Patricia Field

The fashion guru on the importance of hair, her Las Vegas TV experience and The Godfather’s contribution to American fashion

Sultana and Putana might be the two luckiest teacup poodles in the world. Not only do they get to spend their days bouncing around a boutique that mirrors Barbie’s dream closet in New York City’s fashionably gritty Lower Eastside, but their dog-mama is fashion goddess Patricia Field. The Devil Wears Prada, Sex and the City and Confessions of a Shopaholic—these Hollywood hits owe their following to Field’s wardrobe design. She was single-handedly responsible for creating the visual palette that had every girl clamoring for Carrie’s Choos and Miranda’s Louboutins.

You may not wear it, or understand it, but you know the 71-year-old’s style. It’s the way women should look when they leave the house: fun, playful, eclectic. On Sept. 6, Field comes to Crystals at CityCenter to host Fashion’s Night Out, curating a fashion presentation and presiding over a Charity Crawl, where a portion of the night’s proceeds will be given to partner charities selected by each store. This won’t be Field’s first time in Las Vegas. She actually lived here in the ’80s while orchestrating the wardrobe design for the NBC television series Crime Story.

Clear up something for us: Is it Pat or Patricia?

Mostly everybody calls me Pat. People who don’t know me as well might call me Patricia. I’m good with both. Just don’t call me Patsy. Only my family calls me Patsy. I don’t know where they got that from. One time I worked with Laurence Fishburne—I looked at him, and I said, “Hello, Larry.” And he said, “My name is Laurence. Never call me Larry.” I said, “OK, fine.”

Your flaming red hair has become your signature. How long have you been a redhead?

I started doing the red thing when I was doing Crime Story. Before that, I was doing a lot of different colors. Somewhere in the early ’80s, I guess it was, the gray was getting to me. So then I started with all kinds of colors, and by the end of the ’80s I just stayed with the red.

I have very curly hair, and when my hair is straight, I will walk into a room and not one person knows who I am. And I ask myself, “Does hair really mean that much?” So, does it?

It means a lot. As a matter of fact, in my world, it’s one of my pet peeves when I do a movie or a TV show and you do the clothes, and then the hair and makeup don’t follow through on the look. In the film industry, unlike [magazines], there’s no art director on the top. So the hair and makeup is one union, and the costumes are another. They’re autonomous, and you try to work with them and explain to them, “This is the look, and this is what should accompany the look to complete the story. …” Rarely do you achieve it. It’s like composing a sentence that makes no sense.

How was your experience living and working in Las Vegas on Crime Story?

I loved that job. The producer/creator was Michael Mann of Miami Vice fame. I did two seasons, [and] it was so much fun. I had such a ball. I love the heat. And I had an apartment on the golf course by the Hilton.

It seems like you’ve co-collaborated with every major brand—Mattel, iconic handbag-maker MCM, Diet Coke, even Kotex. Is there anything outlandish you’ve turned down?

I love to do products with other brands. That’s one of the other things I enjoy. I really do like the variety from mundane to crazy. Something that would cause me to turn down a project is disorganization. I have a project with a company, and it’s still up in the air. It’s been going on for two years. They don’t know what they want to do, but they keep having meetings. That’s the kind of project where you lose your enthusiasm. Your creative juices just dissipate because you go through a ringer.

Where does America’s fashion inspiration come from?

Fashion in the U.S. is a direct reflection of the culture, and we do not have an aristocratic history. We are a country of immigrants, all who came here to make a better life. This is our history: We were workers and farmers and became cowboys and so on. So … the natural expression of our culture was work wear, athletic wear. We turned underwear into ready-to-wear T-shirts—T-shirts were underwear before Marlon Brando wore a T-shirt in a movie. Now everybody wears T-shirts. Everybody worldwide [wears] jeans, sneakers—this is all-American. And the reason that [American fashion has] continued to be strong and is getting even stronger is because American culture is the most modern culture in history.

What are your interests outside of fashion?

I love design in general; I’ve been having fun with interior design. I love politics. I love philosophy. I love history. I love cars. I have a beautiful car. I only own cars that I’m in love with, and I keep them forever. Today, cars all look the same to me. I cannot tell one from the other, and they don’t look that interesting. My car is a 2002 Ford T-Bird, and it stands out like a design star.

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