major 70s designer stephen burrows is planning a comeback
photography charles tracy
"Please help my dear friend Stephen reach his goal," tweeted Pat Cleveland on Friday.
Stephen Burrows, who broke onto the New York fashion scene in the early 70s with mod-ish tunics in bright blocks of color, and who might be best known for crafting Farrah Fawcett's 1978 gold chainmail Oscar dress to end all Oscars dresses, is raising funds via Kickstarter to produce a collection of reissued classic pieces. Burrows was one of the first critically acclaimed African-American designers and was instrumental in launching the runway careers of pioneering African-American models like Cleveland. He also competed in the Battle of Versailles — the fashion face-off which Robin Givhan chronicled in her most recent book — alongside the likes of Halston and Oscar de la Renta.
"Today the business of fashion has changed dramatically. There is no fashion without finance. My business model has been pitched to a host of investors to no avail," reads the "Stephen Burrows Now!" Kickstarter page. In addition to Cleveland (one of Burrows' longtime muses), designer Zac Posen is also encouraging people to give, writing: "Stephen is a fashion legend. He is a pioneer, but most importantly he knows how to make women look and feel like they are ready to dance! Please support my friend Stephen, he's a talent you should have in your closet!"
A quote from Karl Lagerfeld on the page reads: "When I think of American designer Stephen Burrows, I compare him to Madame Grès, they both work from their soul."
If Burrows reaches his target of $300,000, the funds will enable the designer to rent a studio space and cover fabric and production costs. And while helping to bless the world with reissued disco-era classics like lettuce-edge jersey wrap dresses should be its own reward, donors of $25 or more will also receive a handwritten thank you card from the designer. And backers of $9,975 will receive, among other things, an original Stephen Burrows color-blocked tunic.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Charles Tracy