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13 February 2011

Favored Opinions: fashion designer Patrick Kelly

As we are deep into Black History Month I would like to introduce a designer that is not very well know to my generation of fashionista. Patrick Kelly was as innovative as he was an impactful designer. Kelly studied Art and Black History at Jackson State University before attending Parsons School of Design. He designed for a Rive Gauche boutique and Benetton before becoming one of the most well-known designers in Paris. In Paris, during the mid- to late 1980s that Kelly found his greatest success. He began by selling dresses on the street and working as a costumer for the nightclub Le Palais. He gained prestige and began showing his collections alongside Sonia Rykiel and Yves Saint Laurent. Well-known stores as Henri Bendel, Bloomingdale's, and Bergdorf Goodman carried his Paris designs, and celebrities Cicely Tyson, Bette Davis, Grace Jones, and Isabella Rosellini were among his diverse clients. Kelly made history by becoming the first American designer ever to be elected to the Chambre Syndicale, France’s prestigious organization of designers. There is a beautiful narrative commemorating Kelly at The Times Magazine website.

Kelly died of Aids on January 1, 1990. His work was put on display, shown above, in Brooklyn’s Museum of Art in September 2004. Oh how I wish I was aware of his work then as I would have made my way to the exhibit, doesn't matter that I would have been 14. His work is iconic and, I feel, has been lost. Kelly's designs remain important to me as a fan of fashion and as a burgeoning fashion historian. Also! I am begining my independent study of African American's in Paris and Kelly remains one of the only African American designers to reach maximum success as a designer in Paris, France.

What do you think of using possibly controversial icons in fashion or art?

Life is beautiful, let's share a little. 

Joy D.

1 comment(s):

WendyB said...

I love his work...I've got some more pix here if you want to grab any

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