Stephen Burrows (designer)

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Stephen Burrows
Born (1943-09-15) September 15, 1943 (age 77)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
EducationFashion Institute of Technology
OccupationFashion Designer
Years active1966–present

Stephen Burrows (born in Newark, New Jersey on September 15, 1943) is an American fashion designer based in New York City.[1][2] Burrows studied at Fashion Institute of Technology, then began work in the New York City's Garment Center, alternately managing his own businesses and working closely with luxury department store Henri Bendel. He is known for being one of the first African-American fashion designers to sell internationally and develop a mainstream, high-fashion clientele.[3] His garments, known for their bright colors and "lettuce hem" curly-edges, became an integral part of the "Fun City" New York City disco-dancing scene of the 1970s.[4]

Early life[edit]

Burrows was born in Newark, New Jersey on September 15, 1943.[5][6] Born to parents Octavia Pennington and Gerald Burrows,[5] he was raised by his mother, and his maternal grandmother, Beatrice Pennington Banks Simmons. Fascinated with his grandmother's zigzag sewing machine, he learned to sew early.[7] He made his first garment for a friend's doll when he was eight years old.[8]

As a high school student, Burrows took dance lessons and loved the mambo. He began heading to Manhattan on Sundays to dance at the Palladium night club, and began sketching dresses he wanted for his partners. When he graduated from Newark Arts High School, he first enrolled at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, intending to be an art teacher.[9]

Inspired by dress forms he came across during a tour of the college,[9] he transferred to New York City's Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT),[10] but found it frustrating. FIT professors taught a set of basic draping rules that Burrows had no patience with. Even then he had established his spontaneous style of cutting at all angles, stretching edges off grain, and draping as he went.[8] Nonetheless, he graduated in 1966.[11]

Fashion career[edit]

Stephen Burrows top & skirt, Fall/ Winter 1971. Adnan Ege Kutay Collection

Burrows began his working career with a job at blouse manufacturer, Weber Originals.[10] Gradually his work was picked up by small shops, and in 1968 he began working with Andy Warhol and his entourage at Max's Kansas City and selling across the street at the O Boutique.[12][13] Burrows' clothes were described as the fashion embodiment of the electric sexuality of this era. The women who wore his clothes gave off an aura of frantically creative days and wild nights filled with disco music and glamorous people.[14]

As a former student of FIT, there was a desire amongst his classmates to sell their lines at the famous Fifth Avenue retailer Henri Bendel.[15] Burrows himself was introduced to Geraldine Stutz, Bendel's owner, in the summer of 1968.[15] She loved the coat he wore to meet her so much that she gave him a boutique in the store.[16] In fall of 1973, Burrows' first lingerie/sleepwear collection, called "Stevies" was introduced at Henri Bendel's, Bonwit Teller, Lord & Taylor, and Bloomingdales, as well as stores in Chicago, San Francisco, and elsewhere.[17]

Burrows was one of the five American fashion designers chosen to showcase their work at the historical fashion show billed as divertissement à Vèrsailles, held on November 28, 1973.[18] This event has come to be known as The Battle of Versailles Fashion Show. He was the youngest of the American designers to show a collection at the show by more than a decade.[19]

In 1978, Farrah Fawcett wore his gold chainmail dress to the Academy Awards where she was a presenter.[20] In February 1981, Brooke Shields, at age 15, appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine wearing Stephen Burrows. Other women who loved his clothes included Barbra Streisand, Cher, The Supremes, Bette Midler, and Jerry Hall.[21]

In May 2006, the Council of Fashion Designers of America honored Burrows with "The Board of Directors Special Tribute."[22] Around the same time, Burrows was invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Mode to return to Paris to present his Spring/Summer 2007 Collection in the Carousel de Louvre.[23] In addition to "Stephen Burrows World",[24] Burrows expanded his company to include a number of labels drawn from various points of inspiration. "S by Burrows" was created for a venture with Home Shopping Europe (HSN) in Munich, Germany,[25] while "Everyday Girl" was inspired by Anna Cleveland, daughter to muse and model Pat Cleveland, and "SB73", a cut and sew knit line that was developed based on Burrows' hallmark, color-blocked creations of the seventies.[25]

First Lady Michelle Obama wore a Burrows Jersey pantsuit to an event in Washington, D.C. of which Vogue Magazine wrote, "It was a wonderful acknowledgement of Burrows, one of the great African-American designers and a Harlem resident known for his inventive cuts and bias technique."[25]

In 2010, Burrows opened his new showroom and design studio in New York City's Garment Center.

