When I found out I’d be attending New York Fashion Week for the first time, I felt an equal mix of excitement and terror. Sure, being invited to the shows is glamorous and exciting—but it’s also downright intimidating. On the eve of my first venture into the Manhattan tents, I sat down with fashion icon and former Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field, who shared her rules for staying happy (and sane!) in a world of statuesque models, street-style photogs and international editors in skyscraper stilettos.
Pat Field’s rule: Be confident. “As a stylist, my job is to help performers realize their characters and make them feel confident. You can’t have women going in front of the camera and thinking they don’t look nice; they won’t function well.”
My Fashion Week road test: Confession time: I hate cameras. So when I exit the Lincoln Center before the Jill Stuart show and accidentally find myself in the middle of a paparazzi frenzy caused by Kris Humphries (a.k.a. the former Mr. Kardashian) and Scott Disick, I nearly have a heart attack. “Move out of the shot, lady!” one of the photogs bellows at me. I feel a sudden sympathy for anyone who has to deal with TMZ on a day-to-day basis and realize why stylists are so crucial: After all, you can’t put a price on confidence.
Rating: 3/5 stilettos
Pat Field’s rule: Your happiness level makes a difference. “I think that whatever goes on inside a person translates in their work. Look at Betsey Johnson. She is one of the happiest, most energetic people I know, and her clothing line reflects this.”
My Fashion Week road test: First things first: The Jeffrey Campbell peep-toe wedges strapped to my feet have got to go. I ditch the punishing footwear for sensible flats before the Thakoon show and I’m rewarded with a surge of energy. Suddenly, instead of worrying about how I’m going to get back and forth from The Plaza’s Grand Ballroom to the Lincoln Center, I’m able to concentrate on the most minute details of Thakoon’s stunning East meets Wild Wild West collection. Even my tweets are starting to sound more optimistic. Field might be on to something…
Rating: 5/5 stilettos
Read more of Pat Field’s wisdom on the next page…
Pat Field’s rule: Do what you love. “If you love what you do, you will be good at it because it’s already part of your fibre. Go from your heart and have confidence.”
My Fashion Week road test: One of my favourite parts of New York Fashion Week? Guerrilla-style celebrity interviews. While waiting for the Abbey Dawn show to start, I spot Avril Lavigne and her assistant a few feet away. “Can I ask you a few questions for ELLE Canada?” I ask. She cringes. “I’m doing press later,” she responds flatly. Denied! Sadly, Field’s optimistic advice is no match for Lavigne’s bad attitude. Later, I catch up with Selma Blair before the J. Mendel show. The actress tells me that her favourite spring trends are fluoro pants and techno prints. “Can you imagine me in that?” she says with a laugh before answering her own question. “Probably not. But I can appreciate it on other people!”
Rating: 2/5 stilettos
Pat Field’s rule: Just make it work. “I was interested in working with Kotex on their ‘Ban the Bland’ design contest because I felt that it’s a test of creativity, and people should always test themselves. Designing feminine products in a way that isn’t clinical is a challenge.”
My Fashion Week road test: I watch Field work with the three contest winners, who are set up at workstations to create carrying tins that will inspire new U by Kotex designs. The group seems genuinely inspired as Field makes the rounds, offering encouraging words and cracking jokes. Admittedly, I was originally skeptical about the design challenge: Why would anyone want to draw attention to their feminine products? But after spending the afternoon with Field and the contest winners, I suddenly understand that true creativity has the power to make you see something—even if it’s a little strange—in a new light.
Rating: 5/5 stilettos
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.