Late 1970s Stephen Burrows Hand Beaded Asymmetrical Hem Jersey Dress
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Stephen Burrows was known for his innovative use of matte jersey fabrics in a rainbow of colours. He colour blocked it, detailed it with beading, draped it on the bias and added cutouts to highlight the body. He used the Jasco-brand jersey for his work which was light in weight and had some stretch. Many of his pieces, including this one, had their hems finished with a complex zig zag edging. This became known as a 'lettuce' finish and became his signature. His first boutique was simply known as "O" and opened in 1968 with a cofounder. The “Stephen Burrows World" label launched in the summer of 1970 as part of an exclusive in-store boutique for Henri Bendels. In 1973 he was one of the five American designers that participates in the “Battle of Versailles” fashion show, a spectacular competition between American and French designers. That year marked his first Coty win, which was also the first win by Black designer, and he won it again in 1974 and 1977. He left Bendels shortly after only to return again in 1977, 1993 and 2002 for short stints each time. By the late 70s and into the 80s his work was being worn by some of the biggest names in Hollywood like Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand and Cher. His work was the subject of the 2013 exhibit titled 'Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced' and which was the first major exhibit of the work. Another followed at SCAD who presented “An American Master of Inventive Design,” in 2014. This is an amazing example of Stephen Burrows work and it feels as relevant today as it would have when it was made.
The dress is made from his signature slinky and sexy black jersey. The entire dress is suspended from two tiny straps at the shoulder and falls from there in a beautiful bias cut that ends with an angled asymmetrical hem. This angled cut leaves one leg more bare so that when you walk or sit you get a flash of more skin on that side. He designed his pieces to not be worn with undergarments believing that they should just skim over the body like a dancer. The jersey is opaque enough to do this and he was after that simple and easy dancer feel that the dress has. It is a dress that just slips on and falls into place, floating over the body, without being too tight in any area while still fully highlighting the body beneath. The bodice is truly spectacular. It is fully hand beaded across the bust and down the center front in a densely applied mix of tube beads, seed beads and faux pearl beading. The bead work has all been applied by hand and you can clearly see this is the case on the back side of the fabric. The lower edges of the dress are finished in his signature lettuce hem seaming. It is a fabulous example of his work and I love it. Excellent condition
Unlined and slips over the head with no closures. Tagged a vintage 10. The fabric does have some stretch so will accommodate a range of sizes. I have provided the comfortable range of stretch when laying flat. Perhaps a bead missing here or there but no bare spots.
Bust: 16-19" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 16-18" flat across from side seam to side seam
Hips: 19-24" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 56" from top of shoulder to longest point of hem, 38" to the shortest
Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.