If New York City was the fifth lady in HBO's Sex and the City, Emmy-winning costume designer Patricia Field was the stylish sixth. A flame-haired force of the fashion world since she opened her first eponymous Manhattan boutique in 1966, Field has also dressed up the Sex and the City movie, ABC's Ugly Betty, andThe Devil Wears Prada, for which she was Oscar-nominated. Her latest film, Confessions of a Shopaholic, is available June 23 on DVD. Field, who happens to be a lesbian ("I don't feel a rub about my sexuality," she told The Advocate in 2006), explains how she handles criticism from other "wacky" women.
By Brandon Voss
Advocate.com: On the style spectrum, is Shopaholic's Rebecca Bloomwood closer to Carrie Bradshaw or Betty Suarez?
Patricia Field: Carrie's blatantly more mature. When the show started, she was much younger and not as mature, but she was still a little more sophisticated than Rebecca. I don't see Rebecca as Ugly Betty other than the fact that they're both bolder in their use of color. I found a lot of Rebecca's outfits in Tokyo because they have a wider selection of younger, more colorful fashions. It's much harder to find a yellow coat here than it is over there.
Which celebrities would you like to dress that you haven't had the chance to yet?
I don't think about it that way, because I don't dress celebrities; I dress characters.
Do negative critiques in the press ever make you reevaluate your design decisions?
I don't really get that much criticism. I'm trying to remember what it was, but once I read something weird, and my reaction was, "Oh, they missed the point." If the criticism is valid, I'm very happy to hear it. I don't have a problem with it.
Those turquoise feathers on Carrie's head in the Sex and the City movie come to mind as a polarizing choice.
The bird hat? Oh, yeah. Well, when it came to that whole wedding outfit, I would say that it was a bit out of my hands. There were many people involved in that decision-making process, so I think I probably reached the point of "whatever."
Speaking of that wedding dress, how did you react to designer Vivienne Westwood's infamous critique of the movie?
Tell me what she said again. I never read it; someone told me about it. Will you read it to me?
With pleasure. She said, "I thought Sex and the City was supposed to be about cutting-edge fashion and there was nothing remotely memorable or interesting about what I saw. I went to the premiere and left after 10 minutes."
Yeah, that's what I heard. I met her outside on the red carpet and she told me that she doesn't have a TV and she's never seen Sex and the City in her life. So when I heard what she said, I was like, "Well, I'd expect you to say something like that." But I felt it was too bad she walked out in 10 minutes because all of her fashions were in the movie, so at least she could've enjoyed that. She missed her own fashion show! I've known Vivienne for years, and she's as wacky as a fruitcake. I mean, she's great, I love her designs, and I respect her work, but it's hard for me to follow her mind-process. I got a note from her recently saying she would like to have tea with me, and I was like, "That's crazy, because I heard that she walked out of the movie after 10 minutes." But sure, I'll have tea with you if you want to have tea, wacky girl.
Maybe she wants to apologize over tea.
Oh, well, that's an interesting thought. Well, we'll see.
Have you been contacted yet about doing the costume design for the Sex and the City sequel?
Yes, I have been contacted, but I haven't seen the script yet. Of course I would like to do it, but I have to make sense of it. So before I commit to it, I have to see a script.
Advocate.com, June 2009.