If I’m honest, being that I’m not a particular acolyte of all things fashion, I cannot say I’m really that versed in the work of Stephen Sprouse. From what I can tell, he was something of a pioneer, in the late `80s, in the intermingling of fashion, art, graffiti and rock ‘n’ roll, his most visible manifestation of same being his famous depiction of a crucified Iggy Pop (see above). On a more immediate level for me, I remember Sprouse being responsible for the odd album cover, notably Duran Duran’s hit collection Decade and Debbie Harry’s 1986 effort, Rockbird, both adorned with Sprouse’s inky signature font. But outside of my narrow purview, Stephen Sprouse was kind of a really big deal.
He seemed to sort of occupy a sorta post-Basquiat/Haring realm of underground artist/fashionista with rock cred, infusing the fashion scene with theretofore un-fabulous elements of rock subcultures. I’m projecting, but Sprouse -- who passed away in 2004 -- may be partly responsible for the fashion world’s later rampant appropriation of the sartorial and tonsorial trappings of punk and heavy metal, something that continues to irk the shit out of me. You’d think I’d have bigger fish to fry, by this point.
Anyway, like I said, he’s never been someone I’ve really had all the details on. Cue Gregoire Alessandrini, friend of Flaming Pablum and keeper of the excellent photo blog, New York City 1990s. Gregoire reached out to me last week to alert me to a 2009 documentary he produced and co-directed about Sprouse, rightly assuming that parts of it would be right up my proverbial alley.
Gregoire’s short film on Sprouse is as vibrant as the designer’s work, and comes with a fun soundtrack and lots of period-specific footage of NYC (along with some interview snippets with frequent Flaming Pablum target, Marc Jacobs). You will enjoy it.