Patricia Field on Creating Iconic Looks on “Emily in Paris” and “Sex and the City”
Icon is a word that gets thrown around casually. However, in the case of Patricia Field, the award-winning, legendary costume designer – behind the clothes for “Sex and the City,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Ugly Betty,” “Emily in Paris,” and countless more – the term somehow only scratches the surface. In her new documentary, “Happy Clothes: A Film About Patricia Field,” which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival, you’ll get a glimpse inside the creative process and incredible life and career of a visionary who, at age 81, isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Directed by Michael Selditch, the documentary includes interviews from actors Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Lily Collins as well as commentary from directors Darren Star and David Frankel.
Alongside glimpses of her life and wildly successful career, “Happy Clothes” also brings us inside her infamous downtown boutique and the colorful cast of characters it housed. Having been a New York fixture since the 1960s, the store was a mecca for club kids, fashion outcasts, and drag queens, many of whom are now celebrated designers, musicians, and artists. “Both Keith [Haring] and Jean-Michel [Basquiat] were part of the young people who visited my store on a regular basis,” Field tells POPSUGAR casually. “I met them when they came into my store on 8th Street.”
While you can expect a lot of star-studded flashbacks, the documentary was mostly filmed in 2022 when Patricia was balancing wrapping up season two of “Emily in Paris,” actively on set for “Run the World,” running her ArtFashion Gallery, and working on her autobiography, “Pat in the City.” She opened up about her creative process with actors on set, saying: “Establishing a relationship with the actor is extremely important because the actor at the end needs to trust you. They’re not models going down the runway. They’re portraying scenes and lifestyles. And I love the process of supporting the actor and giving the actor what I have to offer but always [having] the actor in mind.”
Almost a decade ago, I met Field during an advanced screening of “The Other Woman,” an encounter that opened the door to one of the most meaningful and special friendships of my life. Years later, I planned her 80th birthday, which – in a full-circle moment – is forever immortalized in this film. Ahead of the “Happy Clothes” release, I sat down with Field, as well as Selditch and associate producer Erica Guzman, for an intimate chat. Keep reading for Field’s thoughts on everything from working on “Sex and the City” to ageism to her love for New York City.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.