"In his heyday, which was the 1970s, Burrows set a historic precedent. He was the first African American to gain stature as an international designer. He built a profitable company capturing nonchalance, effervescence and sweaty indulgence in matte jersey dresses that looked best on lithe young women slouched in the corner of a disco in the wee hours of the morning."--Robin Givhan
So I was flipping through Essence Magazine's January 07 issue and came upon a pic of Vanesssa Williams in a smashing dress:
I took at look at the credits, and it turns out this $790 fuchsia gown is a piece by Stephen Burrows, a very prolific, yet little known African-American designer (among peeps my age anyway):
Burrow's has been around since the 70's and has dressed celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Oprah, Iman, and Kate Moss. As in the quote, Burrows was the first African-American designer to reach worldwide acclaim and has won several Coty awards (high fashion honors). He's on the level design wise of Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, and Oscar de la Renta. No Joke. Honestly when I think of African-American designers, the only name that springs to mind is Tracy Reese. But there are many more (whom I plan to talk about in later posts), and Burrows is one of the most influential.
So why haven't we heard of him? Fashion is as much a creative field as it is a business, and not all designers have the business savvy to keep their clothes in the forefront. Most labels need a flashy spokesperson (like Tom Ford) or lots of media buzz (Viktor & Rolf) to help move products off the shelves. Burrows is a quiet force, but...I'm feeling his clothes.
I took a look at his website (www.stephenburrows.com) and found a lot of great looks:
Want to know more? Robin Givhan wrote a *great* article about him here.