Pat Cleveland Walks the Walk

Cleveland’s contemporary Bethann Hardison recalls her fond friendship with the supermodel.

I always call her “Patricia.” I’m the only one who calls her [that]. Patricia and I became buds through Stephen Burrows and his crew, which was a great force—a posse.

When I’d started to work as a model, we traveled together, which brought us a kinship and a closeness. We would confess to each other how nervous we were to go out [on the runway] each time. You would never think that [because] we were the best at what we did. She would get out there and turn out and create a tornado. As a model, she really brought more to it than anyone expected. I would always remind her that we were pedigreed horses, ready to ride. That’s the [horse] who’s probably going to win the race, who just wants to go. The energy, the holding, the waiting, that two seconds. We would just look at each other, wink or hold each other’s hands really quick.

Pat was in total control. She was always moving, always talking, always laughing—always. When you say somebody is a trip… [that’s Patricia]. Oh, she’s a trip! She was the one who continued to inspire [for seasons and for decades] to come. She was not the average model.

Pat was the kind of person that every fashion designer would want to use. She was a Halston girl, but if you ask
her, the first name she is going to say is Stephen [Burrows]. Their relationship was so different from anyone else. As much as Pat could be very Stephen Burrows-esque— shaking her head and partying—she could also bring the sophistication. She definitely [was a] “chameleon.”

She can reinterpret what [designers create], and make it her own, but she takes it someplace you’d never expect. She completely understands whom she is addressing, which is the audience.

Pat’s memories are quite special; she can remember the things that we did during this crazy time. I don’t doubt anything she tells me. [I remember going on trips], to places like Brazil; Stephen always believed we had to take lots of toys—toys are clothes, that was the expression. You could just see the clothes being thrown up in the air. Pat was trying on everything and just squealing like a pig. Even at the beach, it was always a look. You always saw us coming.
What’s surprising is when Pat was living in Italy, she became a partner of an Italian modeling agency, while she was still modeling. Opportunities like that just fell to her feet.

As I think about Patricia, I have so many thoughts. I don’t have many memories of many people. But Pat I can remember. The story of Pat is completely unique.

Pat Cleveland
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 1977: Model Pat Cleveland (R) dancing down the runway with Sterling St. Jacques (L) during a fashion show. (Photo of Pat Cleveland by Robin Platzer/Twin Images/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
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