1953-2004 Stephen Sprouse

Discussion in 'History of Style : a remembrance of things past' started by softgrey, Mar 30, 2004.

  1. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    ny magazine article-this is the link....too long to post the whole thing...but very very good...here are some excerpts...

    http://www.newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/arts/f...0106/index.html


    "Sprouse wedded downtown cool with uptown luxury and space-age fabrics. He created $1,500 sequined dresses swarming with graffiti; silk pants photo-printed with Pop Art; 3-D prints in collaboration with nasa. Sprouse loved rock and roll, infusing his clothing with its raw, pulsating energy. “He put a face on punk and got it out of the rock setting,” says Ileen Sheppard Gallagher, who is curating a Sprouse retrospective for the Museum of the City of New York. “What Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood did in London, Stephen did in New York. It was something we hadn’t seen before. Few designers, if any, were combining rock and roll, art, and fashion in such a unique and creative way.”


    “New York has certain figures who will always personify a particular age,” says Tama Janowitz, a longtime Sprouse friend who chronicled the eighties downtown scene in her novel Slaves of New York. “There was Andy Warhol in the sixties, and then, later, Woody Allen. For a certain segment of New York, Stephen Sprouse represented the eighties.”


    But Sprouse never achieved the unambiguous success in the marketplace his cultural position seemed to merit. He approached the brink of stardom more than once, only to see his company fail each time. “Stephen was like a shooting star,” says the photo-studio owner Nuala Boylan, a friend. “He’d shine very brightly for a while, then he’d go dark and then blaze again.” More artist than fashion designer, he couldn’t navigate the realities of the business world and never found the right partner to help him."

    ...Sprouse’s uncompromising vision cut both ways. “Stephen accomplished something that younger designers haven’t been able to do,” says Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys. “He had a signature style.” Yet that style was often derided as either too retro or too futuristic. Sprouse never seemed completely of his time, which eventually hurt him with buyers and the fashion press. “He’d say, ‘Why isn’t it happening for me?’ ” says Candy Pratts Price, executive fashion director of Style.com and an old friend. His lack of commercial success “hurt him a lot. Whenever he saw people diluting his ideas, he’d be so disappointed. But he was never the guy working for ‘the deal.’ ”

    ..., Sprouse enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design, where a teacher introduced him as “the designer of the future” to a class that included Nicole Miller. For Sprouse, however, the future couldn’t come soon enough, and he left after three months to come to New York. “Stephen was totally fascinated by Andy Warhol and the people who hung around him,” says close friend Charles G. Beyer. “He loved Edie Sedgwick. For him, she was like the sixties Kate Moss.”

    *sprouse and debbie harry,,,Sprouse left Halston after two and a half years, and in 1975, he moved to a loft in the Bowery, where he shared a bathroom and kitchen with singer Deborah Harry, who would routinely feed his cats. Harry, a beautiful ex–Playboy Bunny, and former art student Chris Stein had recently formed Blondie, and they were beginning to gain a following at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. At Halston, Sprouse had loved playing dress-up with the designer’s favorite model, Karen Bjornson, who personified the cool Upper East Side blonde. He transformed Harry into a kind of Bowery Bjornson, creating clothes from ripped tights, T-shirts, and objects he picked up off the streets. In London, designer Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, were already making the conceptual link between fashion and punk with their Kings Road boutique, Sex. It sold slashed T-shirts and bondage gear. Sprouse’s vision was less hard-core, more glam. He may have created a dress with razor blades dangling from the hem, but it was beautifully designed.


    Two years later, Sprouse and Harry moved into a building in the West Fifties, where neighbors included rock-and-roller David Johansen and Candy Pratts Price and her husband, painter Chuck Price. “Stephen and I were totally fascinated watching Debbie’s various dates come and go,” says Candy. “It was like, ‘Wow, there’s Mick Jagger.’ It was like one big playground for us.”


    Art, rock music, and fashion were the central themes of Sprouse’s life. When he wasn’t designing clothes, he worked on his art, doing giant silk-screen paintings of rock stars, and painting pictures over the Xerox copies he made with his large industrial copier. With the advent of music video, rock and roll was becoming a bigger part of mass culture. In 1978, he photo-printed a picture he’d taken of TV scan lines onto a piece of fabric, which he then designed as a dress for Debbie Harry. She wore it in the video for her No. 1 hit “Heart of Glass,” giving Sprouse the kind of exposure it had taken Halston years to get.


