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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Did you Know? Stephen Burrows

"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

Hey Guys,
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):

In this picture he's receiving a special CFDA Award (Council of Fashion Designers of America) presented by Alva Chinn (left), Pat Cleveland and Bethann Hardison.

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 ( and found a lot of great looks:

Impeccably stylish, hip, and edgy. I'll inquire about prices (and maybe a lower line) and get back to you.

Want to know more? Robin Givhan wrote a *great* article about him here.


Huey P. Langston said...

Stephen Burrows is a grown ass man. Thanks Claire! It's always good to know about brothers doing something other than recording their demo or practicing their jump shot (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Anonymous said...

I love your commentary Claire!!!! You are definitely a diva doing big things.

~Lisa Gordon
HU '06

Anonymous said...

stephen burrows is hot! Thanks, Claire. I especially love that first orange piece (C:

sloane said...

wow, these dresses are gorgeous, and in great colors. and pat cleveland and daughter are too stunning!

diane said...

Wow. I've never heard of this designer, but his clothes are amazing. I love all the dresses posted especially the orange 1.
He is definitely someone I will be on the look out for.

Anonymous said...

stephen is such a talented designer. his clothes are so comfortable and make you feel fabulous!

ck out his new collection on or his website