Wild and Woke are two words that come to mind when I think of the Legendary womenswear fashion designer, Patrick Kelly who nailed it when it came to keeping his crowd intrigued on the runway. Coming from a person who admires the fun in fashion, Patrick Kelly embodied mixing good vibes and spreading awareness through his garments.
Patrick Kelly was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on January 1, 1954. This man was always on the go, okay! He briefly attended Jackson State University before he began his journey as a legend in Atlanta, Georgia. While living in Black Hollywood, he worked at a thrift shop where he would take donated garments, customize them to his liking and sell them outside of a beauty salon! Yes! Talk about a natural born hustler. After taking suggestions from one of the legendary black supermodels, Pat Cleveland, he moved to New York City for a year and later relocated to Paris, France. Patrick Kelly definitely was a master of ‘taking a leap of faith.’
“He wanted to make wearable clothes that would make people happy, but at the same time, he subverted not only fashion but also stereotypes, particularly in regard to race. He played to such assumptions while undermining them. He kept people guessing.” – Stuart Brumfit, Dazed magazine
Unfortunately, Kelly passed away in 1990 after AIDS-related complications, but his ability to capture societal issues through clothing still exuberates today. In 1988, Kelly was inducted into the French ready-to-wear governing body, the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode for excellence and unforgettable aesthetic. At the end of his shows, he would spray paint a red heart on the runway and hand out “pickaninny dolls” to his audience.
Art is all about making a statement and should always have the capability to make you think about what we can change as a society.