Awards[edit]

  • Coty Award, American Fashion Critics award ("Winnie"), 1973[10]
  • Coty Award, American Fashion Critics special award (lingerie), 1974
  • Coty Award, American Fashion Critics award ("Winnie"), 1977
  • Council of American Fashion Critics award, 1975
  • Knitted Textile Association Crystal Ball award, 1975
  • Bronze plaque on the Fashion Walk of Fame, 2002
  • Council of Fashion Designers of America Board of Directors' Special Tribute Award, 2006[19]
  • Key to the City of Newark, New Jersey, 2016[26]

Retrospectives and tributes[edit]

Burrows’ work as a fashion designer has been the subject of a series of retrospectives: in "1940–1970's Cut and Style" at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology;[when?] "The 1970s" at The Tribute Gallery in New York,[when?] and in "Back to Black: Art, Cinema, and the Racial Imaginary" at Whitechapel Gallery in London in June 2005.[27]

In 2013, the Museum of the City of New York mounted the first major examination of Burrows' work in "Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced" with an accompanying catalog.[3][28][29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zalopany, Chelsea (May 19, 2014). "André Leon Talley Honors Stephen Burrows at SCAD". Vogue. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Stephen Burrows – Fashion Designer Encyclopedia – clothing, century, women, dress, style, new, body, dresses, designs, jewelry, world, look". fashionencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b Wilson, Eric (2013-02-20). "Don't Forget About Stephen". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  4. ^ Bellafante, Ginia (2002-01-01). "A Fallen Star of the 70's Is Back in the Business". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  5. ^ a b "Stephen Burrows's Biography". The HistoryMakers. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  6. ^ "Newark native, iconic fashion designer Stephen Burrows receives key to city". NJTV News. 2018-02-16. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  7. ^ Burrows, Stephen; Morera, Daniela; Museum of the City of New York (2013-01-01). Stephen Burrows: when fashion danced. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with Museum of the City of New York. p. 16. ISBN 9780847841189. OCLC 826811098.
  8. ^ a b Company, Johnson Publishing (1980-11-01). Ebony. Johnson Publishing Company.
  9. ^ a b Burrows, Stephen; Morera, Daniela; Museum of the City of New York (2013-01-01). Stephen Burrows: when fashion danced. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with Museum of the City of New York. pp. 16–18. ISBN 9780847841189. OCLC 826811098.
  10. ^ a b c Stephan Burrows Receives "Oscar" of Fashion Awards. Jet, Johnson Publishing Company. 1976. p. 55. ISSN 0021-5996.
  11. ^ Bryd, Ayana (2007-09-01). Stephan Burrows. Ebony, Johnson Publishing Company. p. 94. ISSN 0012-9011.
  12. ^ Burrows, Stephen; Morera, Daniela; Museum of the City of New York (2013-01-01). Stephen Burrows: when fashion danced. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with Museum of the City of New York. p. 10. ISBN 9780847841189. OCLC 826811098.
  13. ^ Billard, Mary (2010-07-21). "Stephen Burrows Collection at Target". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  14. ^ Burrows, Stephen; Morera, Daniela; Museum of the City of New York (2013-01-01). Stephen Burrows: when fashion danced. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with Museum of the City of New York. pp. 36, 37. ISBN 9780847841189. OCLC 826811098.
  15. ^ a b Wilson, Eric (2009-05-13). "Henri Bendel Will No Longer Sell Clothes". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  16. ^ BELLAFANTE, GINIA (Jan 1, 2002). "A Fallen Star of the 70's is Back in the Business". New York Times. p. 1.
  17. ^ BERNADINE MORRIS (Jul 16, 1973). "Pajamas to Wear when Going Out". New York Times. p. 24.
  18. ^ Nemy, Enid (30 November 1973). "Fashion at Versailles: French Were Good, Americans Were Great". New York Times: 26.
  19. ^ a b Jablon-Roberts, Sara. "Stephen Burrows." Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion: The United States and Canada. Ed. Phyllis G. Tortora. Oxford: Bloomsbury Academic, 2010. Bloomsbury Fashion Central. Web. 21 Feb. 2020. <http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781847888525.EDch031717>.
  20. ^ Burrows, Stephen; Morera, Daniela; Museum of the City of New York (2013-01-01). Stephen Burrows: when fashion danced. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with Museum of the City of New York. pp. 148, 149. ISBN 9780847841189. OCLC 826811098.
  21. ^ Burrows, Stephen; Morera, Daniela; Museum of the City of New York (2013-01-01). Stephen Burrows: when fashion danced. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with Museum of the City of New York. p. 16. ISBN 9780847841189. OCLC 826811098.
  22. ^ "Fashion Icon Stephen Burrows Honored by Council of Fashion Designers of America". NewsMark Public Relations. 2011-12-07. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  23. ^ Donofrio-Ferrezza, Lisa; Hefferen, Marilyn (2017-02-09). Designing a Knitwear Collection: From Inspiration to Finished Garments. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 978-1-5013-1382-0.
  24. ^ "1943-Present – Stephen Burrows | Fashion History Timeline". fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  25. ^ a b c "Stephen Burrows first African-American designer". Fashionsizzle. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  26. ^ https://www.njspotlight.com/news/uncategorized/newark-native-iconic-fashion-designer-stephen-burrows-receives-key-city/amp/
  27. ^ Powell, Richard J.; Bailey, David A.; Straw, Petrine Archer (2005). Back to Black: Art, Cinema and the Racial Imaginary. Whitechapel Art Gallery. ISBN 978-0-85488-142-0.
  28. ^ "Stephen Burrows". Museum of the City of New York. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  29. ^ "Stephen Burrows "When Fashion Danced"". YouTube. April 17, 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Morris, Bernadine, and Barbara Walz, The Fashion Makers, New York, 1978.
  • Milbank, Caroline Rennolds, New York Fashion: The Evolution of American Style, New York, 1989.
  • Stegemeyer, Anne, Who's Who in Fashion, Third Edition, New York, 1996.

External links[edit]