Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New York Fashion Cool-Aid ®

Inside Patricia Field's New Art/Fashion Website Launch

Debi Mazar, Rick Poppel, Patricia Field
Click images for larger views

Cheer up downtown denizens and anyone else who likes one-of-a-kind wearable art! Although famed costume designer of iconic movies (The Devil Wears Prada) and TV shows (Sex and the City and my new fave Younger), Patricia Field recently shuttered her long standing retail store, all is not lost!

You can now find a curated version of her former store as an online art/fashion gallery (patriciafield.com) featuring made-to-order garments custom painted by several of her hand-picked artists. These include Scooter LaForge, Suzan Pitt, Jody Morlock, Iris Barbee Bonner, Thomas Knight, Suzanne Mallouk and Kyle Brincefield. Several of these artists already have a fan base of performers (as you will see below) and can be delivered worldwide.

Suzan Pitt Comic Coat

This past weekend I attended a short-lived exhibition of the Patricia Field Art/Fashion at Howl! Happening Gallery. This was really an exhibition within an exhibition as the Arturo Vega Project of Insults (and curses!) served as a perfect backdrop to the occasionally NSFW clothing.

Linda Fargo and Patricia Field

In contrast to the crowded scene of eccentric and colorfully dressed characters who swarmed the space on Thursday night's opening party (hosted by Mx Querrk the costumed character pig mascot, and sponsored by Perrier), I showed up on Friday morning as the weekend only exhibition opened to the public, to a totally quiet yet still dramatically colorful environment. Unlike the evening before there were no Younger actors such as Debi Mazar or Nico Tortorella, no fashion icons such as Linda Fargo, actually no people at all. What I did encounter, besides the lingering smell of weed, was the chance to float freely amongst the highly personalized garments, all the better to appreciate each one without distractions.

Pat Field has always turned to artists including those of past decades such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat who sold painted garments in her famous 8th Street shop. Now, she looks to the burgeoning talents of today with a who's-who of young creative visionaries. The 75-year-old legend feels that art and self expression in clothing is especially important lately as a response to the weariness of "fast fashion," mass production and homogenization. Items are available for both men and women or you can send the artist one of your own clothing items to customize.

Works of Scooter LaForge

Definitely the "ring leader" of the artists is Scooter LaForge who has been featured in T Magazine and Forbes, and has recently worked with Walter Van Beirendonck on a menswear collection collaboration as well as an installation of painted army clothes for VFiles.  Perhaps his biggest moment came when Beyonce ("pretty much the Holy Grail!" ) selected one of his army trench coats from some items that her stylists chose for her at Pat's store and wore it to a 2015 NBA All Stars game.  He got so many orders for that coat:  "I can draw that clown with my eyes closed now" he added. His aesthetic is very much  "clothes as canvas" and the idea that art should be accessible to everyone rather than the few who buy a piece of art for their wall.

Scooter LaForge Clown Jacket

Scooter loves cartoons (as do several of the other artists) and describes his work as "shocking, ugly, playful, and scary." He also finds clowns "kind of sexy" which should give you some idea of why he often features them in his work. LaForge embraces the idea of collage and will mostly use objects that have been found or given to him for his often multi-textural designs. He finds head-to-toe designer looks "boring" and encourages any owners of a $20,000 Birkin to individualize it by painting on it themselves!

Looks of Iris Barbee Bonner

It took me a minute to figure out why Iris Barbee Bonner's designs looked familiar to me. She was the designer responsible for the "graffiti" slut-shaming/feminist catsuit and dress worn by Amber Rose and Blac Chyna to the MTV Video Music Awards last year. Bonner's brand is known as These Pink Lips and while her aim is to promote the strength of women, she does it in a provocative way, hence the slogan "P***y Power." She also uses some rather suggestive fruit imagery, along with the tagline "It's Only A Banana." Ahem --enough said!

Back of  Women Comic Coat by Suzan Pitt

Also embracing cartoon imagery is Suzan Pitt who had some of the most striking and interesting designs on coats, trenches and denim jackets. Her paintings and animated films have been featured at MoMA, The Whitney Museum of American Art and many others. Her designs here include a "Big Flower Coat", a Tattoo Coat as well as the Comic coat. Pat recently outfitted actress Sutton Foster of Younger in one of her blouse designs which is featured on a poster for the show.

Jody Morlock Rhinestone Snake Painted Coat

I also really liked some of Jody Morlock's more colorful, geometric coats, dresses and suits. "It is a mashup of two ideas.  Take something old and make it new. Paint, stitch, knit, embellish and JUST PLAY," is her motto. All of her pieces are gathered through thrifting but whether name designer or not, she hopes the original designer "would be charmed with my collaboration and amused with the metamorphosis."

Works of Tom Knight

Tom Knight or Tom Tom was discovered by the buyer for Patricia Field's boutique who saw a friend wearing one of his creations.  She quickly ordered some custom pieces for the store which were snapped up by Lil' Kim, Amanda Lepore, Beyonce and Miley, to name a few. He collaborated with famed stylists B. Akerlund, Arianne Phillips and Nicola Formichetti and has been commissioned to make custom pieces for the tours of Madonna, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry.  His work has also appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine and on the runway for Mugler.

STUDMuffin Spiked Beanie Shorts and skull top backpack

Kyle Brincefield started a company called STUDmuffin NYC in 2010. He draws inspiration from Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Stephen Sprouse and Pat called him "one of her missing puzzle pieces" when she began carrying his line in 2012. He has a celebrity following including Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, Missy Elliott, Gigi Hadid, Emma Watson, Jena Malone, Carmen Electra, Adam Lambert and more as well and has been featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, GQ, i-D Magazine, Nylon Magazine, Paper Magazine and The New York Times Style section.

Works of Suzanne Mallouk

Suzanne Mallouk has a slightly different background than many artists. She is a psychiatrist, writer and artist whose most recent works feature black leather jackets with stenciled words on the back "meant to conjure up a cacophony of marching urban blackboards." She is the author of "Widow Basquiat" which chronicles her life as the artist's girlfiend in the East Village during the 1980s. Her work has been shown at the Patrick Fox Gallery of the Chelsea Hotel and is in various private collections including that of Trey Speegel, Patricia Field and Alda Balestra.

According to LaForge, this is Pat's core group of artists.  "Everyone has either worked at the store or knows Pat from the '80s.  That's the beauty of Pat Field," he told me in a phone conversation.  "She gives everyone opportunities and her loyalty".  As for the opening launch party that I missed, he describes it as "a point in time."


"It was like a color bomb exploded in the room which was full of people who express themselves with their clothes.  There were the people from Advanced Style along with the club kids."  Unsurprising when you take into account that Pat has been around as long as the boomers, yet is still very much relevant to a new generation of millennials.

Feeling inspired to take paintbrush to your apparel? You might want to tackle the canvas Keds before attacking the leather Kelly. Who knows? If you're any good, Pat may add you to a future roster of online artists.




- Laurel Marcus

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