Stephen Sprouse dressing a certain neighbour

Sadly five years ago the American fashion designer and multi-artist Stephen Sprouse died. He introduced bright fluorescent clothing, sixties-inspired outfits and introduced the graffiti print . Fans of his work are Iggy Pop, Duran Duran, Marc Jacobs and many more, but I like him the most for the clothes he made for the hottest female on earth, the überbrilliant miss Debbie Harry.

02mStephen and Debbie, 1987

Sprouse started at the age of 18 working for Halston. Halston was then America’s most fashionable fashion designer. By day, Sprouse dressed celebrities like Barbra Streisand; by night, he haunted downtown clubs like CBGB. In 1975 he moved into a flop apartment in the Bowery, where he shared a bathroom with struggling singer Debbie Harry. Debbie and Chris Stein had recently formed Blondie. Sprouse styled her. He sewed her clothes with classic 1960s silhouettes — swingy shifts and bias-cut draped dresses. He slashed T-shirts, created mini jumpers and  neon headbands.

debbie-yellowDebbie in a yellow Sprouse playsuit (worn with yellow tights)

The asymmetrical one-strap dress she worked in the video for “Heart of Glass” was a Sprouse original, designed from a photo he took of static lines on his TV.  Kate Moss copied the dress for her fall 2007 Topshop collection.


 3229493307_eaf9faeaefThe original Heart of Glass dress, at a Sprouse exhibition

With a loan from his family, Sprouse started his own clothing company. He staged his first show in 1984. He put his models in 1960s styles, women in mini-skirts, men in mod suits, but what wowed the fashion world were his fabrics. Sprouse scrawled graffiti in his distinctive hand, then had it copied into prints. Only Vivienne Westwood had done this before. Sprouse had dyed his fabrics in DayGlo colours. No designer had ever done that.


Sprouse graffiti print used on a Louis Vuitton bag


The same print was used on Debbie’s 1986 solo album Rockbird. Stephen designed the cover.

Long time fan Marc Jacobs organised a Stephen Sprouse tribute, hosted by Louis Vuitton at the Bowery Ballroom in New York on January 8, 2009. Debbie performed in a purple striped Sprouse outfit from 1982.

debbie-purple1Debbie in 1982.


 And wearing the same catsuit in 2009 (!!!)


 Looking cool in a neon green Sprouse dress with rose tattoo print with matching Vuitton bag, 2009.


 No, this isn’t Debbie, but Marc Jacobs with Sprouse all over him. (I know this is a Debbie and Stephen post but I use every opportunity to post pictures of hot naked guys ;-)). 


A book on the career of Stephen Sprouse, “The Stephen Sprouse Book”, by Roger Padilha and Mauricio Padilha, was released by Rizzolli on January 13, 2009.

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Filed under Designers, Style icons, Styling

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