Friday, January 2, 2009

The Stephen Sprouse Book chronicles the '80s designer

Whether you remember wearing Day-Glo t-shirts and Velcro-closured sneaks in elementary school, or are experiencing the rebirth of neon via American Apparal and Too Much Love, you probably don't know that those old '80s standbys come from haute roots. 1980s fashion designer and Marc Jacobs muse Stephen Sprouse was the first to incorporate Day-Glo, Velcro, and graffiti into fashion, and on January 13, the first book chronicling the icon's life will be released since his untimely death in 2004.

The epic scope of the long-overdue book published by Italian purveyor of art tomes Rizzoli make it worth the wait. The Stephen Sprouse Book was compiled by Rodger Padilha and Mauricio Padilha, who possess the largest private collection of Sprouse's work, and includes never-before-seen archival images, including sketches and Polaroids, provided to the duo by Sprouse's family. Other highlights include images by Andy Warhol and photographer Steven Meisel, and interviews with famous Sprouse friends Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Anna Sui, Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, and Baby Jane Holzer.

Sprouse was one of the first American designers to manipulate conventional notions of style by mixing graffiti and punk with fashion. Despite the critical acclaim he found in the '80s, his collections were met with mixed business success. Today, he's perhaps best known for his 2001 graffiti-sprayed handbag for Louis Vuitton, which Sprouse fan Marc Jacobs is re-launching this spring as a tribute to the late designer.

The book is available with four different jackets, each featuring a different Day-Glo color in homage to Sprouse’s iconic album cover for Debbie Harry’s Rockbird; if you're lucky enough to live near a Louis Vuitton store, you can pick up its limited-edition version of the book. ($65, available at

Preview images from the book (courtesy, and

Stephen Sprouse, early self-portrait, Courtesy Sprouse Family Archives

Stephen Sprouse, Debbie Harry Cut Out Dress Polaroid, Courtesy Sprouse Family Archives
Stephen Sprouse, Debbie Harry Green Dress Polaroid, Courtesy Sprouse Family Archives

Stephen Sprouse, Scan Line Sketch, Courtesy Sprouse Family Archives

Stephen Sprouse, Fall 1984 Sketch, Courtesy Sprouse Family Archives

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