Patricia Field is a busy woman. The designer, retailer and stylist recently moved her iconic Manhattan store into an expanded, wildly decorated multilevel space in Soho, and she also has started working on interior design projects for private clients.
Next, Field is headed back to “Project Runway” as a guest judge (she originally appeared on the show’s first season 10 years ago) when the new season kicks off on Lifetime next month.
Field recently spoke with Footwear News about shoes, the lasting impact of “Sex & the City” and what it takes to make it in the fashion biz.
1. Several designers have credited you with helping to launch their careers, and now you’re slated to be a guest judge on “Project Runway” for the second time. What’s the secret to spotting real potential?
PF: A lot of young kids come to the store and they bring their one-of-a-kind things. When unique things catch my eye, I put them in, but at the end of the day, I don’t know what makes for success. Talent is one of the things, but at the same time, business smarts is another ingredient. Another thing that makes for success is your ability to project to the world — it’s a PR kind of thing. Take The Blonds, for example. In the 1990s, they were bringing [into the store] these jeans that were full of seashells. I said, “What is this crazy stuff?” but they had their concept and they stayed with it.
2. What catches your eye in terms of footwear?
PF: I’m not big on details; I’m big on the broad strokes. If something jumps at me, I like it. It’s more like poster art — that’s kind of the style that [appeals to me]. The other part of it is narrative. When it is telling me a story, I get it.
3. Is there a particular shoe that has really resonated with you?
PF: When I found the [Extreme platform-style] gladiator sandal from Dior, I had never seen a shoe like that before, and I put it on Sarah Jessica Parker for the movie “Sex & the City.” It had all my ingredients: strong, sexy, statement. I bought the shoe for myself, and six months later I took my own pair and showed them to [Parker]. Then we looked all over for them because it was a late holiday item. Now we were doing this movie and it was July or something. We had to go to a discount mall upstate to find them, and we bought them all. That started the whole gladiator trend, and it is still going. I still wear the originals.