In the world of fashion, few names shine brightly as Stephen Burrows. I was truly inspired last night at the Fashion Institute of Technology, honoring his 50th Anniversary of The Battle of Versailles and his fashion career, marked by trailblazing designs and impactful contributions that continue to leave an indelible mark on the runway.  Stephen Burrows, an American fashion luminary, burst onto the scene in the 1960s, ushering in a new era of diversity and creativity. His avant-garde approach to design, characterized by vibrant colors and fluid silhouettes, quickly set him apart from his contemporaries.

Early Career and Rise to Prominence: Burrows' journey began in the heart of New York City, where he studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). His innate talent and bold vision caught the attention of fashion enthusiasts and industry insiders alike. Early in his career, Burrows gained recognition for his work with the groundbreaking O Boutique and later became the first African American designer to gain international acclaim.

Innovations in Design: In 1970, Stephen Burrows made a significant mark on the fashion scene with the opening of his boutique, Stephen Burrows World, at the iconic Henri Bendel. This groundbreaking venture was not merely a store; it was a haven of creativity and innovation. The boutique became a dynamic showcase for Burrows' avant-garde designs, characterized by vibrant colors, fluid silhouettes, and the signature "lettuce edge" hem that had become synonymous with his name. Stephen Burrows World at Henri Bendel quickly evolved into a cultural hub, attracting fashion enthusiasts, celebrities, and trendsetters alike. It served as a testament to Burrows' ability to create not just garments but immersive fashion experiences that transcended traditional retail spaces. This boutique marked a pivotal moment in Burrows' career, solidifying his position as a trailblazer in the industry and setting the stage for the continued evolution of American fashion. Complementing his success in fashion, Stephen Burrows ventured into the world of fragrance, offering an olfactory testament to his enduring influence on style and luxury. Infused with the same vibrant spirit and innovative flair that define his fashion creations, the fragrance, aptly named "Stephen Burrows," is a harmonious blend of creativity and sophistication. It captures the essence of Burrows' bold and dynamic aesthetic, evoking a sense of confidence and individuality. Much like his iconic designs, the fragrance stands as a scented tribute to his remarkable career, offering admirers a unique opportunity to envelop themselves in the timeless elegance of Stephen Burrows.

The Battle of Versailles: A Defining Moment: The turning point in Burrows' career came in 1973 at the historic Battle of Versailles fashion show. This groundbreaking event showcased American designers against their French counterparts and catapulted Burrows into the fashion stratosphere. His lively, energetic designs, worn by legendary models such as Pat Cleveland, captivated the audience and solidified his status as a fashion trailblazer.

Enduring Influence on Modeling: The Battle of Versailles remains a watershed moment in modeling history, with Stephen Burrows' designs celebrated as the epitome of style, diversity, and confidence on the runway. His impact on modeling has transcended decades, influencing subsequent generations of designers and models who continue to draw inspiration from his fearless approach to fashion.

Legacy and Continued Relevance: Today, Stephen Burrows' legacy endures as he continues to contribute to the ever-evolving fashion landscape. His timeless designs are showcased in museums and exhibitions worldwide, attesting to the enduring impact of his work. His clothes have been worn by some of America's most well-known women, including Diana Ross, Cher, Farrah Fawcett, Liza Minnelli, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Taylor Swift, Naomi Watts, and Barbra Streisand.

A special shoutout to Audrey Bernard, society editor and photojournalist, for inviting me. Getting to pay homage to the genius of Stephen Burrows was an honor for me. His unparalleled contributions to fashion and modeling have not only shaped the industry but have also paved the way for a more inclusive and dynamic representation of beauty on the runway. Stephen Burrows remains an icon and a visionary whose influence is felt throughout fashion history.