Eye: Gucci Kisses Fur Goodbye, Launches Collab With Artist Helen Downie & Gets Damn Dapper In Harlem

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Gucci amps up its collaborative mood with a series of brilliant collabs, including Alessandro Michele's own utilization of Elton John's archives for his spring/sumer 2018 collection. Featured here is Gucci's teamup with artist Helen Downie -- aka Unskilled Worker. The 40-piece capsule collection of ready-to-wear, shoes, bags, silks and accessories launched on October 11. 

Images from the campaign include models Stella Lucia, Ellia Sophia, Mia Gruenwald and Unia Pakhomova captured by Clara Balzary. 

Gucci's creative director discovered Downie on Instagram. The artist discovered painting without any formal training at age 48, rising to international fame in two years. Her creative breakthrough came in 2013 after a battle with cancer and a detox from alcohol and drugs. 

Gucci Goes Furless

Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri announced on Wednesday that the Italian fashion house will go fur free in 2018. Bizzarri made the announcement during a talk at the London College of Fashion, underscoring that the move demonstrates "Our absolute commitment to making sustainability an intrinsic part of our business". 

The CEO credited the values of Gucci's creative director, Alessandro Michele, as the force behind the decision. “In selecting a new creative director I wanted to find someone who shared a belief in the importance of the same values,” Bizzarri said. “I sensed that immediately on meeting Alessandro for the first time.”

A charity auction of Gucci's remaining animal fur items will be held, with proceeds going to animal rights organizations Humane Society International and LAV, writes The Guardian. 

Poetic Justice?

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Gucci Teams Up With Dapper Dan

Harlem couturier Dapper Dan is known far and wide in New York, designing bespoke pieces for everyone from LL Cool J to Mike Tyson in the '80s and '90s. Dan's legacy is deeply embedded in hip hop culture and he was known for being heavily influenced by designers like Gucci in those logo-crazy days. Translated, for a decade between 1982-1992, Mr. Dan Day counterfeited Guccis, Louis Vuittons, Fendis and more in styles and sizes the brands didn't -- and refused -- to offer. Not to mention, that Dapper Dan was ahead of the luxury brands on the design curve.

In a flurry of lawsuits launched against Dapper Dan, his eponymous boutique closed in 1992. In a twist of life events, Michele came under fire this spring for directly reprising Dapper Dan's designs. Dan's supporters saw no poetic justice in the creative steal and roared on behalf of their guy. 

Then in a twist of life events, Michele Alessandro came under fire this spring for directly reprising Dapper Dan's design vision in his womenswear collection, where he sent out a mink jacket that was a remake of one Mr Day made for the Olumpian Diane Dixon in 1989, writes The New York Times. The original jacket had Louis Vuitton-logo pull sleeves, now converted to Gucci Gs.

Dan's populist supporters saw no poetic justice in the creative reverse steal and roared on behalf of their guy. 

“I was very surprised,” he said in an interview at his Harlem brownstone. “Everyone was. It was a wild moment.” The jacket and his original were “very similar — unmistakably similar.”

Ms. Dixon put up a post on her Instagram comparing the two and demanding credit for Mr. Day. Twitter was quickly engulfed in fury of recriminations. An op-ed in Teen Vogue saw the move, its headline announced, as an example of “how the fashion industry fails black people.”

Vice accused the clothing label of “ruining culture.” Gucci quickly said that the piece was a riff on Mr. Day’s, and few of the critics were placated. Where Gucci claimed homage, others saw appropriation.

“For me, we can talk about appropriation a lot,” said Mr. Michele this week. “I didn’t put a caption on it because it was so clear. I wanted people to recognize Dapper on the catwalk. It wasn’t appropriation, it was a homage, to me.”

Michele found himself embroiled in the same cultural appropriation furor that consumed Marc Jacobs this spring over dreadlocks. The people can rip off any and all creative designs from luxury labels, but there is no reciprocity on the topic. Cultural appropriation is a one-way street. S(he) who has the money is de facto the guilty party in this "power to the people" philosophical argument.

Unlike the ferocious arguments in the art community over Dana Schutz's Whitney Biennial painting of Emmett Till, the big bad Gucci slays Dapper Dan story has a happy ending with the Italian brand launching a new partnership with the designer. By the end of 2017, Mr. Day will open a new store in Harlem -- a second-generation Dapper Dan's as a by-appointment studio for custom commission. Gucci will now supply the raw materials.

Dapper Dan will collaborate on a capsule collection sold in Gucci stores worldwide in 2018. Mr. Day already appears in Gucci's new ad campaign, shot by Glen Luchford on the streets of Harlem.

The sophisticated trendmeister reflected to the Times:

“People were excited in a different way than I was,” he said. “I was just excited about it being there. The part about appropriation, Alessandro and I are part of two parallel universes. The magic that took place as a result of what he did was bringing these two parallel universes together. That opened a dialogue between us when we finally got in touch with each other. I found out how similar our experiences were, the way he grew up and the way I grew up, and how he was influenced by me. I was never apprehensive about what took place. The public was more up in arms than me.”

“We are recognizing the power of this work,” Mr. Michele said. “The message for me is that we have, in a way, recognized a huge piece of the history of the brand. It is the time to say that fashion is not just the windows of a Fifth Avenue store. It’s more. It’s about culture. It’s about self-expression. It’s about expression of a point of view.”

“Let me tell you something,” Mr. Day said. “What I’m most excited about is being able to work in the open.”