In Pictures: See how genre-bending designer Stephen Sprouse translated the 1980s downtown New York aesthetic into high fashion

The friends and associates of the late fashion designer Stephen Sprouse read like a who’s who of 1980s superstars. He created designs for Debbie Harry, Axl Rose and Billy Idol, and collaborated with Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Stefano Castronovo and Jean-Michel Basquiat on art-influenced ensembles that mixed high-fashion couture with iconography straight from the graffiti-strewn streets of downtown NYC. Sprouse is currently being celebrated in his home state of Indiana with the exhibition “Stephen Sprouse: Rock, Art, Fashion,” the largest survey of his work to date, showcasing rarely-seen looks and iconic costumes from Sprouse’s more than 10,000-piece archive of mother and brother donated to the museum in 2018.

Andy Warhol, Stephen Sprouse (double portrait) (1984). Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields. © 2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

A new York magazine article published shortly after Sprouse’s death in March 2004, wrote that his runway models, clad in neon and graffiti ensembles, “looked like they’d spent the night partying and were using the runway as a shortcut home.” Sprouse brought the spirit of the punk scene into the realm of fashion, blurring the lines between artistic genres, taking 80’s counterculture and translating it for the high fashion set. Sprouse designed clothing for people regardless of gender and was one of the first designers to work with a transgender model, often collaborating with Teri Toye. The exhibition features Warhol’s portrait of Sprouse, who surveys every inch of the glamorous rock star, staring straight ahead, eyes heavily rimmed in black, topped by a ragged mop of black hair.

Despite financial troubles in the mid-1980s, Sprouse returned to prominence in the early 2000s when Louis Vuitton offered him a collaboration with Marc Jacobs for a graffiti-branded bag – a collection ripe for an aughts-inspired style comeback of 2022 is .

Stephen Sprouse: Rock, Art, Fashion“ can be seen until April 2, 2023, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields.

Installation view from

Installation view of Stephen Sprouse: Rock, Art, Fashion on view at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields until April 2, 2023. Artwork © Stephen Sprouse.

installation view,

Installation view “Stephen Sprouse: Rock, Art, Fashion” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields. Graphic © Stephen Sprouse.

Installation view of “Stephen Sprouse: Rock, Art, Fashion” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields. Graphic © Stephen Sprouse.

Stephen Sprouse, scan lines Dress (1979). Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields. © Stephen Sprouse.

Stephen Sprouse, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat hooded dress with matching shoes and tights (A/W 1988). Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields. © Stephen Sprouse; © 2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY; © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, licensed by Artestar, New York.

Stephen Sprouse and Andy Warhol, Dress (S/S 1988). Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields. © Stephen Sprouse; © 2022 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

Stephen Sprouse, high-low blouse and pants, “NASA Collection” (F/W 1999-2000). Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields. © Stephen Sprouse.

Stephen Sprouse and Keith Haring, men’s tuxedo (A/W 1988). Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields. © Stephen Sprouse, © Keith Haring Foundation.

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