Disco down to the museum

The Museum of the City of New York continues to intrigue us with its exhibitions on a wide range of topics. We offered up an overview of the cultural destination back in the fall as part of our New York-themed October issue, then paid a return visit in the current issue for “Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers,” which continues through Sept. 15.

Now, MCNY has us contemplating another trip to catch its newest exhibition, “Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced.” Opening today, March 22, it will be the first major exhibition exploring the work of the fashion designer who helped define the look of the “disco generation.” Noted for his innovative use of color and sensuous clothing, Burrows is considered the first African-American designer to reach international fame.

After growing up in New Jersey and graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Burrows hit the fashion scene in the late 1960s and went on to become known for signature elements, from “lettuce” edging to red zigzag stitching to using fringe, metallic fabrics, bold color blocking and slinky silhouettes. The fashions – equally fit for a dinner party as the dance floor – were worn by celebrity clients including Lauren Bacall, Cher, Farrah Fawcett, Jerry Hall, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross and Barbra Streisand.

The exhibition features original sketches, photographs, videos and more than 50 garments with a focus on the most pivotal period in Burrows’ career (1968-83) when his style was synonymous with New York’s vibrant nightlife.

“Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced” is organized by Phyllis Magidson, the museum’s curator of costumes and textiles and guest curator Daniela Morera, with exhibition design by Cooper Joseph Studio. To accompany the exhibition, the museum publication “Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced” will be published by Rizzoli USA.

“Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced” will run from March 22 through July 28 at the Museum of the City of New York, at 1220 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. For more, visit mcny.org.

– Mary Shustack

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