Stephen Burrows' Disco Designs on Display at Museum of the City of New York

By Victoria Bekiempis on March 26, 2013 7:04am 

CARNEGIE HILL — He makes clothing fit for a dancing queen.

That is the aesthetic of Stephen Burrows, said to be the first African-American clothing designer to achieve worldwide fame, whose career was largely launched in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Burrows "helped define the look of the disco club scene, ushering in a new, liberated version of American fashion," according to the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Ave., where an exhibit chronicling Burrows' most famous designs opened March 22.

Burrows — a favorite of celebrities including Cher, Farrah Fawcett, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross and Barbara Streisand — made America a leader in fashion "rather than a follower of Europe's fashion lead," according to museum officials.

Billed by the museum as the "first exhibition to focus on Burrows as an American design force," the show features "original sketches, photographs, video, and over 50 garments, ranging from his first fashion collection to slip dresses that twirled on the floor of Studio 54."

The show emphasizes Burrows' designs between 1968 and 1983, "when Burrows’ style epitomized the glamor of New York’s nighttime social scene," the museum said.

Elements of Burrows' technique that are highlighted in the show include "his signature 'lettuce' edge, red zig-zag stitching, his use of fringe and metallic fabrics, bold color blocking, and slinky, body-defining silhouettes," the museum said.

Burrows still lives and designs in New York City, and some of his most recent clients include Taylor Swift and Chelsea Handler.

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