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Patricia Field Talkasia Transcript


LH: Lorraine Hahn
PF: Patricia Field

Hello and welcome to Talk Asia, I'm Lorraine Hahn. My guest today is fashion designer, Patricia Field.

A native of New York, she studied languages and political science at University, but found herself more attracted to the city's trendy clubs and fashion scene.

After a brief stint apprenticing at department stores, Field opened her own boutique in Greenwich Village at the age of 24.

Loud but chic, her early designs had wide appeal, and her reputation for "fashion forward" made her popular among celebrities and fashionistas.

In the 1980s, she began costume designing for television and film, and has won two Emmy awards.

More recently, she shot to superstardom for her work on the trend-setting series "Sex and the City."

Field is celebrating her 40th anniversary in the fashion business and joins us today.

Block A

LH: Patricia welcome to Talk Asia. It's so good to see you in the flesh! Welcome to Hong Kong as well. 40 years! 40 Years! PF: I don't look a day older... That's quite an accomplishment! How has the journey been so far?

PF: Well, I have to say that I really wish my life on everybody. I am having a wonderful life, and I just hope for forty more. Thank you for asking!

LH: What is your definition of style?

PF: I think I would have to define style as a unique way of appearing to the rest of the world. It's something that has to do with your own originality and something that has to do with or is synonymous with your signature. To me that is style. It is not on the other hand something that you find in a magazine. The things that you find in a magazine are all suggestions and pieces of style. But style is something that belongs to an individual person. It's like sexiness or any other attribute.

LH: And your ideas, where do you get them?from books, from art, or from the streets?

PF: Well, I guess I get them from many places at once. From history, from friends, from my own imagination, just thinking about what is beautiful to me and trying to attain it or paint it or show it.

LH: And you recently just opened a boutique in New York. How different is that going to be from the other stores in the past?

PF: Well, it's not going to be entirely different and then it's going to be different, because it's a new one. And it's a different space with a different design and a new location. And the thing that it will be that the others aren't?or couldn't be?is an accumulation of all of them, sort of a pentimento plus the newness of the new one.

LH: Your work on "Sex and the City" has made you very popular. How did you get involved? 17:33:11

PF 16:48:52: Well I got involved with Sex and the City because basically I worked with Sarah Jessica Parker prior to Sex and the City on a movie called Miami Rhapsody and I had worked with the producer as well. I would definitely say Sex and the City put me world wide. I mean after all it reached every quarter of the world. Not one person involved with that show could have single handedly created that success. It was just all the pieces just came together. We didn't even know it. We knew it when the reaction happened. I would say it came second season -- it just kinda blew wide open. And we were like 'Oh, my God! Oh, my God! This is unbelievable!" I think we all had that happily surprised reaction. It's a great experience to have after all. When people appreciate what you do and acknowledge and are happy and you give them joy and happiness, I mean I don't think there's anything better than that.

LH: This particular series has been a trend setting series in terms of the clothing in particular. How do you feel about the term fashion forward and these trends Sex and the City has set?

PF: I'm happy to say that Sex and the City empowered or helped women feel their power. I think that they celebrated that. That is the best thing that I could say was my experience what we did or achieved in that besides being entertaining and all the obvious. I think that, I am definitely, I am a powerful women. I want all the women to be powerful and whatever I could do to push that. I'm happy.

LH: Dressing for say...let's say film or even T.V, it's very different than say the retail section, the retail...You know dressing for regular people.

PF: I think when I first started doing film I was kind amazed, because this what I do all the time with customers. My customer comes into my shop, and they pick something up on her own and might say 'I like this. What does this go with?' I always say to all the people that work at my shop, 'You are all stylists. When customers come in, they look at you. You look good. That's immediately they are confident. Then when they can talk to you and you can produce. You're a stylist. So no, I don't think there's a difference. I think a shop is very good training for the other world. But the two worlds are very much the same.

LH: For people who can't afford to keep, to keep up with the fashion trends, what would you advise them to have or have not?

PF: Well taking you for an example, the answer almost comes right away to me. I mean whether you have money or you don't have money. You have that complexion and you wear that chartreuse and purple and it looks good on you, and that's what I was talking about personal style. You know the colors that work. Color doesn't cost a dime. I think sometimes we make more of it than it really is. I think if we stay really simple and calm down, we will see we that we can all look good and we don't have to take a mortgage out.

