Stephen Burrows: The Infamous “Lettuce Hem”

Stephen Burrows: The Infamous “Lettuce Hem”

As Black History Month continues, we are honored to pay tribute to Stephen Burrows, a designer whose creative genius has left an indelible mark on the fashion industry. His unique approach to design not only challenged the norms but also introduced a new vibrancy and dynamism that continues to inspire today.
Early Beginnings
Stephen Burrows’s journey in fashion began in the late 1960s, a period marked by social and cultural upheaval. From his early days at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York to his groundbreaking work at Henri Bendel, Burrows’s talent was evident. His innovative use of color, fluid fabrics, and the infamous “lettuce hem” became his signature, establishing him as a formidable force in fashion. This period laid the groundwork for what would become a celebrated career, highlighting his ability to blend artistic expression with wearable designs.

Rise to Fame in Fashion
The 1970s witnessed Stephen Burrows’s meteoric rise as he became one of the first African American designers to gain international acclaim. His participation in the legendary “Battle of Versailles” fashion show in 1973 not only showcased his designs on a global stage but also underscored the growing influence of American fashion. Stephen Burrows’s creations, characterized by their freedom of movement and joyful color palette, were a testament to his genius, earning him a prestigious spot in the fashion history.
Style and Innovation

Stephen Burrows’s design philosophy centered around the celebration of the human body through fashion. His innovative use of stretch fabrics allowed for a fit that was both flattering and comfortable, a departure from the more structured silhouettes of the time. This approach, coupled with his keen eye for color and pattern, made his collections a favorite among celebrities and the fashion-forward public alike. His work not only reflected the zeitgeist but also pushed the boundaries of traditional fashion design.


Today, Stephen Burrows’s legacy in the fashion industry is undeniable. As an innovative designer, his contributions have paved the way for future generations of designers of color. His ethos of inclusivity and diversity, both on the runway and behind the scenes, has become a benchmark for the industry. The impact of his work extends beyond fashion; it is a powerful narrative of creativity, resilience, and breaking barriers.

Stephen Burrows’s journey in the fashion world is a compelling story of innovation, perseverance, and unmatched creativity. As we contcelebrate Black History Month, his legacy serves as a reminder of the significant contributions of African American designers to the tapestry of fashion. Stephen Burrows’s work not only enriched the industry but also offered a vibrant vision of what fashion can be when it is driven by joy, inclusivity, and a deep appreciation for the beauty of diversity.

We invite our readers to share their thoughts and reflections on Stephen Burrows’s contributions to the fashion industry. What impact do you think his work has had on today’s fashion world? Leave a comment below and join the conversation!

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