", Fashion designer Patrick Kelly circa 1989 in Paris, France. Kelly was the toast of Paris when he arrived there in the late 80’s. The buttons gave the design a kind of riotous, black Southern femininity that became one of his lasting legacies. Kelly was an American designer of women’s clothing who, in 1988, was unprecedentedly welcomed into the highest level of Parisian fashion design–the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode–after showing only three collections there. In the 1950s, Grace often wore dresses that featured a fitted bodice, a nipped-in waist and a full skirt, a silhouette known as the “New Look” made famous by Christian Dior, one of Grace’s favorite designers. Sean kelly Studios. Photograph of Patrick Kelly by Oliviero Toscani. Racism is still rampant in the fashion industry. Kelly achieved this on the streets, nightclubs, and runways of New York, Paris, and beyond in the heady, inventive, and often-subversive urban milieu of … At the time, Amelan was working as an agent for fashion photographers. This art show presented by the Studio Museum in Harlem features none of Kelly's iconic dresses preferred by everyone from Pat Cleveland to Betty Davis. At the time, Paris was taken with the avant-garde fashions of Japanese designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo's Comme Des Garcons. While we have our Shayne Olivers and Virgil Ablohs of the world, their stories are few and far between. In 1972, when Kelly was 18 years old, he finally escaped small-town Mississippi and moved to Atlanta. By 1988, Kelly was the first American and black person to become a member of the august Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter, which governs the French ready-to-wear industry. ", "He told me he sold coats because women couldn't try on dresses in the street," Amelan said laughing. Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images. In Adams's reverential exhibition at the Countee Cullen Library based on the works of Kelly, the artist manages to capture the designer's spirit. The Studio Museum in Harlem presents Derrick Adams: Patrick Kelly, The Journey through October 20, 2017. sean kelly fashion series. Tradesy is trusted for new and preowned. By 1983, he was making a living selling coats outside of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés Abbey church on the Left Bank. The big mixed-media abstract collage hangs on the right side of the library featuring swatches of red, white, blue, and black paper and fabric. In the fashion realm, it was African-American designer Patrick Kelly (Sept. 24, 1954 – Jan. 1, 1990) who rose to prominence in the European locale in the 1980s. "Patrick Kelly," in Current Biography (New York), March 1990. He actively tried to reclaim racist iconography for black people. It alludes specifically to the battles Kelly—like many black designers working today—had to fight to establish himself in a white-dominated industry. "Patrick was very determined and a hard worker. He decorated dresses with … His work is very significant to 80s culture and how people were looking at identity and the surfacing of race, gender, and sexuality.". Kelly during his Paris years and took him from $700,000 in business to $7.5 million in 18 months, took Lars under her wing in February 1991 and placed his clothes in top stores within a week. According to Amelan, Angelou once told him that "poison no matter what kind of crystal bottle you wrap it in, it's still poison. Maya Angelou regretted Kelly's use of racist imagery throughout his collections. To put this honorary exhibition together, the 47-year-old artist spent the past year scouring the Patrick Kelly archive at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where he found things like birthday cards, sketches, old recordings of Kelly's runway shows, and a book proposal about Kelly's life written by his friend and the esteemed poet, Maya Angelou. And in the disquieting collage Mixed Patriotism, Adams glues together an abstracted blackface made out of a pattern for a shirt with a single blue sleeve embossed with the white stars of the American flag. View Full Details. His work was sold at luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. "One day, Patrick called me, saying he had found some cheap fabric at the Paris flea market, and I had to come at once," Amelan recalled. As the late Parisian designer Sonia Rykiel once remarked to Fashions of the Times, in an article I found looking through Kelly's archive, "The way he played with buttons is still being copied around the world.". In fact, he was just profiled in Women's Wear Daily. He met his soulmate, Bjorn Amelan, at a dinner party. By signing up to the VICE newsletter you agree to receive electronic communications from VICE that may sometimes include advertisements or sponsored content. "When buttons would go missing from Patrick's clothes, his grandmother, who worked as a maid for a white family, would sew new buttons of various colors, sizes, and shapes on them," Amelan explained. "New York would of not embraced him! From then on, I began to do more shows, and then I opened a company, Eyesight, and it grew from there. Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images, A model at the Patrick Kelly Spring 1989 show circa 1988 in Paris, France. This finally gave him the opportunity to compete, because as Talley explained to me, "Paris believed in full-on creativity. In a few short seasons, his clothes were not only being retailed Victoire, who discovered Thierry Mugler and Azzedine Alaia, but also in America. "Patrick was charismatic, and his dresses were elegant, colorful, and unpretentious," said Françoise Chassagnac, Victoire's buyer and fashion director. Kelly was raised in the deep South during Jim Crow. I am sorry to say! He debuted a women's ready-to-wear collection of tube cotton and jersey dresses in bright colors he had sewed by hand. The dazzling adornments on the dress became his signature and helped ensure Kelly's rise in Paris fashion. One dress he showed that night set Paris on fire. (Colloquially, "les tube," means "a hit" in French.) He also imbued his collections with the pain and struggle that he'd endured as a black man trying to survive in the world at large. They were seated next to each other. Photo by Pierre Vauthey/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images. The legendary African American fashion designer who dressed the likes of Iman, Naomi Campbell, Princess Diana, Madonna, and Grace Jones died of AIDS-related causes at the Hotel Dieu hospital in Paris in the care of his lover and business partner, Bjorn Amelan. "Patrick didn't have any money, so I bought the fabric for him.". Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images. His clothes were not meant to be untouchable, catwalk-only designs. He evoked the flare and sophistication of bygone eras in his totally trendsetting collections. As feminist icon Gloria Steinem said when she eulogized him, "He unified us with buttons and bows, tassels and fringe…". Patrick Kelly was a designer who enabled a fierce individuality." ", Within a year, Amelan and Kelly were partners in life and business. ... "When buttons would go missing from Patrick's clothes, his grandmother, who worked as … His partner, Bjorn Amelan, explained to me that Kelly was especially "marked" by the fact that all of his textbooks as a boy were hand-me-downs from white schools. Patrick Kelly Dressed Everyone From Princess Diana to Grace Jones in the '80s — and His Work Is Still Relevant Today ... "I was aware of who Patrick Kelly was as a designer …