The closing of Patricia Field’s store on the Bowery is a game-changer. The store—part retail, part salon, part glamour, part acid trip—was where the day met the night. A gazillion sequins and false eyelashes altered personal states, blurred lines and ultimately defined cool. Pat (I always called her Pat) and her minions have dressed generations of club goers, turning peasant girls into Cinderellas and frogs into Prince Charmings. The fashion forward flock flocked to her store, wherever it was, piecing together fabulousness from thousands of inspired pieces.
A rotating gang of stylists, including hair and make-up svengali’s steered the cognizant to perfect finds and the less sure into confidence. They always threw in-store parties or at clubs and everyone showed to flash their style. Trends were always there before magazines declared it, before big designers knocked it off, before the pundits pushed it. Pat was always way before the pack. Her flare, vision and push for really good style broke down gender, political and genre barriers. Her eye and courage earned her two Emmy wins and a host of award nominations, including an Oscar nod for The Devil Wears Prada. Sex and the City defined Manhattan’s new dating scene, while Pat defined every single look on the iconic show.
Pat was everything everyone called her and she carried it proudly. An uncompromising truth was always her curse and her greatest asset. When you were it, you were it; when you were over, it was simply so. Like some majestic bird, she knew when a fledging needed to leave the nest to soar on its own. Some soared, some not so much. The new was always most important—the new was what was being sold.
Sex and the City
Yesterday, I congratulated Pat on a life well-lived and a continuing life of wonder. She was on set when I called her, working her film and television career. She will focus on that world and the other projects that retail took too much time from. Her “children” will thrive, becoming superstars and leaders, taking what they learned from the legend to grow. At the store’s holiday party Thursday, I asked her fashion superstars what they had planned for the future. Most had only heard the news a few days before, but everyone was confident that Pat had properly prepared them for the world. Pat herself will not easily be replaced, as someone so out of this world yet so down to earth is rare.
I asked Pat when the era will end: “I will be closing the store this spring, approximately March [or] April,” she said. “I do not have an exact date, as the closing of the store will coincide with the closing of the real estate sale.”
During the party, talk was of all Pat’s superstars from eras back. Some names fell through the cracks, but others were mentioned with the reverence of legends: Veronique, Don Patrone, Mark Hudson, Sarah Hudson, Scooter LaForge, Lonnie Barnes, Paul Alexander, JoJo Americo, Steven Kirkham A.K.A. “Profidia,” Barbie, Kozue, Myra and Richard Alvarez.
I asked Pat’s assistant Rosey Vaughn about the designer’s impact: “It is an honor to give you a quote about the woman who taught me everything,” she said. “Without Patricia Field coming into my life I would still be a lost flower child from California looking for my voice, confidence and family in NYC. She taught me how to write emails, market products and how to handle myself as a strong, professional business-minded woman. Having spent 3 1/2 wonderful years as her assistant, I know how very special of a person she is and how she always takes care of her business, friends and family. It is her love for her own independence that has always encouraged me to get mine. Also most importantly she taught me the phrase, ‘Time is money.’”
Vaughn has already landed a big job. They all will. Pat was, above all else an inspiration. I hope to keep in touch. My decades-long friendship with Pat has inspired me to reach for the stars and wear who I am well.