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Stephen Sprouse, designer

NEW YORK -- Stephen Sprouse, a fashion designer and artist who mixed a cosmopolitan, punk, and pop styles, died Thursday of heart failure at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center. He was 50.

Mr. Sprouse's style mixed the polar worlds of uptown and downtown fashion and became known as a kind of "punk couture," said Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York.

"Europe had Jean-Paul Gaultier, but American fashion had no one like that until Stephen exploded on the scene in a blaze of pop art fluorescence," Doonan told The New York Times.

He was known for his edgy look that was popular with punk rockers but was also fashionable for the well-to-do chic crowd.

Mr. Sprouse started designing clothes at age 9, and by the time he was 12 he had met fashion industry heavyweights like Bill Blass, and Geoffrey Beene. As a teenager, Mr. Sprouse sketched for Blass and then Halston before coming to New York and eventually designing clothes for Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry.

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