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Images of a new book devoted to Stephen Sprouse’s drawings (all images by the author for Hyperallergic)

If there were ever a fashion world equivalent of Andy Warhol, the universe found it in Downtown street kid Stephen Sprouse. His day-glo digs have inspired successful contemporary designers like Marc Jacobs, Jeffrey Campbell, and Jeremy Scott, not unlike the slew of Warholian artists on the scene today, which goes to show why he’s uber-relevant, even if you’ve never heard of him.

Stephen Sprouse: Xerox/Rock/Art: An Archive of Drawings and Ephemera 1970s–1980s, edited by Carol McCranie, offers a look at how the pop punk designer translated sharpie on looseleaf into dressing Debbie Harry. McCranie says in the book’s introduction that she found countless folders full of his designs in a dumpster, and knew she had to save them from their incendiary fate.

And thank god she did. A much quieter experience than 2009’s Stephen Sprouse book, this more intimate affair lets us delve deeply into Sprouse’s creative process, dreams, and aspirations. With scans of fabric swatches and cryptic notes flanking glorious marker and pencil sketches, readers get a peek into the glam god’s xeroxed world.

Looking over the countless illustrations shows us how valuable Stephen Sprouse was in capturing the zeitgeist and leading the way in design. Sprouse’s heavy lines, bold colors and elongated figures convey the brashness and energy of his time, the most vibrant and elegant summation of the ’80s power aesthetic. 

Undulating figures, energetic strokes, and takeoffs of Patti Smith and Patty Hearst, show us the sensuality and referents he imbued with each collection. Also included are collages and cut-outs and silkscreens he did to accompany his fashion designs, which round out Sprouse’s entire creative output.  

Stephen Sprouse: Xerox/Rock/Art: An Archive of Drawings and Ephemera 1970s–1980s, edited by Carol McCranie, is available on Amazon and other online booksellers.

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Alexander Cavaluzzo

Alexander Cavaluzzo is a Pop Poet, Cultural Critic and Sartorial Scholar. He received his BS in Art History from FIT and his MA in Arts Politics at NYU. His interests focus on the intersection of fashion,...