It’s hard to believe that it was some 18 years ago when American sitcom Sex and the City (SATC) first aired. It quickly went on to become a global success, and simultaneously matched the period that women around the world started to observe and approach fashion with a greater awareness – think nameplate necklaces, Manolo Blahnik shoes, flower corsages and visible bra straps – all of which can be attributed to costume designer and stylist, Patricia Field.
Easily identified by her eclectic style, fiery red hair, and husky voice, at the age of 75 she continues to break all the stereotypes and as a result has continued to be one of the greatest visionaries, with a career spanning over five decades.
“Without seeming too over the top, I attribute my success to my intelligence, confidence, and originality, which is the product of the first two. Add a world of inspiring friends and the recipe is complete,” Field tells Neos Kosmos.
A true New Yorker, it was there that she was born and raised by her Armenian father and Greek mother, who migrated from the island of Lesvos, and no matter where her work has taken her, has continued to call the city home.
“I feel fortunate to have been born and bred in New York City, as it is a multicultural wonderland which provides unending stimulus,” she says.
For Field, fashion was always something that came naturally to her; aside from her parents running a dry-cleaning business, she was also exposed to style through her extended family, helping with the growth and development of her own which has continued to evolve throughout the years.
“Fashion consciousness was always organic in me from a young age. My three young, single aunts Evangelia, Lesula, and Aphrodite were a major influence as I spent a great deal of the time with them when I was a child,” Field says.
“I would describe my personal style as narrative – interesting and original. My range goes from jeans and t-shirts to high glamour.”
It was in 1966 that she took an independent leap into the fashion industry at the age of 24, opening her eponymous boutique on East Eighth Street before moving to 306 Bowery. The shop became a New York institution amongst emerging artists, designers, and celebrities, and is an experience the designer cites as a career highlight, alongside her transition into film and television in the mid-1980s.
“Both have afforded me the unique opportunity to have hundreds of personal experiences with women all over the world,” she says.
But it was SATC that truly catapulted the designer to the top, giving her worldwide exposure, along with giving her the chance to work with budgets in the millions.
Responsible for the style of Carrie Bradshaw and her three friends in the series and then back on board for both SATC feature films, Field became an Emmy Award winner, and the recipient of five nominations for Best Costume Design.
From there the designer went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for The Devil Wears Prada, and has continued to work in television for series such as Ugly Betty, Hope & Faith, and most recently Younger, which is now entering its fourth season.
But at the start of 2016, people around the world were shocked by the news that Field would be closing the doors to her much-loved boutique. While it seemed to be the end of what has been a very exciting era, it was far from it, and a decision she stands by 12 months on.
“My decision to sell and close my boutique was sealed when I realised that I had my shop for 50 successful years and that [it] was time to clear my time and move on to new experiences,” she says, though adds that the one thing she does miss is the “face-to-face interaction with my clients”.
Along with her work on the small screen, Field has continued to keep her creative juices flowing with her pursuit of projects away from the mainstream.
She recently collaborated with Mx Qwerrrk on their first video project QWOJI aimed at spreading the message for those who identify as queer to be out and proud.
“Mx Querrrk is a perfect expression of social, political, and artistic creative expression – the ideal positive experience for my inspiration,” said the stylist, who worked on the project alongside designers Jeremy Scott and Trixie Mattel.
Meanwhile in a bid to bring creativity back to the fashion industry in 2016 she launched ARTFASHION giving her the chance to join forces with some of the most prolific artists around the world in creating custom, wearable art pieces.
While it’s fair to say that the designs featured on her store will not be to the majority’s tastes, they encapsulate much of what Field is about: “originality, creativity, and intellectuality”, something which is harder to find in an age where ‘fast fashion’ is taking over and Normcore – described by the designer as “conformist and boring” – is the overwhelming trend.
But after my exchanges with Field, what emerges as the most impressive is her humility; despite an undeniably impressive CV, the designer appears to have remained grounded where arrogance often prevails. Because in actuality, it was never the chance to meet A-list celebrities or the money that motivated her, but simply because fashion was what she knew, and was good at it.
“Do what’s easy for you. If it’s easy, you’ll do it well; if you do it well, you’ll succeed. Don’t go where it’s difficult, because you’ll compete with others who [have it] easy. Go with what you feel confident and strong in,” the designer said during a conference in New York late last year.
Where others view fashion as a dog-eat-dog industry that can turn ugly quickly, she has always remained focused on the opportunity to explore something deeply personal and in turn make a living out of being authentic.
“One of the main enjoyable experiences concerning costume design and styling is that it affords me the opportunity to express and communicate my visualisations on a platform that others may experience and enjoy,” said Field.
Another significant part of that authenticity is her Greek heritage, with which she continues to maintain ties with through her work. This summer she will be collaborating with designer Apostolos Mitropoulos with a runway show in Crete, followed by an event at Jackie O in Mykonos.
“I would describe myself as a Greek American. I was fortunate enough to receive my Greek culture from my grandmother Sultana and my entire Greek family, who loved me and gave me all that I have in me as a Greek [and] I have many wonderful and artistic friends in Greece,” Field says.
The designer now has her sights set on opening her new art studio on East Broadway in coming months, and is in pre-prep for her third styling contract with MAC cosmetics, while styling various private clients the likes of which include Saudi Arabian royals.
It doesn’t look like she’ll be stopping any time soon. And why should she? At 75, Field is as relevant as ever.
For more of Patricia Field’s work, visit her online gallery and store at patriciafield.com/