Costume designer and fashion icon Patricia Field is best known for, among other accomplishments, her work on the television show Sex and the City. For decades, Field also operated a boutique in Greenwich Village that became a fashion mecca, and font of downtown energy and creativity.
After graduating from New York University in 1963, Field began her career in fashion working as an assistant buyer for department stores. In 1966, at 24 years old, she opened her first store, Pants Pub, located in a 30-by-12 foot space on Washington Place in Greenwich Village. Field opened the store using a $4,000 inheritance she had received from her late father, as well as an investment from her then-business and -romantic partner Joanne Salvucci. While Salvucci spent most of her time in the store, Field also helped design sportswear in the garment industry.
Pants Pub was a success and quickly outgrew its small Washington Place Storefront. In 1971, the business moved to a much larger space at 10 East 8th Street, with a new name; Patricia Field. In this new location, the store became a fashion destination, selling colorful, cutting-edge fashion to people of all ages and backgrounds. The store was a hangout for LGBTQ youth, whom she also commonly employed in the store.
The store attracted celebrity clientele starting in the late 1970s, when poet-turned-rock musician Patti Smith stumbled into the 8th street location. Living nearby, Smith became a regular customer, often wearing pieces from the store in her concerts. Other celebrities would soon follow, including Madonna, who became one of Field’s regular clients.
The store gained further notoriety for helping put together looks for Studio 54 club-goers, of which Field herself was one of. As a pioneer of the disco fashion scene and a regular club goer, Field quickly became friends with other Studio 54 regulars, including fashion designer Halston and Andy Warhol.
The great downtown artists of the day also frequented the 8th street store, including Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. They painted murals inside the store, and Basquiat, when he was still known by his graffiti tag SAMO, painted on jumpsuits made out of tyvek. With Basquiat’s talent, and Field’s support, a construction grade material was turned into a groundbreaking fashion piece.
Patricia Field’s first work in film as a costume designer came in 1987, for the movie “Lady Beware” starring Diane Lane. Field continued her work in film and TV, and in 1995 sheoutfitted the movie Miami Rhapsody, which is where she first met Sarah Jessica Parker. Three years later, the pair further collaborated on the show Sex and the City. Field was the show’s costume designer, for which she won an Emmy. The looks she created for the show have since come to define fashion worldwide, an influence still felt more than 25 years after the show’s initial premiere. And while Field did not return for the show’s recent reboot, And Just Like That, when Kim Cattrall returned for a cameo of her beloved character Samantha Jones, Cattrall insisted that Field be the one to dress her.
The show’s popularity made Field’s 8th Street location more successful than ever. Droves of people would flock to the store, hoping to purchase items akin to those worn by Carrie Bradshaw. But despite these major successes, Field was forced to close her 8th street store in 2002, due to an outrageous rent increase from her landlord, NYU.
While the 8th street store closed, Field continued to operate another store, called “Hotel Venus” at 382 West Broadway in SoHo that had opened in 1997. Field closed the SoHo store in 2006, moving the store to a larger location at 302 Bowery. The store moved again in 2012, just a few doors down to 306 Bowery. This location closed in 2015, after Field decided it was time to work on other things. Recently, she opened another store called ArtFashion Gallery at 200 East Broadway on the Lower East side. This one operates like an art gallery meets boutique, specializing in one of a kind pieces from a group of artists chosen by Field.
Since beginning her career in the 1960s, Patricia Field has left an undeniable mark on the fashion world. In addition to her costume design for Sex and the City, she has continued her work in television and movies, including as the costume designer on TV show Ugly Betty, and for the movie The Devil Wears Prada. More recently, she worked on the first two seasons of the television series Emily in Paris. Her influence is remarkable, and something we can thank her original 8th street location for, as it brought her impeccable talent to the streets of Downtown Manhattan, New York City’s ultimate runway.