beauty icon, debbie harry

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debbie harry

The fashion world is paying tribute to Stephen Sprouse. A new book showcasing the late designer’s talents has just been published, and Marc Jacobs, who famously worked with his friend on a collection for Louis Vuitton in 2000, has spearheaded a second Sprouse-inspired line of graffitied handbags and accessories that hits stores this week. But no celebration of this quintessential downtown figure would be complete without Debbie Harry, who is slated to perform at the party Vuitton is throwing tonight at the Bowery Ballroom.

Sprouse knew it takes a certain type of woman to rock Day-Glo and Velcro, his cutting-edge additions to eighties fashion. Luckily for him, that woman—Harry—lived next door. The pair met in 1975 when Sprouse moved into her apartment building on the Bowery. Blondie’s self-titled debut album dropped the following year, and Sprouse decked the group’s frontwoman in slashed T-shirts, mini jumpers, and neon headbands. The asymmetrical one-strap dress she worked in the video for “Heart of Glass” was a Sprouse original, designed from a photo he took of static lines on his TV. In Harry, Sprouse found a figure whose downtown vibe was the real deal (this was before the Bowery came with a Whole Foods), and his experiments with the peroxide blonde vaulted her to icon status. Of course, that voice—and those cheekbones—didn’t hurt either.

—Alison Baenen

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Photo: Chris Walter /

Now you see me, now you don’t: More diminutive than her stage presence would suggest, Harry tries (and fails) to blend in, circa 1977.

Photo: Roberta Bayley / Retna

Harry, in Sprouse’s custom-made dress, shows some leg on the set of the “Heart of Glass” video at hot boîte New York New York in March 1978.

Photo: Lynn Goldsmith / Corbis

Harry and her onetime boyfriend and Blondie bandmate Chris Stein get into the swing of things, in 1978.

Photo: Harry Goodwin / Everett Collection

Harry and her bandmates, circa 1978. “Blondie is the name of a band” was a slogan utilized by the band in the early days when they realized their frontwoman was getting all the attention. But, as their 2008 tour showed, no hard feelings.

Photo: Martyn Goddard / Rex USA

Don’t try this at home: Harry, photographed in 1978, broke every beauty rule in the book, piling on the lipstick, the blush, the eye shadow, and the mascara. And it worked.

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Debbie does bondage: The singer gets all tied up, circa the late seventies.

Photo: Robin Platzer / Time-Life Pictures / Getty Images

An all-business Harry works the fringe, on stage in 1980.

Illustration: © Andy Warhol Foundation / Corbis

Anyone who’s anyone has her own Andy Warhol portrait. Warhol captured Harry in 1980; five years later, mutual friend Sprouse showed his Fall collection in Warhol’s famous loft.

Photo: Ron Galella /

An artfully unkempt Stephen Sprouse and his muse spotted in New York City in 1985. We have jacket envy.

Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

Pouty lips? Check. Defined cheekbones? Check. A tube of liquid eyeliner? Check. Harry channels David Bowie (or maybe it was the other way around) on the Rockbird album cover, designed by Stephen Sprouse. In addition to 1986’s Rockbird, Harry has released four other albums under her own name.