    ...For years, Sprouse had been adorning his hands and arms with friends’ phone numbers—his version of a Palm Pilot. Graffiti, both an essential element of punk and an outgrowth of subway art, had already been incorporated into the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Sprouse decided to use it his way.


    “Stephen told me that he was wandering around the East Village one day,” says Beyer, “and suddenly went home and began sketching graffiti-covered motorcycle jackets and sequined miniskirts.” He showed them to his friend Steven Meisel, then an aspiring photographer, who brought them to fashion producer Kezia Keeble. In April 1983, Sprouse’s clothes appeared in a show of young designers that Keeble produced and were such a hit that Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel immediately ordered ten dresses. He was suddenly a bona fide fashion designer—something he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted—and with $1.4 million from his parents, he set up his business.

    *kal ruttenstein(of bloomingdale's) on sprouse's first show... “It was the first time I’d seen Day-Glo clothing. You had very loud rock-and-roll music, which you just didn’t have before in shows. You had boys and girls walking together down the runway, which wasn’t done, and you had Teri Toye, a man who lived as a girl. It was a very powerful moment.” (Ruttenstein says that when Bloomingdale’s started carrying the line, Karl Lagerfeld and Claude Montana always wanted to see Sprouse’s clothes.)

    *sprouse meets warhol...in May 1984, when Sprouse showed his latest collection at the Ritz, a former club downtown, 2,500 people attended, including Andy Warhol. He loved Sprouse’s sixties-inspired clothes and afterward traded two portraits for the whole collection. “Sprouse was definitely one of Andy’s ‘children,’ ” says Benjamin Liu, who worked as Warhol’s assistant. “So much of what Andy was brilliantly known for—the neon colors, the Pop imagery, the association with musicians—Stephen brought into his own work.”


    Warhol, in turn, brought Sprouse into his life, inviting him for dinners at Odeon or Indochine that would lead to after-dinner excursions to Area, at the time the city’s hottest club. Like the Mudd Club, from which it evolved, Area had changing monthly “themes,” with various people creating installations. Doonan recalls seeing one Sprouse designed, in which a “guy in silver jeans, in an all-silver room, watched one of Stephen’s shows on a silver TV.”

    ...*skip ahead...By 1989, Sprouse, in what was now becoming a familiar pattern, was once again unemployed. He lost his stores—he’d opened a second one in L.A.—and his wholesale business. “We were too crazily, overly ambitious,” admits Cogan. "At the end, we were doing close to $10 million worth of business, but it wasn’t enough. The clothing, particularly after that last show, which was a spectacular bomb, didn’t sell. Telling Stephen we couldn’t continue was the worst day of my life.” “After the store closed, Stephen was a little lost,” says Boud. “He was just a freelance guy at that point. He realized fashion was what he was best known for, but nothing about his career had ever been calculated.” He spent more time on his art, creating giant silk screens of rock stars, like Iggy Pop and Sid Vicious. He made costumes for Mick Jagger, Axl Rose, Trent Reznor, Courtney Love, David Bowie, and Duran Duran, and designed numerous album covers and backdrops for sets.

    ...in the summer of 2000, Marc Jacobs asked Sprouse to go to Paris to help with his spring collection for Louis Vuitton. Jacobs, who’d known Sprouse from his own club days, had long been a fan, and arranged for him to stay at the Ritz, where Sprouse, staring at TV static one night, came up with the idea of creating floral prints using huge digitized cabbage roses. But it was Sprouse’s graffiti bag, on which he’d written, in raw painted lettering, louis vuitton paris, that became the big hit, with long waiting lists. Sprouse confided to Boud that even he couldn’t get one. Months later, he could—on Canal Street, where counterfeiters were selling them by the hundreds. “At least the knockoffs were expensive,” says Boud. “Other bags by other designers were selling for $20; his were $90.” Friends bought the standard LV knockoffs and asked Sprouse to paint graffiti on them. :p

    The experience with Marc Jacobs soured Sprouse on fashion; instead of coming away envious of Jacobs’s lucrative LVMH deal, he realized he’d never be able to work in such a rigid corporate structure.
     
  2. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    and in the end...

    :flower:
    In Paris, the fall 2004 shows were in full swing, with people saying an emotional farewell to designer Tom Ford, acting as if he’d died when he was only leaving Gucci. On Sunday night at the Vuitton show, tucked inside the program, people found a slip of paper that read, “This collection is in loving memory of our friend Stephen Sprouse.”


