By Niki Charalambous

From the legendary nightclub Studio 54 to Emily in Paris, the renowned costume designer has cemented a place in fashion history.

She is arguably the most iconic costume designer in the world whose multi-faceted career has spanned more than six decades, dressing the likes of Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, Madonna, Cher, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, including our very own Greek Cypriot singer Anna Vissi, as well as a glossary of New York characters from the early 70s to present day.

anna vissi

Anna Vissi

Aside from her success in television and film, legendary costume designer, stylist and fashion designer Patricia Field published her tell-all memoir earlier this year, discussing her colourful and compelling life and career, including opening her eponymous boutique in 1966, life behind the Studio 54 curtain and becoming a renowned name after the highly successful television series, Sex and the City.

Field, who was born in 1942 and raised in Queens, New York, was the daughter of an Armenian father and a Greek mother who immigrated to the United States from Lesbos, Greece. Known for her love of the absurd and dislike of fads, Field believes that fashion and style are interchangeable. She never intended to pursue a career in fashion; instead, she studied philosophy and government at New York University.

Her memoir, Pat in the City: My Life of Fashion, Style, and Breaking All the Rules, has been described as “a spirited personal history and love letter to New York, fashion, and LGBTQ+ culture, and is overflowing with references to Plato and Socrates, her philosophical passion.”

Patricia Field has undoubtedly pushed the boundaries of fashion for many decades, and her distinct approach to dressing has been widely popularised through her work in costume design, most notably in Sex and the City, where she dressed ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ in a tutu and ‘Samantha Jones’ in Giorgio di Sant’Angelo bodysuits.

devil wears prada

The devil wears Prada

Field’s fashion style had already established itself as more exorbitant and devious by the time Studio 54 officially opened in 1977, with the disco era motivating many to splurge in their attire. Her success may have stemmed from the addition of two ingredients – more designer and higher-priced fashion items – which represented a significant shift in the way she marketed her shop. “It wasn’t just about a higher price point, but also about a more refined fashion sensibility, as I began carrying newer high-end designers such as Issey Miyake, Claude Montana, and Thierry Mugler,” she explained in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

According to Field, the mid-1960s and 1970s were dominated by dance. “That’s why places like Studio 54 became so famous.”

“You had to look interesting and original to get into Studio 54, so fashion was vital. The outfits were very theatrical, and people took their time getting ready to make an appearance and get noticed,” she recalled.

In her book, Field portrays Studio 54 as having famous guest lists, restrictive and subjective entry policies, extravagant events, rampant club drug usage and open sexual activity. She considered the club her second home, where she rubbed shoulders with many celebrities including American fashion designer, Halston, and leading figure in the pop art movement, Andy Warhol, “both of whom became good friends”.

However, it was Field’s strong business sense and fashion know-how that made her one of the most sought-after stylists with a reputation for pushing looks from small designers, many of whom would seek guidance on their creations in the hopes that she would take a chance on them. “For me, fashion has always been an expression of my values and views on how to exist in the world,” she states in her book.

patricia field bookHer easily identifiable style can be seen in a number of hugely successful television shows and films. Her approach to styling starts at the very beginning: the script. After reading the script and understanding the characters, she then meets with the actors in person before working on their wardrobe. “You must develop mutual respect and trust in order to feel at ease in this collaboration.”

Her credits include Ugly Betty, Murphy Brown, Emily in Paris, Second Act, The Devil Wears Prada, for which she received the Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design, and Greek Cypriot singer Anna Vissi on two of her singles from her 25th studio album, Apagorevmeno.

In addition to her successful memoir, a documentary about her life was released last month, transporting audiences into the mind of this one-of-a-kind visionary and queer icon. Happy Clothes: A Film About Patricia Field includes interviews with industry luminaries and actors she’s worked with, as well as an explanation of why she opted to colour her hair pure red after noticing some grey in her mid-40s.

Innovative, expressive, and prominent. This is Patricia Field. At 82, the legendary stylist and fashion designer shows no signs of slowing down, and whether you agree or disagree with her unconventional approach to fashion, Field has cemented a place in fashion history for revolutionising fashion and inspiring future generations to emulate her style.