Patricia Field’s aesthetic is arguably as central to New York nightlife as those who don her designer clothing. Her participation in the underground party scene has made her a cornerstone of the city’s nightlife. As famed official stylist for Sex & the City, Patricia and her fantasy factory House of Field have become household names for the scene savvy. Since the boutique’s inception in 1966, the culture of Field has continued to foster a loyal following that adores her brand as more than just a label, but also as a lifestyle. Her name has become synonymous with a guarantee of fearless fun and provocative punch. The House of Field embodies a diversity reflected upon the black ice of NYC’s streets and subways and vibrant under disco balls dangling over downtown dancefloors.
In our exclusive interview with Patricia and attendance at her Keynote address at the FUN Conference on Nightlife as Social Practice, we got to learn more about just how she has experienced her rise to fame and internalized her key role in the center of the fashion world in the Big Apple and beyond.
WS: How did you initially discover designing as the manner of self expression you would dedicate your career to?
PF: ... I never approached it in that manner. I pooled my talents into my recipe for my career. I did this part subconsciously and part with logic.
WS: How would you describe your journey to recognition in the fashion world?
PF: “(It) was a long and wonderful one. Throughout my journey, I always remained independent enough to keep my creativity protected, so that I could continue to live and express myself positively. This formula has always kept me in good spirits.”
WS: How has the longevity of your career allowed you to interact with trying expectations of being a designer?
PF: Every collection of mine is consistent in its aesthetic and appeal. As time goes on the appeal grows, as it is understood by more and more people, particularly young people. However, many thirty and forty year clients of mine are still there, still wearing my clothes and still telling me how much they have enjoyed them through the years. This is wonderful to hear.
WS: As a designer you boldly straddle and blur the binaries of gender. How have you seen your brand grow and develop to reflect your views on gender and sexuality?
PF: My views on gender and sexuality have always been progressive, liberal and laissez-faire. This attitude has always been a part of my creative process.
WS: Do you actively engage the political sphere when you approach your designs?
PF: Regarding my interest in politics, I love to use T-shirts as billboards for my political ideas. I find however, the young generation is more apolitical than political and in general, my political slogans are not my best sellers. As such, I feel politics has escaped the pop culture. Bottom line, it has become very boring and I understand why the young generation choices to ignore it.
WS: As men's fashion develops and broadens, what do you hope and foresee for the future of menswear?
PF: ...In my frivolous fantasy I see a return to the days of Mozart (1700’s A.D.), when the style of dress for men was extremely more expressive and unafraid. It did not relegate the difference between the sexes in the spirit of expression. Today men are taking a step out on that limb and it is very refreshing.
WS: As a brand and global presence, how would you say your choice to develop an interactive online community has influenced the House of Field?
PF: Transitioning from brick and mortar to online has honestly been quite a challenge. Challenge, is not negative, it forces you to stretch a little further than you’re comfortably used to stretching. My organization is aware and conscious of this challenge and we deal with it collectively on a daily basis. Our improvement is slow but it is definitely there and moving in the right direction. As long as we continue in this path, I remain comfortable with the whole situation.
WS: If the fashion world takes away one lesson from your legacy as a designer what is the message you hope rings loud and clear?
PF: The lesson I would want the fashion world to learn is knowledge and faith in one’s individualism.
WS: What does wild mean to you?
PF: For me, wild is always eye catching and interesting at first. It can bloom into a communicative expression of original creativity or it can wither into something nonsensical.
At her Keynote address at the FUN Conference on Nightlife as Social Practice, hosted by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Patricia delved into the “growing dialogue around participatory, social, and collaborative art practices and their relation to nightlife."
Born and raised in New York City, Patricia has witnessed and prompted transformation in New York nightlife over the decades. Today, she gleefully notes the reemergence of nightlife celebrities and the spirit of dancing and unabashed fun, after an extended period of apathy and sedation in the 90s. She also celebrates a renewed mutual support between clubs and artists - two institutions that share a mission to entertain, provoke thought, and shatter conventions. "Wherever you go, you have variation at your fingertips," she told the crowd. "It’s a little city jam crammed with people from all over the world bringing their culture to your face every day, all the time."
Patricia Field's legacy as a provocatrix reminds us to push ourselves beyond our artistic limitations. Her fire engine red hair and personality to match is a lesson in igniting our own fires, and never forgetting to marvel at the flames in our wake.
Step into the House of Field...