Sex and the City designer Patricia Field on the power of celebrity

The famed Sex & the City and Ugly Betty stylist talks about New York chic, her online platform, celebrity style and Trump

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 3:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 August, 2016, 10:41am

You closed your New York store after so long, how does that feel?

“For me it’s not about bricks and mortar, it was an environment and you could find any crazy thing in there. It had so much texture and the clients gave it that too – my clients were part of that collage of culture. My store was definitely a lifestyle community, and that’s what I miss. But the responsibility was too much, and after so many years, I still found myself the captain; but the captain sometimes wants to go have dinner, and there’s no one to take over.”

What’s the direction for your online store

“It’s all about collaborations with artists and designers now. I found a positive reaction to anything that I offered that was unique. There have been 15 years of globalised fashion, and the result is that the stylists, the choices have become so narrow – when I was talking to my clients I was getting that reaction. In New York, like in many places, all the special individual stores are all gone, and I was the only place you could find something unusual. I was hearing that repeatedly. So we put more focus on that online, on those one-of-a-kind, painted or embellished pieces.”

Do you think it’s harder to find something unique in fashion today?

“Well yeah, because many brands just do the safe and the same and after a while it gets boring. Believe me, I’ll go into Zara and buy, but I can’t do a head-to-toe Zara look ... I think people are seeking something more individual. So this art-fashion idea I’m doing with seven artists, each with their own aesthetic, has been great. I came back to the store in an more active way about three years ago. One of the artists is Scooter La Forge, who I’ve been working with for five years. Last year I sold 500 pieces of his.”

As one of the first defining TV stylists, what are your thoughts on how the industry has developed for programmes like Empire and Ugly Betty?

“There are lots of different styles now, The designer/stylist of Empire Paolo Nieddu used to work for me in my store when he moved from Detroit to New York. He was creative and started doing window displays and I needed an assistant for one of my TV jobs and I asked him.. he did Ugly Betty with me, and one of the Sex and the City movies. He loves Cookie, and I would say that he is the closest in the TV costume design world to me - we think in the same school.”

The power of celebrity has become huge in fashion and general American culture. Thoughts?

“For stars like the Kardashians, I think that they sell their personalities more so than just what they are wearing. There’s an obsession with celebrity now, it’s true. Just look at our presidential elections! The people that like Donald Trump are people with minor education, you tell them something that they want to hear, they go “YEAH!” - they don’t do much critical thinking. But America is so big, if you live in New York or LA, it’s got nothing to do with the middle of the country where’s there so much land and fewer people, it’s a whole different experience.”

Do you think New York is still having its big fashion moment?

“A lot of the Asian designers have found success in New York. There’s an underground scene growing, but it’s still underground, which is good because its more protected. You know, I don’t know why China doesn’t make someone like Alexander Wang an offer they can’t refuse.”

As told to Jing Zhang