Welcome to Stephen Burrows’ World—again. One of the preeminent American designers of the seventies, Burrows is beloved by the cognoscenti, but little known by the public, despite having won three Coty Awards and been one of only five American designers to represent the U.S. at the legendary 1973 fashion exposition in the Palace of Versailles. Last year, Henri Bendel, where Burrows had a hugely successful boutique back in his day, relaunched the designer with a brand-new, in-store atelier. For his Spring 2003 show, his first of the twenty-first century, he invited “the Misses” (his term for seventies supermodels like Alva Chinn, Pat Cleveland, and Karen Bjornson) to walk for him, but made no other concessions to the past. "I want to be to be as modern as I can,” said the designer, and sent out a resolutely up-to-the minute collection to prove it.

Burrows prefers clingy, flowing materials like silk and jersey, and worked these into deceptively simple column dresses with wonderful variants on the halter top. Some incorporated ribbons, others were cut high on the leg, still others pulled off virtuoso feats of engineering, but all gave an impression of grace and fluidity. Daytime looks included a bright jersey dress with a track suit-like jacket and a black ensemble with red top stitching (a reference to the designer's original, signature, red-stitched lettuce hems). Long a champion of bold colors, Burrows built this collection around vibrant hues—citrus yellows, ocean blues, and orchid reds—inspired by "tropical fruits and the lushness of an island rainforest."