanMadeInHarlem #NetGalley

The story of a legendary designer who pioneered high-end streetwear, from a storefront in Harlem to the red carpet in Hollywood, dressing everyone from Salt-N-Pepa and Eric B. & Rakim to Beyoncรฉ and Jay-Z along the way.

With his now-legendary store on 125th Street in Harlem, Dapper Dan pioneered high-end streetwear in the early 1980s, remixing classic luxury-brand logos into his own flamboyant designs. But before reinventing fashion, he was a hungry boy with holes in his shoes, a teen who daringly gambled drug dealers out of their money, a young man in a prison cell who found nourishment in books, and, finally, a designer who broke barriers to outfit a whos-who of music, sport, and crime world celebrities in looks that went on to define an era.

By turns playful, poignant, and inspiring, and featuring two incredible eight-page color photo inserts, including the only existing, never-before-seen images of the notorious Mike Tyson-Mitch Green street fight, Dapper Dan's memoir is a high-stakes coming-of-age story, spanning more than seventy years and set against the backdrop of an ever-evolving America.

The Sexy Nerd ‘Revue’

I knew very little about Dapper Dan, but one thing I most definitely recognized was his genius behind the urban chic street wear back in the day. I often wondered who the hell came up with those fly ass clothes I saw in the videos and on celebrities, and who knew that years later I’d be reading the memoir of a man that was so near, yet so far away.

Dapper Dan’s real name is Daniel R. Day who was born on August 8, 1944 in Harlem, New York and raised with his brothers and sisters. He came up with a strong family belief. His parents were poor and often times holding down three and four jobs at a time to feed Dan and six siblings. He was forced to wear his brothers’ hand-me-downs because his parents couldn’t afford decent clothing for him. There were plenty of times when his elder brothers would shoplift some of the stores in their neighborhood so they could make it. He painted such a vivid picture of the Harlem back in the 40s and 50s where he grew up respecting the hustlers and what most would consider the criminal underworld. 

No matter how poor he and his family were, his father instilled in him a core belief that you always look out for your family, especially his sisters. Dan reflected on some of the ugly sides of the drug world he saw and was often reminded of what he never wanted to see for his sisters’ lives. Luckily for them, they never saw the curse of drugs the way Dan had up close and personal. Heroin was the drug of choice back in his day, and he and his brothers fell prey to the tantalizing drug. But, luckily for Dan, there always seemed to be a higher power working hard to keep him afloat. 

The Day men may have been poor and had to resort to criminal activity from time to time, but one thing that definitely stands out about them is their intelligence. Some might say how can someone be so educated, and yet resort to the type of activities in which they did, and the answer would be they were a product of their surroundings. As with many people, you have to survive by any means necessary, and Dan was super intelligent to the point that he was the master of dice. Gambling was his first drug of habit, if you will. There wasn’t anyone who could outmatch his wit when it came to the dice. He’d made hundreds of thousands of dollars off of drug dealers cheating them out of their money because he was smart like that. Dan was a visionary and a self-motivator and go-getter. I can relate to his drive because I grew up seeing that same passion in watching how my grandfather handled his life. Dapper Dan was the type of dude that had a way of listening to the urban beat of the ghetto and answering to its calling. When you do that, it becomes a blessing in disguise, which happened for Dan. 

He did his stints in prison in his early years, and he was also quite the ladies’ man bringing forth quite a few children. But in order for anyone to become truly who they are, you have to make mistakes along the way, and he wasn’t any different than you and me in that respect. He did what he had to do to take care of his family. He wanted to make sure his children didn’t need or want for anything like he had to do growing up, and he kept his promises to his children. 

As you get into his life, he goes into great detail about how he came to start the Dapper Dan Boutique and all the celebrities, ballers, high rollers, drug dealers and anyone who was anyone, became his client. There were so many sections of the book where I fell out laughing because he talks with street slang and to read his words is like actually hearing them come from his mouth, although I’ve never heard the man speak. The stories of LL Cool J, Jay-Z and Mike Tyson, etc. were priceless.  He did quite a bit of name dropping and telling it like it was when those rappers and fighters were becoming what we know of them today.  He’s quite charming throughout the pages and keeps it one hundred percent with his readers. I didn’t feel as though his book was fluff, but it was damn sure street tough though. He has been through quite an ordeal in his almost seventy-five years of living. There’s not much he hasn’t seen. And what I love about him is that he’s still got it. Dapper Dan deserves all the street creds and more that he’s earned. Much, much respect!

I will say, one thing that kept popping in my mind was how could he produce these clothes using the trademarks and insignias of well-known brands without their expressed consent for copyright.  Well, as in true fashion (pardon the pun), he explains this.  It was just heartbreaking to read his pain when he lost his infamous boutique, hence, due in part, from the question I just posed.  I know how much it hurts to birth your company from the ground up and have someone come and take your shit from you!  OMG, I can so relate to his anger and bitterness.  I went through the same demons he faced with my own personal company.  Yes, we have a great deal in common when it comes to running your own business.

I found this book so mesmerizing and quite entertaining as only a Leo knows how to do. They can tell a story like nobody's business and have you in tears from laughter, and Dan is one such cat! Man, I laughed so much with the way he puts things down. He does not hold back and I love that about him. 

The Sexy Nerd gives Dapper Dan Made in Harlem, a Memoir five fashion models doing the catwalk. This book had a little bit of everything mixed in and is quite entertaining. What a delight to read such a high-class man. No wonder one of the drug dealers he used to know nicknamed him Dapper Dan. He’s quite dapper indeed! Dapper Dan goes on sale, Tues., July 9, 2019. If you enjoy memoirs, as much as I do, you most definitely want to add this one on your to-read shelf. Until next time, Sexy Nerds, keep it sexy, and get mind blown!

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