clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Stephen Burrows Exhibit Is a Disco Wonderland

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

"Clothes should be fun and easy to move in. To me, they're like toys for adults to play with." These words said by Stephen Burrows set the stage for When Fashion Danced, an exhibition now on view at the Museum of the City of the New York that highlight the designer's creations from the late '60s and '70s.

As soon as you walk in you'll feel like dancing. Maybe it's the disco music, or perhaps it's the fluttery drapes that hang on the ceiling, but something about this show made everyone—including us—bust a move at some point.

Though its on the smaller side, the show covers a ton of ground. It's broken into four main sections with two subcategories on either side of the room. When you first enter, you're greeted by a graphic of Grace Jones, followed by a photo of Burrows and some of his sketches from the late '80s. Then you'll enter the main room, that has four platforms adorned with mannequins dressed in clothing created by the designer. These are accompanied by photos, newspaper clippings, sketches and video that are all scattered throughout the exhibition.

The first platform, "Commune," is decorated with outfits that Burrows created for his friends to wear out in the New York City club scene, a prelude to the opening of O Boutique in 1968.

Against the back are bright pieces from 1970 to 1971 that were designed for "Stephen Burrows' World," a collection that the designer did exclusively for Henri Bendel. Then you can walk over to the central platform called "Signature," where many of the motifs the designer was known for are showcased. You can easily imagine the metallic tunics and lettuce edge dresses draped on the disco divas of Studio 54.

The third and fourth platforms flank a wall baring a video of a 1978 fashion show in Japan, where Burrows made certain that the true "danceability" of his clothing was seen. It seems like one of the most fun fashion presentations ever, and we wish we could've been there to see it live.

"Silhouette," to your right, is where you'll see Burrows' form fitting looks that ultimately led to People Magazine naming him the "Fashion King of the Sexy Cling." The next platform, called "Dance," is filled with clothing as fluid as the poses of the mannequins.

The exhibit winds down with a video from 2013 and then a final look at one of the designer's later pieces, an evening dress from 2005 that is meant to envelope "the body in a bejeweled rainbow of light." Overall, the show is definitely worth experiencing—whether you're solely interested in the clothing, or also want to catch a glimpse of what the disco's heyday might have been like.—Claudia Saide
· Re-enter the Glam 1970s at the Stephen Burrows Exhibit [Racked NY]
· All Museum Coverage [Racked NY]