Sunday, October 4, 2009

stephen sprouse (1953–2004)

stephen sprouse

stephen sprouse was one of the most innovative and unique fashion designers of his time. he was not only a fashion designer, but an artist. stephen studied fashion design at the rhode island school of design, but never finished. he got his start by interning for veteran designer, bill blass when he was only 14 years old. at the age of 18, stephen worked as an assistant for coveted design haute couture, halston. a much coveted position and visionary enabled stephen to branch out into his own business, thanks to the financial backing of his parents—stephen sprouse, inc. was born in 1983.

gorgeous style with bright, bold colors

although his business was rocky to start, his experience working for such credible and well-known fashion design houses gave him much admiration and support from famed artists andy warhol, keith haring, bergdorf goodman, diesel jeans, barney's new york, marc jacobs for louis vuitton and his long time friend, debbie harry (from the 70s pop group, blondie).

window display

in 2001, marc jacobs called stephen with an idea for a new, bold and innovative idea for stephen to design a graffiti line of monogram pieces for louis vuitton. at that point, stephen sprouse was reborn and recognized by the masses. needless to say, it was a huge success and sold out immediately.

stephen sprouse graffiti louis vuitton monogram canvas keepall

in 2004, at the age of 50, stephen sprouse passed away from a long battle with lung cancer. even though he will truly be missed and be respected as one of the top designers of his time—thanks to his bold use of colors mixed with his pop art style—we are lucky to have the advantage of enjoying his wearable art; not necessarily as a collector's item, but to love and enjoy for years to come.

in january 2009, authors roger padilha, mauricio padilha and tama janowitz published an inside pictorial book to showcase stephen sprouse's art and fashion design throughout his years as an artist and a designer. this book is truly a collector's masterpiece and as a personal tribute, i leave it on my coffee table so i can peruse it every day.

there are four different colors available for the book jacket

when i lived in new york city from 1988–1990 while studying graphic design, i used to frequent the art galleries and boutiques down in soho and the village. i loved going to keith haring's POP SHOP on lafayette and houston on a regular basis and while walking on my many travels downtown, i stumbled upon stephen sprouse's boutique which at the time, was unfortunately going out of business. to my surprise, their sale was incredibly affordable and i was able to acquire many pieces from this iconic designer. if not to prey on the business' demise, but because finally, as a starving art student, i was able to actually afford some of his most popular pieces.

sketches by stephen sprouse

in 2003, to my regret, because i was no longer able to wear these beautiful pieces, i sold all of my stephen sprouse clothes on ebay. instead of saving them in hopes of one day being able to wear them again, i felt at the time, that it would be a more financially responsible decision if i could make some decent money, which i did. however, 6 years later, i regret every minute of it, especially that one signature piece, the sequined dress (at least i have a picture of me wearing it for halloween in 1989 as a 60s go-go dancer).

i miss you stephen sprouse, and i miss what could have been produced 5 years after his untimely death, because at the time, in the early 80s, you weren't appreciated for your original concept, but for your bold designs. this is for you, my personal tribute to a designer and an artist.

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