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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced

1970's fashion
fashion sketches
disco fashion
When is the last time a major fashion designer made clothes specifically to dance?  The Stephen Burrows exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York is a retrospective of a designer inspired by nightlife.

Stephen Burrows was a pioneering African American fashion designer whose look was defined by slinky knitwear, metallics and movement.  The bright colors, lettuce edged fabrics and body conscious silhouettes were inspired by the popular music of the 1970's, perfect for dancing in clubs like Studio 54 and worn by celebrities of its day.  What struck me was how contemporary the outfits all looked, as if they were a department store display you would see today.

Stephen Burrows was also one of the American designers chosen to represent the country is the famous "Battle of Versailles" fashion exhibition in Paris in 1973.  French couturiers like Givenchy, Dior and Yves Saint-Laurent and American fashion designers Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Klein and Burrows staged an epic contest to prove which country deserved to take the style crown.  While the traditional French designers showed classic dressing with Josephine Baker performing, it was the Americans who blew away the elite crowd with Liza Minelli, modern fashion and a team of African-American models who until that moment, were not considered the mainstream face of luxury fashion.

I love the short film near the beginning of the exhibit showing scenes of 70's New York City with slices of flashy disco nightlife.  It was nostalgic for the gritty, edgy, dirty NYC and how fabulous it was for it.  Stephen Burrows' fashion illustrations were also displayed throughout the exhibit.  You can see how a certain rhythm moves through the figures, colors or not colors, all the fashion is dancing...

Let's raise a mirrored ball to a man who was well ahead of his time and rocking his style still today!

The exhibit runs until July 28, 2013 at the Museum of the City of New York.

1 comment:

Style Maniac said...

Must must must go see this show! And maybe take that black dress with the orange feathers home with me .... ;)

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