After 50 years, famed fashionista Patricia Field closing Downtown store
BY TINA BENITZ-EVES | Patricia Field is in a good place. Decked out in purple-sparkled arm warmers, shiny pink lace-up loafers and half-fatigued pants and crowned by flaming red hair, the 73-year-old designer — known for dressing Carrie Bradshaw and crew in “Sex and the City” and the cast of “The Devil Wears Prada” as well as clothing rockers, actors, drag queens, writers, students, locals and everyone in between — will close her 4,000-square-foot shop at 306 Bowery by this March or April.
Field’s style is a punk rock orgy of shreds, leather, pleather, feathers and frills. But she is not being pushed out by extreme rent hikes. She’s closing shop because it’s time.
After years of ignoring offers to sell the building, which she owns, she finally yielded to pursue other projects in designing, branding, TV and film — including work on a script for Erica Jong’s 1973 novel “Fear of Flying” — selling her property to Thor Equities, which purchased the property for an undisclosed amount.
“It’s been 50 years, and here I am,” said Field. “I did it. I’m proud of it, and fortunately, I bought a good piece of real estate in the year 2000. Things have changed, but I’m still standing.”
In 1966, Field opened her first shop, on Washington Square East near her alma mater, New York University. A New York City native, Field started out with very little money but knew the shopping patterns around the university. Just five years later, she was able to expand to a larger space at 10 E. Eighth St. After more than 30 years at that location, she moved her business to the Bowery, first to No. 302, then expanding into No. 306, between Bleecker and Houston Sts.
She has won one Emmy Award for her work for “Sex and the City” and been nominated for four more.
Making fashion more accessible was always Field’s M.O.
“This place is my philosophy, that fashion should be accessible, positive and fun,” she said, during an interview in the shop earlier this week. “I like to entertain my customers. I consider my shop a fashion bazaar. It’s not a designer boutique. It’s not a collection boutique. When you walk in there’s always going to be some surprise.”
Field made it O.K. to crave fashion at any price, whether it was something tripped out by Tripp, dazzling Dior or something for $10.
“I always felt that my eye has to see it and like it, and I have to feel like it’s worth the money,” she said of her store’s mix of new, funky and vintage garb. “So I created this bazaar based on what I love. Fashion is a fun, creative medium, and that’s how I always looked at it, personally. I’m glad I could make a career out of it, and sometime during the development, establish a brand out of it.”
Blondie’s Debbie Harry, a longtime fan and friend of Field’s, will miss having around the fashion refuge, which was often likened to Trash & Vaudeville and other specialty clothing shops long gone.
“Her story, style and shop will be a huge loss to New York City, and sadly missed by many people,” Harry told The Villager.
For her part, what Field will miss most is the customers.
“I will miss most people coming in telling me how much they love being in the store, that it’s so unique and it’s so much fun and they come in here to get happy,” said Field, who hopes to throw a big party before her store closes for good. “That’s a wonderful thing for me to hear.
“I’ll continue my outside projects that don’t require me 24/7. And when it’s over, it’s done — there’s a beginning and an end,” she said. “It’s not like that in retail. After 50 years, I feel like it’s time.”