    Back in New York, Boylan arranged a small funeral service. On March 10, 25 friends gathered in New Jersey for the cremation. With pens and Magic Markers, they covered his wooden coffin in graffiti, writing messages to him on the inside and outside surfaces of the box. Then, before closing the lid, someone placed a Magic Marker in Sprouse’s hand, so he could write the last words himself.

    rip... :ninja: :heart:
     
  3. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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  4. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    1997 Times story...looking vaguely Iggyish
     
  5. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    sprouse designs-2000
     
  6. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    sprouse at risd-
    sprouse back home
    sprouse doing a fitting on angelica huston w/halston in the early 70's
     
    #6 softgrey, Mar 30, 2004
    Last edited by moderator starrb81477: May 26, 2007
  7. tangerine

    tangerine Soviet Camaro

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    Great article, softgrey! Thanks for posting it! :punk: :heart:
     
  8. Spacemiu

    Spacemiu New Member

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    I love Stephen Sprouse :heart: he was amazing, i think eh was really important and special.
     
  9. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    it's amazing that he could have been part of that whole scene and have so many influential people around him and still never managed to achieve financial success...can you imagine...he lost almost 1 and a half million dollars of his family's money... and then some...:eek:

    talent just isn't enough...you need the business side in order to survive and too many talented artists just cannot cope with business matters...(where would ysl have ended up without peirre berge?...probably like claude montana.. :unsure: )...they are just too sensitive...

    and so many artists have a self-destructive streak...3 packs of cigarettes a day? :eek: he killed himself...he just did it veeerrrry sloooowwwly... :ninja:

    i'm very glad the museum of the city of ny is going to do a retrospective of his work...it really was an integral part of what made the ny scene in the 80's...his style really defined the decade...i hope they will do a good job...there are so many of his pieces that i can recall to the last detail...i'm looking forward to that, at least...(hope they don't screw it up)...i don't think they've ever done any kind of fashion exhibit...hopefully they will enlist the help of some of sprouse's many talented friends....

    :innocent: :flower:
     
  10. Atelier

    Atelier Hoppity Hop

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    That photo of Halston working Angelica, actually just his head part, was my first Avatar when I joined tFS. I never noticed until now Stephen was down there.
     
  11. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    pretty wild, huh...

    i never knew about the halston connection until recently...apparently he worked with him for over two years...it's hard to imagine the scruffy guy rubbing elbows with all those shiny uptown types...but i'm sure it was an amazing experience... :p ...i would love to have been a fly on the wall..dinner with diana vreeland..etc... :heart:
     
  12. rayncloudx

    rayncloudx New Member

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    Hi softgrey
    do you know exactly which museum it is and when it will be shown?
    thanks :flower:
     
  13. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    the museum of the city of ny...new location somewhere downtown near city hall...

    no specific dates given...i believe sometime in the fall... :flower:
     
  14. rayncloudx

    rayncloudx New Member

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    thank you

    :blush: i've never heard of that museum before.. but i'll try to check it out
     
  15. LolitaLuxe

    LolitaLuxe Vision of Paradise

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    i was truly upset when he died, he is one of my faves - his work always spoke to me in a big way , definatly left an influence on me. I actually still have an editorial of his spring '98 collection ( my favorite collection of his) from now defunct club culture ' zine sweater ( the editor later went on to create nylon) i looked at it the other day and it is still very cool to me. i met him several times during mercedes benz fashion week spring 2002 when i was woking as a volunteer and dressed for a few shows. it was my first time in such an environment, and i was so excited when i saw the tents were done by sprouse, i was completely surprised !

    i still have the day glo t shirt too :lol: he was everywhere taping everything, and i kept bush rushing view :blush: :lol: he was so cool ;)
     
  16. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    keep that t-shirt lolitaluxe...

    just spoke to a friend today who worked with him last year...apparently he was designing clothes again...my friend said all the clothes for the shoot were-3D...yes, sprouse was designing 3D clothes...my friend has a pr of 3D glasses from the shoot that say SPROUSE...he was always pushing the envelope...very cool indeed... :flower:
     
  17. brian

    brian New Member

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    3D?
    That sounds amazing...

    I miss Stephen :(
     
  18. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    i found a couple more great pics...

    stephen...
     
  19. softgrey

    softgrey flaunt the imperfection

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    i lovelovelove this mini dress...!!!...

    my guesstimate is that it's circa 1988... :heart:
     
  20. Spacemiu

    Spacemiu New Member

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    its so sad !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    i love him :heart:
     

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