Patricia Field Loves Catering to the Youth

The legendary ‘Sex and the City’ costume designer sits down with GARAGE to discuss Miami, Art Basel, and giving Basquiat one of his first shows.

by Mekita Rivas
Dec 10 2018, 5:26pm

Patricia Field could use a break.

The fashion icon—whose costume design credits include Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada, and Ugly Betty—just wrapped up work on the forthcoming film Second Act, starring Jennifer Lopez, and is currently designing for the Murphy Brown reboot. “Honestly, for more than a year, I have been jumping from one TV or film project to the next without stopping,” Field tells GARAGE. “I feel as though I’ve been so active. And I need to take a break.”

She’s in the perfect place for a little R and R: Miami. “I just love it down here because of the color,” Field says. “If you go into Gucci, you find shoes in pistachio. If you go in New York, the same shoe is either brown or black, you know what I mean?”

Field has had a beachfront property in Miami for more than three decades. “I bought this place in like ’87, I think,” she says. “I did several movies down here. It was really busy with movies and photoshoots and so on.”

While some of that workload has since moved elsewhere—“I think Atlanta grabbed it,” she theorizes—Miami has evolved into a major cultural destination, the magnitude of which has surprised even Field herself. “The growth of the city has been amazing,” she says. “It was quite a different world in ‘87. Not that I didn’t like it then, but it’s totally changed. It’s become worldwide.”

Art Basel Miami Beach probably has something to do with that. But while Field has a long history with Miami, she’s a relative Art Basel newbie. She didn’t participate until three years ago, when she put on her first runway show for her ARTFASHION project, which is comprised entirely of original, made-to-order, and handcrafted pieces by a select group of artists, curated by Field.

“The concept for ARTFASHION actually germinated from my experience in my shop in the late ’70s and early ’80s with the local downtown artists and designers [in New York],” she says. “My shop was kind of a clubhouse. And they used to hang there quite a bit—Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat. You know I gave Jean-Michel his first show.”

The late artist, she explains, used to paint sweatshirts and jumpsuits in her shop. “He had several pieces that he painted, which were odd, odd pieces, like a typewriter or a TV,” Field says. “And we mounted them in my shop and we had a show for him.”

That fashion-as-a-canvas spirit is what fuels ARTFASHION today. At her third consecutive Art Basel runway show last week, more than a dozen independent artists—including ThesePinkLips, Madly Made, Scooter LaForge, Studmuffin NYC, Jody Morlock, Lara Padilla, among others—debuted their best ARTFASHION mashups at a gallery in Miami’s bustling Wynwood neighborhood.

“I love Wynwood because it caters to a younger crowd, not the big investment crowd, which is not where we belong,” Field explains. “You know, in my life I’ve always enjoyed catering to the young because they are inspiring. I never really pushed my prices into a luxury level. I want to be available for the youth because the youth are what inspires me.”

The vibrant, in-your-face designs came alive with embellishments upon embellishments—think studs, sequins, fishnets, and, of course, paint. “Yes, it’s very edgy,” Field says. “But it’s also wide enough to appeal to people who are less out there, so to speak. And they can feel comfortable in something original and one-of-a-kind.” Again, she stresses that ARTFASHION is not a commercial endeavor. “We’re not producers. We’re art representatives.”

So why, exactly, is Field so passionate about this marriage between fashion and art? “For me, it’s more logic than passion,” she says. “I consider fashion as part of the art family. Sometimes I call it a demigod on the pantheon of gods. I always see it that way because it’s a place for creativity.”

Now that the show has come and gone, Field can finally get the rest she’s been fantasizing about. Well, first she just needs to decide whether she’ll attend the upcoming Second Act premiere in New York.

“I have my reservations to fly back, but I may cancel them,” she says. “I love it here. I’m right on the ocean, and I need to start enjoying it again.”

Patricia Field
Keith Haring
Sex and the City
Art Basel