Thursday, February 6, 2014

Just in: When Clothes Made You Smile: Patrick Kelly

When I think of fashion in the 1980s, I think of a riot of color and extravagance.

Patrick Kelly (1954-1990), the Mississippi born designer, celebrated joy, whimsy and color in his body conscious clothing.  He also celebrated his African-American heritage in a way, frankly, I am not sure would be accepted now: he was never without plastic black baby doll pins which he freely gave out, his shopping bags proudly featured a "golliwogg" and "Aunt Jemima" bandana dresses shown with watermelon hats.  Kelly himself wore dungaree overalls and after each runway show, would spray paint a large heart on the runway. 

I was so happy to learn that the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be celebrating Patrick Kelly this April in an exhibit titled Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love

Patrick Kelly grew up looking through issues of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar his grandmother brought home from the family for whom she worked.  He remembered his grandmother "being the chicest woman alive".  He knew he wanted to design clothes and he remembered "there were never any black people in the magazines."  Kelly went on to frequently use African-American models and isn't it incredible that 30 or so years later there is still the debate about the lack of color on the runways and in many fashion magazines.

Kelly is famous for his whimsical and colorful button dresses which were worn surprisingly enough by the actress Betty Davis when she was in her late 70s.

Bette looking bitchy chic in Patrick Kelly's buttons:

Kelly moved to Paris in 1979 and became the first American designer to be invited to join the Chambre Syndicale du Pret-a-Porter des Courtiers et des Createurs de Mode.  Kelly said that "being from Mississippi makes me very special over here (Paris).  They think I've fallen from another planet."

"With other designers you can get clothes that are chic and masculine or hard and way out.  Mine are happy."
Patrick Kelly

and right now at RARE vintage we just received a really wonderful and iconic Patrick Kelly 'dice' jacket and it does indeed make me very happy.  

1988 Patrick Kelly 'dice' jacket.  Sz 38.  Available for purchase at RARE vintage


silk 'dice' lining:

We also have a pair of the original plastic black baby doll pins that Patrick Kelly loved to give out:

Pair of original 1980s Patrick Kelly plastic black baby doll pins available for purchase at RARE vintage.
And we have one pair of Patrick black knit jersey gauntlet gloves embellished with nails:

1980s Patrick Kelly gauntlet gloves embellished with nails.  Available for purchase at RARE vintage.

and we also have : )) a Patrick Kelly iconic black knit jersey dress with brass buttons:

1980s Patrick Kelly brass button dress.  Sz M.  Available for purchase at RARE vintage.
Patrick Kelly back in the day...

from the 2004 retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum:

and a preview from the upcoming exhibit Patrick Kelly: Runway to Love at The Philadelphia Museum of Art:

love, kisses and vintage, Juliana

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