Glamour, innovation, and international stature are just some of the elements called to mind when thinking of CFDA member Stephen Burrows.
Tonight the Museum of the City of New York will showcase the life and work of Stephen Burrows with the premiere of Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced. The exhibition, on display beginning tonight until July 28, highlights Burrows’s accomplishments in the industry and commemorates some of his formidable “firsts.” Burrows was the first American designer given his own boutique in legendary retailer Henri Bendel. He was also one of the five American designers invited to showcase his designs in Paris in 1973 at the groundbreaking “Battle of Versailles,” which pitted American designers (Burrows, Halston, Anne Klein, Bill Blass, and Oscar de la Renta) against prominent French designers like Hubert de Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent. This was also the year he’d become the first African-American recipient of the notable Coty Award before winning two more.
Burrows’s designs helped distinguish American fashion from European trends, solidifying American fashion as a major powerhouse. Burrows helped define the look of the disco club scene with his body-defining silhouettes, bold color blocking, and use of metallic and fringe fabrics. His signature “lettuce” edge and slip dresses defined the look of the disco club scene. The exhibition will focus on the years between 1968 and 1983—a time when Burrows’s designs changed New York City—featuring original sketches, video, photographs, and over 50 garments.
In 2006 the CFDA awarded Burrows with the “Board of Directors Special Tribute” and it’s easy to see why. The Museum’s exhibition celebrates these achievements and reminds us that his robust influence is still dancing across runways today.