Stephen Burrows was born in 1943. After studying at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art as well as the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Burrows went to work in 1968 for the New York departmental store Henri Bendel.
He had his own store-within-a-store, where customers came for simple jersey and chiffon outfits which defined the New York style of the early 70's.
In 1971, famous designer Halston told Interview magazine that "Burrows is one of the unrecognized geniuses of the fashion world, he gives the most original cut in America and the thing is really cut."
With partner Roz Rubenstein, he left Bendel in 1973 to open his own design house. Early in his career, he was noted for his adventurous approach to clothing design and construction. He created garments in leather, notably a nail-studded black jacket and patchwork trousers. He was awarded the prestigious Coty Fashion Award in 1973, and again in 1974. In all he collected 3 Coty Awards during his career. Also in 1973, Burrows took part in the legendary Franco-American fashion extravaganza at the Palace of Versailles in France alongside Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass and Yves St. Laurent. There has been a gap when Burrows was not in the headlines. He did not stop designing clothes, but had a special made-to-order and bridal business. For a while he moved to New Jersey to take care of his brother who died of AIDS.
In March 2002, the 59 year old 3-time Coty Award winner, opened a new boutique in New York. In the year 2000/2002, the city of New York decided to honour American fashion designers by placing bronze plaques along the pavement of 7th Avenue, the great street of fashion in New York. This has been called the "FASHION WALK OF FAME." Stephen Burrows was one of those honoured. Last year Henri Bendel relaunched Burrows with a brand new in-store atelier. After a long break from catwalk shows, Stephen Burrows took part in New York Fashion Week in February 2003. He showed a collection of garments for Fall 2003 which were greatly admired.
Friends with Warhol, dressing Cher, partying at Studio 54: Stephen Burrows was the designer for the drug-laced disco days - and one of the first African-American names in the industry. Known for his signature "lettuce hems" and sexy, flowing chiffons, Burrows notably exaggerated stitching instead of hiding it, and often used bright colours like red for the thread. After his clothes sold successfully at O, a NYC gallery-boutique located across from Max’s Kansas City, Henri Bendel's created an atelier in the basement of their store called "Stephen Burrows' World." But in 1982, Bendel's was sold, and Burrows' fame and fortune went with it. In 2002, after 20 years of obscurity, he made one of the biggest comebacks in fashion history with a re-vamped Bendel’s boutique and, later, Fashion Week shows. Soon after, he also debuted a watered-down version of his line on the Home Shopping Network.
Lots of chiffon - gathered, draped, and always sexy; vibrant disco-era colours like fuchsia, orange and turquoise; mini-miniskirts; and, most of all, soft, sumptuous jersey. His hallmark was the highly visible use of machine-made stitching, often zigzags, which he used on the hemlines of skirts, creating a fluted, crinkled effect that was often described as a "lettuce-edge". He top-stitched in contrast colours and inlaid patches of colour. Burrows is known for comfortable, supple leisure clothing and for bright, body-conscious garments. One of Burrows favourite cuts is the asymmetric (where the hem is cut on the diagonal) about which he said "there is something nice about something wrong". But while there are elements of Burrow’s past success, his current collections are modern and functional, and made for the world today. The clothes are so comfortable-yet-sultry that one model exclaimed, "Wearing Burrows makes me feel like I'm walking into a room naked!"
Vanessa Williams, Pat Cleveland, Alva Chin. Andre Leon Talley loves him.