Debbie Harry, the Heart of Glass dress

27 Dec

Debbie Harry, Heart of Glass 1979

“Heart of Glass” is a dreamy pop hit that at the very least is pleasing to anyone sane and addictive to those who love to dance. And the video delivered so much more: a beautiful blonde front woman whose delivery matched her persona: Detached, willful, feminine, feminist, bored and flirtatious. And the style! Was she disco, New Wave, rock or punk? Was she an uptown princess or downtown cokehead? Her outfit—a scrap of a dress paired with clear plastic heels—hints at posh but also feels like a one-off. The duality made Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry endlessly alluring and enigmatic. Through “Heart of Glass,” Harry was introducing the world to fashion designer Stephen Sprouse, who styled her rock goddess image from the tips of her bleached roots to the transparent toes of her Cinderella slippers, East Village style.

Debbie harry before Stephen SprouseDebbie Harry before Stephen Sprouse

Sprouse met Harry in 1975, after he moved into the East Village loft above a liquor store where Harry lived. The two shared a kitchen and bathroom, and Harry would often feed the designer’s cats. Sprouse had some clothes he’d “been dragging around for years,” and started to put a look together, cutting up dance tights and T-shirts into outfits and helping her dress. Rock music was a primary source of inspiration for Sprouse, and in 1978 he took a picture of lines of pixels dancing across the TV, photo-printed the enlarged image onto diaphanous chiffon and designed what became “the Heart of Glass dress” for Harry. When that song shot to number one on the dance charts, even in those pre-MTV days, Sprouse’s reputation quietly crept above ground and uptown.

Debbie Harry, Heart of Glass 1979

Watch any Blondie video and it quickly becomes clear that it is next to impossible to draw attention away from stunning Harry—her band mates tried in vain to do so through the lifespan of the group—but Sprouse’s dress does it. In fact, all of the costumes he created for her various videos and appearances hold their own against Harry’s magnetic “It factor,” precisely because they are so perfectly styled for her; they are her. The Heart of Glass dress, for, fits and drapes superbly and, with its hip-high asymmetrical hemline, might have looked Halstonesque were it not for the single, off-kilter strap and DIY print. It hangs from her tiny frame like an oversize kerchief; torn, filmy and strangely unforgettable.

Years later, Harry told People magazine that Sprouse “put a layer of cotton fabric underneath and a layer of chiffon on top, and then the scan-lines would do this op-art thing.” A shadow of a stripe is repeated on the thin scarf Harry bats about and on the coordinated T-shirts the rest of the band wears. In the world’s first glimpse of the band, Sprouse’s styling created the image of Blondie, a group not quite disco and not quite pop, one with punk-rock roots that appeals to the upper-crust set.





info: written by Ali Basye



Comment by kafkette   /

i like debbie harry, blondie, stephen sprouse, & yr blog.
but the photo of her with the dark hair is from much earlier, c1969, when she was in a band called wind in the willows. & ‘heart of glass’ was ABSOLUTELY NOT the world’s first glimpse of her. all the punkrocker types knew who she was for YEARS before that, since ’75-’76, maybe? and the only worry over what type of music blondie made showed up maybe at the time of ‘heart of glass’ by people who actually had never heard them before. they are from the same scene as television, the heartbreakers, the ramones, every-new york-one who then mattered. blondie was a fixture on the tiny punk scene—maybe 500 core people WORLDWIDE, not what people think at all.
other than that, do not worry, yr article is very good. and even my friend, who does not follow fashion in the least, loved the one about koos. i sent it to her, as i will send this one to another friend, who will enjoy it. i just wanted to make the abovenoted clear, because so much of our tiny culture’s history is lost, gone with so very many of our dead. i’m still here, not very druggy & one of the youngest so count me still alive. sadly.

2 Responses to “Debbie Harry, the Heart of Glass dress”

  1. Ade Lee 12 December 2020 at 16:19 #

    Where is the iconic Stephen Sprouse dress now that Blondie wore in the Heart of Glass video?


  1. 45 of the most iconic music video looks of all time - - 11 October 2019

    […] order to create Harry’s silver asymmetrical dress, designer Stephen Sprouse took a photo of television pixels moving across the screen and printed it onto chiffon. This made […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: