Celebrating Counterfeit – François-Henri Pinault marketing counterfeit at CFDA Fashion Awards 2021. Article by Eleonora de Gray, Editor-in-Chief of RUNWAY MAGAZINE.
CFDA Fashion Awards 2021 ceremony took place at the Pool + The Grill within the Seagram Building on Park Avenue. The fabulous evening was hosted by actress Emily Blunt.
Everyone… almost everyone to the last assistant were dressed in the garments of Kering Luxury Group: Balenciaga, Gucci or Saint Laurent.
The CFDA and Vogue Magazine have created an endowment for the stated purpose of funding significant financial awards to the winners and provide business mentoring.
The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Selection Committee give to the winners:
1. Business mentoring from an established team of fashion industry professionals, in areas such as business planning, marketing, sourcing, production, exporting etc.
2. To encourage and enable the recipients to pursue his/her own independent design plan (one winner at $300,000 and two runners-up at $100,000 each).
Each year the prize might vary. This 2021 year went under sign of Kering, who’s generously participated in the organization of this CFDA Fashion Award 2021.
Celebration of counterfeit and illegal goods designer Dapper Dan with the Geoffrey Beene lifetime achievement award
This year CFDA honored counterfeit goods designer Dapper Dan with the Geoffrey Beene lifetime achievement award, making him the first designer without a fashion show, and the first designer who produced counterfeit goods, chased by FBI, to ever win the honor.
Dapper Dan was tearing when he received the award this Wednesday November 10. He proudly told the story how he printed on fabrics in his atelier the logos of Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi, how he picked the designs from sportswear companies, or Christian Dior Haute Couture designs for the famous jacket he made with Louis Vuitton printed logos to Olympic Runner Diane Lynn Dixon, or how he mixed Gucci and Louis Vuitton logos on the bomber jackets. Dapper Dan proudly told the story about how he “created” jackets, even total looks for drug-lords, rap or hip-hop singers.
Dapper Dan also told the story about how fashion brands filed massive lawsuit against him, he was chased by FBI, and finally they were able to close his atelier in Harlem, and strip him from all money he earned by production of illegal goods. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, and specifically Fendi put the end to this illegal production. Read story about who is Dapper Dan HERE.
In 2017 CEO of Kering Luxury Group Francois-Henri Pinault and CEO of Gucci Marco Bizzarri decided to invest several million dollars, and and relaunched Dapper Dan as a by-appointment studio for custom pieces. Dapper Dan himself was even starring in Gucci’s new men’s-tailoring ad campaign.
In another words CEO of Kering Luxury Group Francois-Henri Pinault released “Counterfeit Bacteria” on the world and started “Counterfeit Pandemic“, which spreads today as rapidly as coronavirus. Here and there I see “designers”, who present even in department stores their counterfeit production, some sort of hybrids, or customized items. Read story HERE.
I’m asking myself a question – is that some strange way of Kering to “outsmart” LVMH? Gucci belongs to the Group Kering, Luxury goods company. Louis Vuitton belongs to LVMH – another Luxury goods company. And back in the 90s Dapper Dan used mostly Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi logos, mixing and matching them up. It is known that Kering and LVMH for more than 50 years had a war for territory in the luxury market. So when in 2017 Gucci invested to re-opened an atelier in Harlem for Dapper Dan, invested to clean up his reputation, paid media (and specifically to one), made him sponsor of New York Fashion Week, there is a reason for that. Tailoring method, or as Dapper Dan calls it “designs”, which were used with Louis Vuitton logos today remade with the logos of Gucci. Is it another way, quiet pervert I might add, to take territory from LVMH? The perversity of it all, mind games if you like, would be this investment in Dapper Dan of François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering, with desire to “outsmart” Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, and take the “territory” which is definitely outside of law, in the dark side, belonged to LVMH in the past. Although this mind game of Francois-Henri Pinault has a very dark outcome. He didn’t think about circumstances, how it’ll affect sociality, and what destructive results it could bring worldwide just 3 years after. Bringing Dapper Dan to the light side, paying the media to clean up his reputation, naming him “true genius”, made him sponsor of New York Fashion week, give him lifetime achievement award by CFDA in 2021 opened up a path to legitimize all illegal producers, counterfeit designers. And started “Counterfeit Pandemic”.
In 2017 many media, specially New York Times opened the debate, expressing shock about Kering / Gucci investment in counterfeit goods designer.
In 2018 Vogue became promotion platform for Dapper Dan, in 2019 Vogue invited as a guest of honor Dapper Dan to The Met Gala, invited stars to visit his atelier in Harlem.
