It’s one of the most surreal experiences of my life: I’m perched on a leopardprint daybed in the sitting room of Patricia Field’s NoHo townhouse in Manhattan, her Siamese cat purring on my lap. I’m about to interview the iconic fashion stylist about feminine-hygiene products. That’s right: I’m going to talk periods with the sartorial force behind Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada. When Field joins me, her wild cranberry hair loose around her shoulders, she gives me the up-and-down. I’m wearing a gorgeous forestgreen jersey Greta Constantine number, but, standing next to Field’s silver silk tunic, studded biker boots and piles of jewellery, I feel like a square. “I love your cat,” I say, as her feline hops off my lap. “What’s her name?” Field gives me a long look and pauses. “Cat-ee,” she answers seriously.
As the creative ambassador for U by Kotex, Field recently designed a limited-edition series of carrying tins in her signature punk-glam style. She says that she took on the project to start a conversation about a topic that is often seen as taboo. “There’s a certain shyness about menstruation,” says Field. (I nod emphatically.) “But it’s a natural human function. And we should be able to talk about it in an adult way.” She lights a cigarette and leans forward. “Why do feminine-hygiene products have to be clinical?” she asks. She takes a deep drag and exhales slowly. “Anything you do in life, you should do with flair.”
Field’s home is a testament to this belief: The floors are sparkly green, and an enormous parakeet statue hangs from the ceiling of her split-level loft-style townhouse. There is a pastel Day-Glo space mural painted on one wall of the sitting room, complete with neon stars and planets on the ceiling. “Styling is like collaging,” Field says of her place. “You take what exists and throw it in the air and then pull it down and rearrange it.”
Field has been throwing fashion things in the air since she was gifted a cowgirl outfit by her parents at the age of six— complete with holster and boots—but she fell into styling almost by chance. It was Vogue editor Candy Pratts Price who persuaded her to direct the wardrobe on the ’80s flick Lady Beware. “I kept saying ‘I’m going to get money to do this?’” she says, laughing. “And I loved it, so I kept doing it.” It was a change for Field, who launched a boutique in Greenwich Village when she was 24.
Field insists that styling is all about the details, and it’s the details of her apartment that intrigue me. Like when I wander over to admire the numerous awards around her grand piano and find a trophy shaped like a phallus sitting among the Emmys and Costume Designers Guild awards. (A later Google search revealed it to be a Fleshbot award.) In a way, its presence seems fitting. It is definitely strange but also kind of awesome— just like Pat Field.
After 62 percent of women surveyed said that they felt uncomfortable discussing menstruation with friends and family, U by Kotex launched its Break the Cycle campaign to change the way we talk about periods. Kotex wants to remove the stigma around menstruation, so it has assembled an online team of experts to answer questions and dispel period myths. The Ban the Bland contest (banthebland.com) invites you to submit a maxipad or carrying-tin design online. Three lucky winners will be shuttled to New York during Fashion Week to design a product for Kotex and attend a runway show with Pat Field.
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's bi-weekly newsletter