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Patricia Field

by Judit Kawaguchi

Patricia Field, whose boutique in New York City has been an inspiration for designers since opening in 1966, achieved worldwide fame dressing the characters for the HBO TV series “Sex and the City” and for the 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada.” The 65-year-old Field is an Academy Award-nominated, two-time Emmy Award-winning costume designer and stylist whose love of the Japanese aesthetic, attention to detail and fashion sense has been bringing her to Tokyo since the 1980s. She was recently in Japan to promote a collaboration with hair stylist Orlando Pita and J-pop superstar Namie Amuro on Vidal Sassoon Japan’s “Fashion, Music, Vidal Sassoon” campaign. Always relaxed, Field prefers wearing jeans and just about anything from Shibuya’s 109 department store, a version of which she dreams of opening in New York.

Great style is an integration of many different things. When your clothing, personality, sexiness and other interesting attributes all come together, then you have style.

If the copy is better than the original, buy the copy! Take any brand: In the same way thatceveryone copies somebody else, brands copy others, too. For example: There are two famous designers who have a similar aesthetic to me — we love each others’ works. When they started, they came to my store and bought all my girdle clothes — dresses made out of girdles, bustiers, everything — and made them into their own line. So if I made a collection based on girdles now, people would say I copied them. I don’t mind — I move on ’cause I don’t want to just sit there and be miserable.

Why would you wear one brand? What are you, a robot? Mixing fashions is normal — wearing one designer from head to toe is not.

Work from the truth. I dress characters. For example, I am doing a show in New York with the actress Lucy Liu, who plays a career woman who makes big money. We thought about who she was, how she would dress. Now, in real life Lucy Liu is just a Taiwanese girl from Queens, New York — an urban Taiwanese princess! So that became the concept for her character’s looks. She got it and loved it as that is the truth about her.

I don’t need a fancy fashion spread: I just want to see the clothes! I don’t need to see a girl in a forest in a dress, that’s boring. But that’s how fashion magazines are in Europe and in the U.S., while Japanese fashion magazines are fun and dense with information.

Honesty keeps you happy. There is no stress when you are honest — stress comes from being dishonest. It is like healthy Japanese food and unhealthy American food: It is better for you to eat Japanese food as it puts no strain on your body. I’m OK ’cause I grew up on Mediterranean food: lots of veggies, protein — all fresh, no sugar.

My motto: Enjoy yourself and do exactly what you wanna do. Work? You have to enjoy it. Don’t let anything bring you down, because it’s just a waste of time.

In Japan everything is exaggerated. They have dog bakeries, and in Yokohama’s Chinatown I saw people with their pets in strollers. That was sick — when you have a baby, the reason you have a carriage is because the baby can’t walk, but here dogs are in carriages. That one really pushed me.

Because animals are spontaneous and honest, they have a lot to teach humans. I am an animal, you are an animal and even if we are not the same species, it does not mean we can’t learn from each other.

Copies can give you great ideas. In the ’80s this kid came into my store with a baseball cap with the Chanel logo. He made a dozen, and I bought them. A few models lived next to my shop, and one bought one of the hats and showed it to Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel. Chanel sent me letters complaining, but I think it gave Lagerfeld a major idea for taking Chanel into custom accessories. If I see a good idea anywhere, I do the same thing and isolate it so I can apply it where I want it.

Don’t let the formula blow your mind; just understand the point. My encounter with Socrates enabled me to think in a philosophical way. His simplicity was the first attraction, because when things are simple, you can keep them straight.

I am proud when kids say I inspired them. They tell me all the time so I feel happy. It is fun to give, and more rewarding than receiving.

The acceptance that one is wonderful is the most precious gift. Grandma taught me that I was great. My confidence comes from that, so I never question myself.

Each age has a different character, and success and freedom comes with time.I took myself the most seriously in my 20s: I had a mission to achieve a certain level for myself in many areas. And then in my 30s, I felt I was on the right road, so I let loose. Success was a personal feeling, a sense of security that I had a design for my life, and it looked like the future would be OK.

A partner must have intelligence and outgoing energy. I like socially energetic people. Good looks, bad looks, they don’t really swing it — it’s the inside that matters.

I wanna live till I die. In my 20s I could stay awake for three days and have a normal life. I can’t do that now, but other than that, my experiences are the same. Curiously, I’m rarely with people of my age because they seem like aliens from another planet. I prefer people between 20 and 45.

Keep it simple and then it will be cute, too. The only thing I don’t wanna do is get into something too deep that is gonna keep me tied up. I wanna keep it to all “hello and good bye” only so I can experience more.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK’s “Out & About.” Learn more at: juditfan.blog58.fc2.com/