LH: Patricia, we are going to take a very, very short break. We will ask Patricia Field about growing up trendy in New York and the up and comers in the fashion world today. Stay with us.

Block B:

LH: Welcome back to Talk Asia. My guest is designer Patricia Field. Patricia, glamour is attached to your name now. But were you a very fashionable child?

PF: Thinking back, I guess I was a fashionable child. In my own way, I had my own style; I knew what I wanted to wear and wore it. I remember I having this Burberry coat that I would never take it off. I was twelve or something like that. (LH: Really?) And my mom was in the dry cleaning business, and so she took my trench coat to clean, and somehow the leather buttons, you know those little woven buttons, bled the dye onto the coat. And the coat came back, and my coat had all these spots on it. I was like, 'You ruined my coat!' And we had the biggest fight over this coat. 16:58:36

LH: When you were younger, I read, you had quite the lifestyle in you early teens clubbing and all the rest of it in Greenwich. Was that what your life was all about when you were a teenager?

PF: Yes, when I was a teenager, I was out there. I used to love jazz. I had a group of friends that were also, and we used to go to jazz clubs like the Village Vanguard and Bird Land. I mean I must have been 13. It was like Miles Davis and really famous jazz musicians who were famous at the time or became famous. When I had my own business, I was a 20 year old doing business. I didn't go out very much at all. I was building my business; I was focused on work. After I reached my 30s, I was like I have my own business I want to start going out and having fun again.

LH: Where did you get your first break?

PF: I had this job that I thought I could do it was a department store in New York called Alexander's. I stayed there for about a year and a half. I learned a lot about the retail clothing business, which I didn't know. Business I was always around as a child, but that particular I had to learn. And then I took another job for another year and a half, and then after three years I opened up my own store. A little shop, and it's... it's 40 years later!

LH: Now, that you are in business yourself do you consider yourself more of a fashion designer or business woman?

PF: I consider myself more of a business woman. But I get I don't really consider designer in the sense of designing fashion, not designing clothing. I do consider myself that. But in the beginning, I thought of myself as a business woman. 17:02:23 Somewhere along my life... Someone important said to me, 'You are an artist.' And I said, 'I am not an artist; I am a business woman." And so I never really had that consciousness. But as time goes on, I guess have some creativity.

LH: Your first store that was quite a concept, right? I mean night club by day!

PF: Well, I think that's store was definitely a party. But I think my whole circle of friends in my life... party is a very important factor period.17:03:06

LH: You've come a long way since the early days, but you continue to support up-and-coming designers. Why?

PF: For me personally, I'm very inspired the youth. I like being around the youth. Because young people have energy, young people have a life ahead of them, young people have an innocence. They do not have the burdens on their back yet, so they are freer. And it's much more joyful and optimistic!

LH: What does Asia represent to you in terms of style?

PF 17:05:23: Well my first, let's say, my first Asian experience in terms of style was mid 70s. And it was Issey Miyake, and I still to this day feel that is definitely a designer -- an original. What he created was totally his signature; it hadn't been done before. It's his; I totally respect him. We have Anna Sui, we have Vivienne Tam... There are others. We have... (LH: Kenzo. We have... ) Oh, yes! Kenzo, of course! I just think in general there are Asian designers. And of these Asian designers there are those that really made an original mark. They probably stand as an example for other Asian designers or other designers all over the world.

LH: Have any Asian races or cultures influences you at all in your work?

PF 17:07:23: Well, I would say yes. Because my culture, I come from right on the border. My father was born in Instanbul. So you know Instanbul is a city that's half Asia, half Europe and I have kind of a Middle Eastern cultural background. I feel that's a very strong component in my aesthetic. I'm often asked who is my style icon. My answer is Cleopatra. LH: Whoa! Well, let's face it. It's more than 2,000 years ago and we're still talking about her. There's a very strong visual of her.

LH: Patricia, as a designer, what's important to you when you design?

PF: It's collaging; it's telling a story. It's telling a point of view. That's what is important to me. To me, fashion is the cousin of painting or writing. That's what fashion is. The industry is a different thing, and I'm not against it. I'm just saying they have different definitions for me. True fashion is the art of telling a story just like a painter would.

LH: When you are just bumming around what do you like to wear?

