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Fashion Now: Black Pow!

On a recent trip to Walla Walla, Washington, I took a break from the wineries and epic scenery to duck into a few vintage and antiques stores to comb for sweet scores. In Waitsburg I found a mint stack of early 1970s issues of Look—score! (I actually prefer 1960s-era issues of Look, as fashion spreads seem to have become less of a priority for the magazine in the 1970s, but when Look does do fashion, they do it well.) Case in point: The “Money” issue published on this day in 1972 includes a spread titled “Fashion Now: Black Pow!” that homes in on the wave of black fashion designers and their Read More »

Revisiting Stephen Burrows’ Lettuce Hems

At one point in the 1970s, fashion editor Diana Vreeland told him, “I see this in lettuce,” and so designer Stephen Burrows created a fluttering “lettuce” hem to his jersey dresses. Vreeland apparently meant the color lettuce, not the texture of its leaves, but Burrows’ wavy hemlines became his signature during the disco era. His success ebbed and flowed from the early 1980s, but these days he’s solidly back on top, most recently with an splashy collection featuring his bold prints, neat color blocking and cool jersey style. In honor of his Fall 2011 collection, take a look at Rachel’s Story Behind the Style about Burrow’s 1973 Coty Award win, his relationship with Vreeland and the 40-year history of his label.

Hope in New York, Last Show: Stephen Burrows

Hope Misterek brings her stylist’s eye to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, reporting from the front row and behind-the-scenes in New York for On This Day In Fashion.

Stephen Burrows
Nestled between Spandex World and trimming shops galore in the Garment District was the site of Stephen Burrows fashion show. The collection was shown on an empty unfinished floor, which gave the mood a rough, industrial feel in what apparently used to be the brand’s offices. For those who don’t know, Burrows made his name in jersey in the 1970s, and I couldn’t help but think how convenient it must be to be located next to Spandex World. These days, everyone is working with jersey and doing some pretty amazing things. So, when I saw the show, I was less than impressed. Many people in the audience seemed to not be very attentive, too. There were so many people looking at their Blackberry’s and iPhone’s instead of the show! Read More »

Saturday Night Fever: More than Just a White Suit

Long before the word metrosexual was coined, there was Tony Manero, primping and preening in his skivvies, styling his formidable raven locks into a pompadour as he prepares for the big event of his week, Saturday night. And when Saturday Night Fever was released on this day in 1977, audiences watched a ripped, half-naked John Travolta (the aforementioned Tony) remove the hair-dryer sitting shrine-like on his bedside table, groom himself and flex his muscles Bruce Lee–style. This was back before one too many Snicker’s bars, when the actor could still wear butt-hugging, flat-front trousers and look good. Well, at least as good as someone can look while wearing stretch polyester.

Burgundy leather platforms strut into the camera to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” as the opening credits roll, and we see 19-year-old Tony walking down the streets of Brooklyn, hips swaying like a metronome and head bobbing like a rooster, as though he has not a care in the world. And he doesn’t, except for his clothes, his hair and his Saturday nights at 2001 Odyssey, the dance club in his Brooklyn neighborhood. As he strolls down the street, he lifts his shoes up to compare them to a window store display and confirms that he is indeed looking sharp, proving him to be a clotheshorse as hardcore as any gal worth her weight in Manolos. Read More »

Lettuce Hems and Disco Wear: Burrows Defines an Era


His loungey discowear defined Seventies fashion, and on June 21, 1973, Stephen Burrows became the first black designer to win a coveted Coty Award.

In the fashion world at the time, this was akin to Sidney Poitier winning the Oscar a decade before: groundbreaking. In the early 1970s black models were wildly popular, but black designers had little-to-no representation. (One exception was Ann Lowe, who designed clothes for high society, including creating Jackie Kennedy’s 1953 wedding dress, but Lowe was penniless by the Seventies). The Coty Awards, which were given to American designers from 1943 through 1984, were the Academy Awards of fashion (like today’s CFDA Awards), and the Winnie, given to Burrows for best womenswear, was its Best Picture. Burrows, 29, actually shared the honor with another rising star—Calvin Klein—but, still, in a world of white designers, Burrows’ win opened doors for blacks in the fashion industry. Read More »

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