Sometimes, the best part of the night is the getting ready with the girls beforehand. The primping, the preening, the music and the fun. That’s what the Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced exhibition at the Museum Of The City Of New York brought to mind as I entered his colourful world of design and Sylvester’s ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ filled the room.
I wasn’t aware of him before but the mere mention of Studio 54 had my attention. He formed the signature style of the new Manhattan dance clubs in the seventies along with Halston and Giorgio Di Saint Angelo.
“He doesn’t so much create an outfit as he crafts a story through fashion, daring us all to dream, to dance, and to inhabit our bodies.” – Iman
Starting out in the free loving sixties, Burrows created unisex (or ‘any sex’ as he referred to them) garments for his group of friends they named the Commune. They also modeled his designs in printed publications. Colours were rainbow bright and shapes were free and easy.
The seventies brought on a new aesthetic for Burrows: an easy moving style inspired by music. Bias cut featherweight jersey and chiffon dresses lent themselves well to the energetic dancing of the disco era. Vogue deemed him the ‘Fashion King Of The Sexy Cling’.
His designs developed with metallics and prints. Creating his own prints, he favoured themes like birds, marine motifs and bubble prints, like “tropical – Popical – butterflies” – Vogue.
The exhibition brought us up to 1982 when his Bendel studio closed but he is still designing today, recently celebrating his 45th year in the industry and Michelle Obama wore a Burrows design to a Washington DC event.
I will leave you with an extraordinary documentery that I have to see: Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution. In 1973 a fundraiser took place in Versailles where they pitted French couture with American Ready To Wear. What happened next, changed fashion history.