I was a half hour late for my re-scheduled meeting with Patricia Field. As I made my way through her New York store, I recognized her immediately (the signature red hair was a giveaway). When I introduced myself, there was a moment of hesitation as she checked me out with a cautious glance. She was reviewing how the merchandise was being displayed and how the pants that were hitting the floor needed to be moved. I knew immediately we would hit it off when I said "retail is detail" and the New York skepticism disappeared.
Patricia Field is an internationally known stylist, designer, costumer and long-time retailer. She put the fashion character into the Sex and the City TV series and the two follow up movies, and dressed Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Among her fashion achievement awards, She has a coveted Emmy for costume design, and an Academy Award nomination for The Devil Wears Prada. Although her fashion experiences are legendary, she continues to make a huge impact on modern fashion. Field is said to have started the leggings movement back in the 1970s, and made Manolo Blahnik the "it" shoe of the millennium.
As I followed Field to her office, she continued to give direction to her staff, all of whom were dressed in the latest street wear from the store. Field made me coffee and we spent some time getting to know each other. She started working at age 14 at the family dry cleaners where she learned about fabric and clothes. She began working in retail at a discount department store, and then opened her first boutique. She majored in political science in college and when I told her that I had been elected to our city council, she revealed that even though she is fascinated with politics, she could never see herself running for office since compromising on her strong convictions was not a possibility.
When asked about the phenomenal success of Sex and the City, Field explained how the series pushed the envelope on sex, fashion and the single woman in the late 1990's. She was brought in by Sarah Jessica Parker, with whom she had worked on Miami Rhapsody. Field’s favorite design from Sex in the City was the Versace dress that Carrie wore in Paris waiting for "the Russian.” She styled the scene with the dress of a thousand layers that became one of those film fantasy moments.
We ended our chat back on the selling floor with Field showing me selected designs she thought would work well in Benicia for Fashion Runway Weekend, even trying on a jacket from the House of Field Collection to demonstrate fit. An afternoon in the presence of a fashion legend is the stuff dreams are made of. Luckily for us, the Field of Dreams will become reality in October when Patricia Field comes to Benicia.