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1980s Stephen Burrows Beaded Jacket

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When you hear the name Stephen Burrows, one usually thinks about flowing jersey, chiffon, and leather... but bead work?? If you are lucky, you may find an occasional Burrows dress or pant suit but I can bet you that you won't find another jacket like this. It is so beautiful it has actually brought me to tears on several occasions, and this is not an exaggeration. I have seen "artistic" garments over the years, but never has any "art to wear" struck me with such power and emotion. This jacket speaks to the eye, the skin and the soul.

The jacket depicts six beautiful women standing among wild blue and green foliage. The two figures on the back stand proud and tall, with elaborate headdress. The two on the sleeves also have fancy head-wear, but they stand in a more relaxed pose, heads slightly forward which was a pose he encouraged his models to strike when showing off his fashions. The two on the front wear no head-dress though it seems that rays of light emanate from their heads. They stand with their heads down, and the green eye seems to be central in the head, more like the minds eye. All the figures are "painted" in jet black beads, with blood red breasts and large cut glass amber colored "jewels" on their posteriors. They are long, lean and arm less, with emerald green eyes.

The jacket is heavy! Thousands of beads were meticulously sewn by hand onto a silk backing. The jacket is styled like a tuxedo, with real lapels and the cute little tails. I love that he didn't bead the underside of the arm, for the comfort of the wearer. The jacket is fully lined in silk as well. I personally went over the piece and secured any areas that I thought may be in danger of bead loss. As I reinforced, I became more and more amazed at the artistry of the bead worker. The beads are not uncommon (mostly bugle with seed beads used in the headdress and red of the bosom), so if there ever was a problem, the loss could be fixed rather simply.

The phrase "museum piece" is used often to describe fine vintage items, but this jacket really should be in a museum.

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