In 2019 François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering, engaged the MSNBC TV channel to produce several EXCLUSIVE reportages, interviews, live-shows to promote Dapper Dan and to express his opinion that this is not a theft, this is art. François-Henri Pinault is known for mistaken understanding of intellectual property and easily goes to the “dark side” for inspiration. In 2017, the same year when Gucci / Kering invested in Dapper Dan, another brand of Kering produced exact replica of Ikea Frakta shopping bag. Only Balenciaga sold it for $2,145 instead of $0,99.
“Exclusive reportage” produced by MSNBC by Ari Melber about “fashion icon Dapper Dan” and his legacy gave the opinion of CEO of Kering François-Henri Pinault, questioning if production of Dapper Dan is “Art or Theft?” And expressing his opinion that is actually art, and it’s all about ingenious street style. In this reportage even image of François-Henri Pinault’s wife Salma Hayek, as a customer of Dapper Dan, was used to support the theory: “this is not a theft, this is art”, comparing Dapper Dan with Andy Warhol and Picasso (only in the eyes of François-Henri Pinault, I suppose). And by the way what artists he was talking about in this reportage? gangsters – yes, drug-lords – yes, but no artists…. NO.
“Stars ranging from Beyonce to Salma Hayek would go on to rock Dan’s signature style… His customers paid extra for the Dapper Dan look, they knew they weren’t buying a Gucci product, Just like Andy Warhol‘s fans knew he was making art, no soup ads. But the fashion houses didn’t see it that way. They cracked down, suing Dan, seizing his product. More heat followed. Subpoenas for his Harlem clients, raid on his store… Dan had many customers and artists on his side, and most culture echoes something. Picasso joked bad artists copy and good artists steal. He openly remixed other artists like you see here, Velazquez. But the fashion houses had power and money on their side, and they ran Dan’s shop out of business. He went back underground… I want to tell you, this story could end there, but that thing about artists copying and stealing, it came full circle…” – Exclusive reportage by Ari Melber, MSNBC.
But no one saw it this way, theft remains theft, no matter how ingenious it was. And different media continued to open this subject. So at the beginning of 2021 CFDA together with Vogue and Kering decided to make him a sponsor of New York Fashion Week (Spring Summer 2022 season), and give him lifetime achievement award from CFDA / Vogue foundation at CFDA Fashion Awards 2021 this year.
The shadowy business of counterfeits has taken over the globe to become a $1.2 trillion industry. Despite extensive and expensive efforts by brands, by law enforcement, efforts of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”), this shadowy business became the center of the attention during this New York Fashion Week, and the most known designer / tailor of counterfeit illegal goods Dapper Dan was honored by lifetime achievement award for his counterfeit illegal goods production in 90s from its organizer CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America).
“We’re also incredibly pleased to see several talented names among the nominees for the first time. American fashion is experiencing a renewed energy, and the designers play a significant role in the future trajectory of our industry,” – said CFDA CEO Steven Kolb.
In parenthesis. Michael Kors at the beginning of 2021 proposed concept FENDACE, a collaboration between Fendi and Versace. Let’s say it is a very creative way against counterfeit pandemic. Fendi was the one who insisted in 1990s to put the end to counterfeit illegal activities of Dapper Dan, close his atelier, and strip him of all earnings.
Michael Kors didn’t approve the nomination of a counterfeit goods tailor Dapper Dan with lifetime achievement award, his sponsorship of New York Fashion Week. He predicted the “Counterfeit Pandemic” and decided to confront it in the most creative way – with the concept. Capri Holdings Limited, a multinational fashion holding company, founded and owned by American designer Michael Kors, since 2018 owns Versace – the most popular luxury brand, and the one being the most exposed to counterfeit.
Michael Kors proposed a concept to Donatella Versace and Fendi to create a mix-match collection and united their logos and styles. If public want to see Versace and Fendi logos in one luxury item, so let’s create it for them in one outfit and by these brands. This absolutely brilliant concept had a huge success during Milan Fashion Week this September. The collection Versace and Fendi got a name FENDACE. Donatella Versace leaded this project. Michael Kors even flew to Milan for the show. Read this story HERE.
Back to Celebration of counterfeit and illegal goods designer Dapper Dan with the Geoffrey Beene lifetime achievement award….
“This is an important moment in American fashion. There is much excitement about the return of New York City and New York Fashion Week as well as the top caliber of diverse talent making their mark on the city and the global fashion landscape. The CFDA Fashion Awards are our biggest fundraiser of the year, and we are looking forward to our industry coming together, in person again, to celebrate the very best of American creativity,” – said CFDA CEO Steven Kolb.
What does it mean? Making legit Counterfeit illegal production?
