HEROES: Patricia Field
The larger-than-life costume designer stitched in pop culture
How does one begin to describe Patricia Field? She’s a fashion industry fixture with a fiery-red mane, a native New Yorker, a trendsetting provocateur, and a champion for LGBTQ+ creatives—and that’s not even the half of it. Field is the mythical multi-hyphenate in fashion, having tried on the hats of retailer, stylist, costume designer, and curator. And is perhaps best known as the costume designer for Sex and the City during its glorious six-season run—the 81-year-old icon has had quite the career.
As a child, Field eagerly absorbed the sights and sounds of bustling mid-century New York. Her mother Marika, a Greek immigrant who built a dry-cleaning empire, inspired Field to go after what she wanted. “Fashion was just something that always felt right and something I could turn to. It really became a way for me to express myself,” Field shares with V.
After graduating from NYU in 1963, Field cut her teeth in the back-rooms of discount designer outlets, obsessing over Wragge separates and Chanel tweed. 1966 saw Field opening her first store, Pants Pub. Originally located at Washington Place, the storefront moved to a larger space on East 8th Street and became Patricia Field, her namesake boutique where Studio 54 regulars would gather to curate their glamorous looks before a wild night out. At the center of it all was Field herself, who began to accumulate a dreamy coterie of designers, drag queens, celebrity clientele, and visual artists. Think Halston and Basquiat, Lepore and Lauper, Madonna and Kravitz.
Field’s ever-expanding network helped her break into costume design. Her unique eye for anticipating and creating trends led to more calls and bigger projects, including 1995’s Miami Rhapsody, where she met Sarah Jessica Parker. The actress would recommend Field to Sex and the City creator Darren Star—and the rest is history. From the iconic white tutu to the Fendi Baguette bags and all those Manolo Blahnik heels, everything Field touched turned into TV-fashion gold. Her Emmy-winning designs for Carrie Bradshaw and Company cemented her status as a one-of-a-kind talent. Sex and the City wrapped in 2004, but Field’s work was just beginning. In the last two decades, she’s won over a new generation with her stellar styling for shows like Younger and Emily in Paris—not to mention earning an Oscar nod for her work on The Devil Wears Prada. Her new autobiography, Pat in the City: My Life of Fashion, Style, and Breaking All the Rules, out now, chronicles it all. Field’s book gives readers a front-row seat to her journey from a tomboyish Queens kid coveting designer duds to a rebellious fashionista and eventually a household name. Alongside the descriptions of gorgeous clothes and crazy celebrity encounters, Field offers a candid reflection on her life’s highs and lows and all the people who made the ride worthwhile.
Despite being in the industry for half a century, Field still manages to surprise. In 2016, she sold her beloved boutique, shifting her attention to a new concept: a hybrid gallery store called ArtFashion. The inventive shop boasts creations from cutting-edge visual artists—handpicked by Field herself. Yet, even with this new adventure, Field is doing what she’s always done—as an undergrad rifling through discount bins, as a store-owner dressing every glamorous oddball in NYC, and as a visionary costume designer—finding hidden gems and sharing them with the world.