PF: I like to wear jeans and t-shirts. I love to wear shorts and flip flops. I love to wear sweatshirts and sweat pants and tank tops just like everybody else.

LH: Patricia, we are going to take another very, very short break. When we come back, we will talk about to Patricia Field new projects including her work on the upcoming move, "The Devil Wears Prada."

Block C:

LH: Welcome back to Talk Asia. We are with designer Patricia Field. Patricia, a new movie coming out, I just mentioned that, "The Devil Wears Prada." What can we expect?

PF: Hopefully, we can expect Meryl Streep looking beautiful which was one of the most exciting parts of me doing this project. I felt this was my mission and hopefully we did it. We can expect to see some fashion montages and the inside of a magazine.

LH: Was it hard to get other designers involved?

PF 17:15:52: Well you know that it is a question I am asked very often because there was all this ruckus with Anna Wintour and so on. The answer basically is no. wasn't out to do Anna Wintour. For me, it was Meryl Streep; it wasn't doing Anna Wintour in Meryl Streep. I understood it, but it wasn't a problem. Anyway, bottom line, we had money to buy clothes -- you can go buy whatever you want if you chose to. So no, not really. But it was good fodder for gossip, it was great. And when there's a little gossip and.. It hypes up the movie. LH: It gets people remembering the name. Exactly!

LH: Looking forward to seeing it! Of all the high profile people you've dressed, anybody stand out?

PF: People that I've worked with? In general, I think that's one really good thing about my work. You meet lot's of interesting people which is great. Of course my relationship with Sarah Jessica Parker is very close and long term. So that stands out. Well, I feel that way about Kim Cattral as well. I mean just because our relationships went for so long. We became like family. Probably I think of them... LH: Is it easy to dress them? Immediately.

LH: Is it easy to dress them?

PF: Yes, it is easy to dress them.

LH: Versus somebody off the street?

PF: Well, of course it's easy to dress them because I know them. Somebody off the street when I get to know them it becomes the same.

LH: I presume there's not much of a difference PF: No. Try to dress somebody who's not fashionable, not a trend-setter and turning them into an icon, a fashion icon, is that difficult? How do you do that?

PF: Well that is an extreme, a fashion icon?that is like the top-of-the-top. If you take someone who is bottom-of-the-bottom, so to speak. Bottom to the top -- yes, that's probably difficult. But I think you can definitely improve someone's appearance for whatever need they have. For example if there's a female or male -- we'll just focus on females right now, but I love to dress men -- I mean for example, if there's a female who is a politician and this female could use a little outside help from an expert. I'm just saying it's not necessarily about making them a fashion icon. It's about just sort of centering yourself for who you are and making yourself stronger in whatever way you can.

LH: So any plans to mix fashion with politics then?

PF: Well, I'd like to somehow because you know I'm sitting here always wondering how I'm like going to bridge... how I'm going to get out of my fashion jail. Not that I don't appreciate it. I mean life is much more than fashion, and I have so many other interests. Because I've been known for my fashion, I'm now in the position to see the ladder to another area in life. I hope somebody calls me some day and asks for my services that is not necessarily an actress or whatever, maybe a female politician.

LH: Anyone in mind?

PF: Of course the most important female politician today is Hillary Clinton. I would like to is all. I think I could do a good job for her and respect her enough. And I think that, she looks fine, but she could look better.

LH When you wind down, what do you do? Party?

PF: Party. I like to read.

LH: And it keeps you young?

PF: I live in a world where most of the people I know are much younger than me. So I mean this is what my eyes see all the time, and that's my reference.

LH: What is next for you?

PF: I don't really... I just hope it's good. I don't know what it is. In the immediate furture, I will be working on a movie with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alec Baldwin, but in the broad out there what's going on in my future, I just hope it's as good as my past.

LH: Is there a look, Patricia for the year? Is there something that you see?

PF: his year, it's probably in general clean and slim and spare, because I think it reflects what we are all going through right now. LH: In terms of? In terms of our life experiences, of our cultural... of this time and this place. Fashion like any other form of art, I think is a reflection of the culture, of the time. If you are thinking about yourself in fashion and how you look, the best place to look is inside yourself. You know when you are happy, and I think looking outsidetoo can become a distraction.

LH: Patricia, thank you very, very much for your time. You've been watching Talk Asia and my guest has been designer Patricia Field. I'm Lorraine Hahn; let's talk again next week.

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