This week, I’m taking my classes to see Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced. It is currently on view at the Museum of the City of New York. Last week, I went to take care of the paperwork and got a special preview.
Stephen Burrows is an American fashion designer, and was very active in the 1970s. He studied at FIT and was quickly hired after an internship.
A few weeks ago, I found a great book The Fashion Makers by Barbara Walz and Bernadine Morris. There was a great biography on Burrows. It explained how his grandmother taught him to sew as a child. He explained: “I was fascinated by the zigzag stitch. I put it on everything.” He liked to use this to finish the edges on jersey dresses, because hems would weigh the fabric down. The zigzag finish makes the fabric light, and curl and wave at the edges. This design signature started to be referred to as the lettuce edge, because it looks like the undulating wavy edges of lettuce.
I just adore the dress above. The combination of colors are stellar, and it looks so easy to put on and wear. Another favorite of mine is the outfit below. It’s two pieces, and just so fluid and romantic.
I don’t wear pants very often, but was crazy for these tulip pants. The loose cut and way the fabric envelopes the leg is so interesting.
I also really liked the mannequins the museum used. Their postures made the clothing come alive. Most mannequins don’t gesticulate in this type of way. Generally, they are ridged and are simply hangers for the clothes. These are so different, and help in imagine the garments on a moving body.
Burrows was also very fearless about pairing vivid colors together. There is a whole section of the exhibit dedicated to color blocking.
I’m not that adventurous when it comes to pairing intense hues in one garment, but I did really enjoy looking. This type of color blocking was a signature of Burrows.
This set against the wall was so intense! It looked futuristic – almost like something by Pierre Cardin or Andres Courreges. These garments were all available at the O Boutique, the first commercial venture Burrows launched to sell commercially. He was later signed to make clothes for Henri Bendel’s in New York.
There were also accompanying sketches. These are always some of my favorite items to look at. It reveals so much about the design process.