“Now the companies who once sued him now paid homage… For too long the fashion system has excluded black people while appropriating black culture. Today everyone in fashion needs to support the change that Dapper Dan represents. I can think of no one who deserves Geoffrey Beene lifetime achievement award more than Dapper Dan,” – said Valerie Steele, fashion historian, curator, and director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Vogue made a special documentary about Dapper Dan, and he told his story, adding that “I was used to white folks taking stuff from us… That was given, you know…“. And it was another attempt to persuade public to accept it. There were no more comparison with art, now CFDA decided to use known social problem to wrap. But it is still remains counterfeit in different wrapper.
So is it really problem of color, or it is simply a human problem, and miserable attempt to make legit counterfeit illegal actions? And all of this because massive financial investment of Kering is involved?
Dapper Dan was born in Harlem, in New York. He was a gambler, hustler and opened a clothes store for gangsters and drug-lords? Do you see anywhere the “white folks” in this story? And do you see any fact or evidence of “white folks” taking something from him? The answer is NOTHING! Is it simply so “fashion” to bring social problem up in front with hope that it’ll cover up? Well IT DOES NOT COVER IT!!!! NO “WHITE FOLKS” INVOLVED!!!! It is actually the other way around! Dapper Dan said it himself in this documentary by Vogue that he saw Louis Vuitton logo on a pouch of a drug-lord and decided to start his counterfeit illegal goods production by printing it on fabrics and producing the clothes. He took reputation and symbology representing power from “white folks”, owners of Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi, and organized massive production of illegal counterfeit goods.
That’s it!!! End of story! No “white folks” involved. Yes, at some point “white folks” decided to end it up and went to justice to shut his illegal production down. But still he was shut down not because he was black, but because he was a man, who was stealing from others their intellectual properties and made business out if it. He was just a guy who took what didn’t belong to him and produced illegal counterfeit goods, and continued underground production until 2017, even after he was shut down. And today Dapper Dan, producer of illegal counterfeit goods, thanks CFDA and Vogue for the lifetime achievement award, talks about his legacy and calls out loud to public that is “the way to go”.
So how Valerie Steele can masquerade this story under “social problem”, or “problem of color”, and call for acceptance of “everyone in fashion… to support the change”? This is simply a call to accept theft, counterfeit and production of illegal goods. And this story has nothing to do with any named social problem!
Dapper Dan continued to repeat:
“I deconstructed brands… to the essence of their power… crests that signified wealth, respect and prestige. My customers wanted to buy into that power“.
So why would CFDA and other organizations are so prizing Dapper Dan? Counterfeit remains counterfeit, no matter the wrap!!!!! Money???? That’s it? Kering invested, paid to clean up the reputation (“white folks” by the way), and that’s it? So now all organizations want to join and invest and make all criminal actions legit? And how far can this go?
The answer is – very far! This became a counterfeit pandemic!
FYI, How about moral values, which are older then any social problems named here? Yeah… these old human moral values… Yes… yes, I know… very naive talking about these old values, on which humanity based on… No one in CFDA organization, their partners and investors care about these values now?
Thus to steal is to dishonor God (Prv 30.9) and is one of the injustices that lead to God’s destruction of the Temple (Jer 7.9). Even one who steals from want is under full penalty, though men excuse him (Prv 30.9; 6.30–31). The accomplice shares in the guilt of the thief (Lv 5.1).
Therefore theft is a mortal sin. Now through theft a man inflicts harm on a neighbor in his possessions, and if men were to steal from one another indiscriminately, human society would perish.
Winners of CFDA Fashion Awards 2021
Nominations for each award category were submitted by the CFDA Fashion Awards Guild, comprised of members of the CFDA, and Vogue magazine.
The Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Dapper Dan by Valerie Steele.
Zendaya was named Fashion Icon, presented by Iman.
The American Womenswear Designer of the Year award to Christopher John Rogers.
The American Menswear Designer of the Year to Emily Bode Aujla of Bode.
Ho Yeon Jung presented the American Emerging Designer of the Year to Edvin Thompson of Theophilio.
Paloma Elsesser presented Demna of Balenciaga with the International Women’s Designer of the Year award and announced that Grace Wales Bonner of Wales Bonner is this year’s International Men’s Designer of the Year. Jeremy O. Harris accepted on behalf of Grace Wales Bonner of Wales Bonner.
Cara Delevingne presented Anya Taylor-Joy with CFDA’s first Face of the Year award.
Carolyn Murphy presented Patagonia with the Environmental Sustainability Award, which was accepted byPatagonia’s District Environmental Coordinator Rebecca Goodstein.
Emily Ratajkowski presented Nina Garcia with the Media Award in honor of Eugenia Sheppard.
Yeohlee Teng received the Board of Directors’ Tribute, which was presented by Michael Kors.
The Founder’s Award in honor of Eleanor Lambert was presented to Aurora James for the 15 Percent Pledge by Anna Wintour.
Photo Courtesy: BFA, archives of Dapper Dan