Field of Fashion

Patricia Field brings her sexpot designs for 'Sex and the City' to the runway and to retail.

September 10, 2001|By Pledge of Allegiance Tour and What: Heavy metal and mayhem featuring Slipknot, System of a Down, Mudvayne, Rammstein and American Head Charge and When: Oct. 16 and Where: Baltimore Arena and Tickets: $35 and Call: 410-481-SEAT (tickets go on sale Friday) and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Pledge of Allegiance Tour and What: Heavy metal and mayhem featuring Slipknot, System of a Down, Mudvayne, Rammstein and American Head Charge and When: Oct. 16 and Where: Baltimore Arena and Tickets: $35 and Call: 410-481-SEAT (tickets go on sale Friday) and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Patricia Field's world is one of hot pink walls and windows draped with curtains of cascading fur balls.

It's Ronald McDonald red hair and hot pink bras under electric blue toga tops. It's thigh-high orange boots, glittery magenta wallpaper and racks of coats, pants and bikini tops that explode with ostrich feathers or drip lime-green sequins.

In her four years as costume designer for HBO's Sex and The City, Field has spawned and spread major trends like the must-have Fendi baguette and last year's revival of the name-plate necklace. Now, she's making a more direct connection to the masses with the launch of her House of Field fashion line, offering the same bold, sexpot flair that has made the Sex and the City gals international fashion trendsetters and earned her folk-hero status among millions of American women.

"I'm so excited the hair on my arms that hasn't been waxed off is on edge," Field said, flitting about her fuchsia-colored Manhattan showroom and inspecting her collection before her first Fashion Week show last Saturday.

For years, the gravelly voiced New York native has wowed the hip set with her offbeat, vampy vision. After graduating from New York University in 1961 with a degree in philosophy, Field landed in fashion by chance when she got a job as an assistant buyer at Alexander's, a Manhattan department store.

But Field had grown up working in her parents' dry-cleaning stores and wanted her own business.

"I like making my own money and being independent," said the fiftysomething Field, dressed in black Levi's jeans and a blue toga top. "I like the feeling of having my own money and store."

So, in the late '60s, she opened a Greenwich Village boutique and rapidly earned a loyal following.

"She's always been one of fashion's best-kept secrets," said Phillip Bloch, a Hollywood celebrity stylist. "For as long as I can remember, she's always had cool designers do stuff for her store. It's just that the rest of the world took 20 years to discover her."

Gradually, Field's penchant for showing up at fashion shows in outfits like an orange python print coat paired with a fuchsia feather boa and her solid credentials as a Sex and The City costume designer caused fashion observers to begin predicting - and hoping - she would launch her own line.

Finally, last month, she signed an exclusive agreement with multimedia company Walk Away Entertainment to launch a women's apparel line in fall of 2002. For years, she had made purses and vests for her boutique, but this new line will be chiefly designed by David Dalrymple, who has worked with Field in her store since the mid 1990s. And it will feature jeans, full collections of clothing and possibly fragrances and lingerie in the future.

"Pat Field is bringing a very necessary dose of excitement and energy to Fashion Week," said Andre Leon Talley, editor-at-large at Vogue. "She's edgy and she's been a visionary in creating looks that women really respond to."

Field, who works with partner Rebecca Weinberg on styling Sex and The City, believes women have been drawn to the show's looks for a simple reason - her philosophy that a woman's body should empower her.

"Women today, everybody's working and they're earning money, they're not in the same position as they were before," Field said, explaining her fashion philosophy. "It's a time for the individual woman - she's feeling her power, and I don't champion that with a banner. I just represent that. The looks I put on the show are very strong - they're bold and they show women who are not afraid or thinking about what is this person going to think when I wear that.

"A woman's body is one of her powers, like her brain," she added. "It's part of the package, so if you want to cover it and be ashamed of it and put it in a closet, I think you're just giving up one of your best cards."

In dressing quirky Carrie, tough Miranda, vampy Samantha and innocent Charlotte on Sex and The City, Field has come up with an average of 50 outfits for each half-hour episode. And, in four seasons, she's had the main characters in miniskirts with bunny tails attached to the rear, flouncy-yet-sexy ruffled dresses and many, many stilettos. Her work has earned her two Emmy Award nominations. Last week, she wrapped filming of the season's final episodes of the show, which will begin airing again in January.

Cynthia Nixon, who plays Miranda, said women love Field's clothing choices because she offers a daring, sexy and different look.

"She's outrageous," Nixon said. "Her colors are kind of crazy, she has fun and she makes women look very good. I mean, Pat, she shows your body - your legs, your cleavage. She really lets you show your figure."

Field emphasized that the show, which is considered one of the most fashionably influential television series in recent times, has been popular for other reasons.

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