GUCCI GHOST: Life is Gucci
So today I've been loving Gucci's recent collab with NYC street artist Gucci Ghost - and the whole 'hi- meets-lo' vibe that makes it so very appealing to me! Definitely funky, with that punky, DIY aesthetic of drippy, hand-painted logos. The collection includes cool leather flying jackets, graffiti scarves and sweatshirts and oozes grown up, urban swagger! Here's my drawing of my Gucci girl. I thought the silk skirt, cotton socks and t-shirt combo would suit her - what do you think?
Last year, creative director Alessandro Michele decided to embrace a kind of 'street plagiarism' of the brands logo by actually collaborating with the 'perpetrator'; an artist named Trevor Trouble Andrew. He had been painting the Gucci logo all over the city, transforming rubbish bins and decaying walls into richly patterned Gucci-ness, when Michele requested they work together. Although life is definitely Gucci for Trevor Andrew now, back in the 1980s it certainly wouldn't have been. Back then, those biiig luxury brands were designing for their elite clientele - and collaborating with a 'lowly' graffiti artist was definitely not on their radar! How times have changed. . . .
For the mid/late 1980s hip hop kids, it was all about. . .um, let's say 'reappropriating' those luxury brand logos and emblazoning them on anything from caps and track suits to gold necklaces and earrings! In London, we had 4 Star General (see my old flyer below) and in New York, they had 'Dapper Dan' - the Harlem tailor who used to make all these amazing customised 'Gucci' leather suits for all the rappers. Proper 'ghetto-celeb'! My man Dan used fabrics and leathers printed and embossed with the Gucci double 'G's', Louis Vuitton's LV logo and the Fendi F's. He'd appliqué big leather G's on the back of baseball jackets, along with the rappers name above it. He'd add a mink collar here.. . .or a crocodile skin pocket there. Dope with a capital D.
Eric B and Rakim rocked customised Danner Dan creations on their album covers. Here's my original 'follow the leader' cassette from 1988. I still have an 'LV' cap I bought in London, circa 1989, that I called my 'Dapper Dan' hat. . .
The way in which Gucci Ghost paints the old-school Gucci double G's pattern got me thinking about those customised t-shirts and jackets the Shirt Kings used to airbrush in the 80's. . . .you'd see them on LL Cool J, Salt n Pepa and lots of other NY rappers at the time. The Shirt Kings were graffiti artists and probably the first to turn their skills into a marketable product back then. Their shirts depicted street-inspired characters dressed in Dapper Dan suits and Kangols and were customised to suit their Queens, NYC clients needs. Their art also provided a kind of social commentary during that era, too.
In 1992, the Harlem tailor ended up in hot water for copyright infringement by Gucci, but ironically he was only doing back then, what many of the luxury brands are doing now; designing lux garments inspired by sportswear and street style aesthetics.
So how about a 2017 collab with Dan and the Shirt Kings then, Alessandro. . .??
If you loved this post, why not watch the brilliant Fresh Dressed movie-documentary about the history of hip-hop style - or purchase the Shirt Kings book to find out more about these street style pioneers. . . . and please let me know what you think!
If you would like to see more of my illustrations like the one featured in this blog post, click here.