I have to admit: I’m a huge Sex and the City fan. I became a fan of the show well after production had ended; a roommate of mine in university used to show me episodes and I used to watch during my study breaks. Like most people, I enjoyed it for the quick dialogue, sex chats, the close-up of New York and of course… The clothes. Watching that show without observing the fashion is like watching porn for the cinematography: It just doesn’t happen.
Thus, you can understand my excitement upon learning I was going to see Patricia Field in conference. The woman is a legend of sorts: She’s won an Emmy, has been nominated for an Oscar for her work on “The Devil Wears Prada,” and next year, her eponymous NYC store which she opened herself in 1966 will turn 50. In person, she is petite, with fire red hair and an incomparable style.
Sitting down with Dressed to Kill’s Stéphane Leduc (previously profiled in the blog, check it out here!) she spoke of growing up in a large family with a father who was a tailor and taught her early on about the value of fabrics. She explained that she often goes by the feeling of fabrics as opposed to designer labels… An interesting comment from a stylist so synonymous with outfitting the ladies of Sex and the City with a revolving door of glamorous designer labels.
One of the more remarkable quotes of the evening was her view on the necessity of clothing versus the joy of fashion: “Fashion is art, apparel is only covering your body because that’s the society we live in.”
What makes Field remarkable is her approach with which she dresses the mega celebs she’s worked with: “You have to know somebody to dress somebody.” You don’t say! As a costume designer, Field recognizes the importance of assisting the actor she’s dressing to fully assume the role they’ve been hired to portray; this thoughtful approach has no doubt helped her make it big in her career.
Speaking of big, one of the “aha” moments was hearing her freak out over working with Meryl Streep. (I mean… Who wouldn’t?) She explained that she didn’t even have the chance to meet Meryl before the start of filming, but she knew that Meryl would be playing a fashion editor so “she had to look good.” She also told the enraptured audience that during filming, Meryl didn’t speak with any of the other actors on set, as to solidify her role as the “queen bee” and to transfer the energy of uneasiness on screen.
She also spoke of her defense of her friend John Galliano in 2011 when he was unceremoniously dropped from the Dior label after being recorded uttering anti-Semetic sentiments in a Paris café. Her actions were described as “courageous” by Leduc, given no one else was defending the designer at the time, who is now with Maison Martin Margiela as Artistic Director. Field sent out an e-mail blast to 500 friends, blogs and media, describing Galliano’s behavior as a “farce.”
Throughout the interview, her candor, charm and husky voice won over the packed room at the MAC, and audience members were often seen nodding their heads or verbalizing their agreement with her wise words. Perhaps Field’s views on female empowerment and fashion were best summarized when she was asked about whether or not she believed Carrie Bradshaw was a “fashion victim.” She replied no, and that as a matter of fact she believes that Carrie Bradshaw opened the door for many women to express themselves through their clothing, breaking out of the “suit with a skirt” uniform that dominated much of the 80’s and 90’s. In reality, she explained, the real fashion victims are the men, who are confined to their suits in the workplace and masculine colors. Her witty and honest response was met with hollers of agreement from mostly female audience members, and of course a well-deserved standing ovation.