Patricia Field has just embarked on what seems to be an unlikely collaboration – she’s become a spokesperson for Lenor. The fabric softener. However, as the woman who revolutionised styling on TV, she could be selling hot dogs on Oxford Street and Grazia Daily would queue up to meet her, so of course we jumped at the chance to have breakfast with Miss Field when she was in town last month.
Field is almost 70, but looks much younger, a combination of great skin, a magnificent, if improbable mane of scarlet hair and the fact that she behaves like an excited girl of 27. The voice, though, is a brilliantly deep New York rasp where ‘God’ becomes ‘Go-ad’ – it’s the voice of an aged Manhattan dry cleaner, which is apt considering she’s in London hawking a range of fabric softener designed to encourage us to reinvigorate our wardrobes.
In fact, the link between Field and the aforementioned brand of laundry conditioner might seem tenuous, but is in fact twofold – firstly, there’s the voice, and second ‘my parents were dry cleaners’ she says. ‘So when Lenor approached me, I was like – ok I’m perfect for this, because that’s where I learned about fabrics’. Even now as (surely) a gazillionaire, Field always does her own washing. ‘Someone comes in to clean my house’ she says, ‘but my laundry is my own. It’s my own personal world.’
Of course, what we all really want to know is less about Field’s laundry habits and more about her incredible career. As the woman who basically made Manolo Blahnik a household make through the SATC franchise, what’s the goss on the behind the scenes drama? ‘I had worked with Sarah Jessica Parker before, on a movie called Miami Rhapsody, so we knew one another… The other girls I didn’t know, and they didn’t know me, but because of Sarah Jessica, and our relationship… I opened up to their ideas, they opened up to my ideas. It becomes a relationship… with a reality and a trust that builds on both sides.’ As to whether she preferred working on the films or TV series, Field is diplomatic, saying that ‘one of the things about a series, because it repeats… it becomes like family’.
‘Sarah Jessica Parker – she’s a little fashion girl, she wants to dress up, and she transforms into like a Barbie doll… So from that point of view it was very fun, because she’s very responsive. And on my end it was fun, not only creatively but because she can make anything look gorgeous, because she has grace and she moves around and she has fun while she’s doing it, so people love to watch her’.
Aside from the SATC girls, who’s style now does she really rate? The answer, for those of us expecting a diplomatic response like SJP or a populist one like Lady Gaga, is surprising. ‘The one that I really love is Victoria Beckham. Because she has a signature style that’s defined – she sticks to it – she’s got her look’.
Silence. So she continues ‘I think style is about that – an expression of who you are – and it has to be original’ Acknowledging that it’s not just Victoria’s wardrobe she admires, she continues ‘money can’t buy it! You know – money can help, but you can walk into any [branch] of Chanel, or Dior, or any of the highest things and walk out and not look like anything – style comes from another place, and it’s not the wallet’. ‘Unless you want to hire me for a lot of money.’
These days, Field is working on a number of new projects – there’s the Lenor project, of course, and she’s also helping to renovate a house for a friend ‘well – her husband bought her me as a present’. And what about the possibility of being involved in another piece of the SATC pie - the answer was yes, of course. Though she adds, half-jokingly as we leave that she has her sights set higher than costume. ‘This time’ she says, ‘I want to direct!’
Something tells us that if Patricia Field wants to direct, there’s nobody going to stop her.
- Alex Butt
Check out Patricia's styling tips above! Lenor Infusions presents Patricia Field’s 7 tips to awaken your wardrobe. Awaken those sleeping beauties in the back of your closet, and win a wardrobe makeover. Go to www.awakenyourwardrobe.com to view Patricia’s video tips and for full competition details.