We expect to see many things at Coachella — furry Davy Crockett hats, feathered headdresses and brooding hipsters, included. But one thing — nay, legend — that we did not expect to see at Friday’s MAC x Mia Moretti Coachella party in Palm Springs was costuming genius Patricia Field, who was chillin‘ poolside and mingling with the crowd.
For those unfamiliar, Field — who, with her blazing red hair, is also a downtown-New York boutique owner and style star in her own right — is the woman responsible for giving Carrie Bradshaw her sartorial soul, for which she won an Emmy. She was nominated for an Oscar for best costume design in 2007 for The Devil Wears Prada. And her latest project, Younger, just premiered on TV Land. So you can see why we were more interested in hearing what Field had to say rather than talking to the usual bevy of fashion bloggers eating shrimp toast in the buffet line.
We bothered the clothing connoisseur just as she seemed to be in the middle of noting style trends on her iPhone. She denied she was in work mode.
“I’m just here enjoying!” Field told us of her first trip to Coachella. “My friend who is a blogger is responsible for my being here. I thought it was about time.”
While Field, who attended this year’s fest with blogger Lara Eurdolian of Pretty Connected, wasn’t technically working, she was definitely using the weekend for subconscious research.
“Being in the middle of this energy is total inspiration.”
There’s no denying that the 74-year-old Field is a force to be reckoned with — and has more zest and energy than most style-world luminaries half her age. On Friday, she wore cutoff denim shorts, flip-flops, a T-shirt and a long, colorful cardigan. She also sported a rhinestone-encrusted bandana similar to the ones she put on Sarah Jessica Parker during the Sex and the City days (she also worked on both SATC films). Because Field always can be counted on to take a TV show’s costumes to a place where they, too, are a character (she’s also had costume-designer stints on Spin City, Ugly Betty and Hope & Faith), she was tapped to design the look for Younger, TV Land’s new comedy that stars Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff and Debi Mazar.
“I’m very excited about it,” said Field. “It seems like people like it. It’s got a great cast. And the stories and the writing is very good. The premise — when I first read the script, I was like, ‘How am I going to make a 40-year-old look like a 25-year-old? I’m a stylist, not a magician.’ When I met [Foster], she had this energy — young, wide-eyed. She sells it.”
The show tells the tale of a 40-year-old, newly single woman (Foster) who sends her daughter off to college and claims to be 26 to snag a good job. Madness ensues.
“She lives in Brooklyn, she lives at her girlfriend’s house. She’s broke because her husband stole their money. He left her. She’s got a daughter in college. She goes first through her daughter’s closet to see what she can find there. She goes to a vintage store and a thrift store. Maybe she goes to to H&M — whatever she can afford and put together. So that was my main approach to that character.”
Field also studied the word “hipster” when designing for the show.
“I said to my assistant — who’s 22 and lives in Bushwick — ‘Rosie, what the hell is a hipster?’ Because in my generation, hipster is kind of like beatnik-bohemian. I was a hipster. And she’s like, ‘You have the clothes you have, you put them together, and you make them look good, and you go out there, and you feel like you look good. That’s a hipster.’ So I said, ‘Thank you, Rosie.’ “
“I live in a world of young people. They work for me, they come into my shop. I’m lucky I stay with the young. I don’t do it for ulterior motives, I just feel better there. More energy.”
“For me, the word “costume designer” — there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s still attached to the traditional Hollywood thing. And the world has moved on. So, believe me, there are some famous costume designers, and there are many I admire today. But in general, it’s kind of a fuddy-duddy situation. So I’m like, I would rather be a stylist than a costume designer. I don’t make clothes. I could if I need to. But my style is collage and it’s contemporary, so I think of myself more as a stylist.”
For someone who has built her life and her work on being an original, she sure has chosen a popular job title.
“I’m glad I inspired a whole new career for the world.”