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Even without confessing to having a "punky sense of style," Patricia Field could hardly pretend to be conservative. Her getup for her meeting with the media and members of Israel's fashion and entertainment industries clearly indicated the personal taste of New York's high priestess of fashion, who did the styling for the six seasons of the controversial television series Sex and the City and for the haute couture movie The Devil Wore Prada.
The petite, titian-haired Field, on her first but brief visit to Israel as the guest of Ruthie Leviev-Eliazrov, general manager of the upscale Ramat Aviv Mall, wore a strawberry red T-shirt emblazoned with a pink Marilyn Monroe portrait, slim-fitting but not skinny cuffed jeans with crisscross loops in the back, a red snakeskin belt and green stiletto heeled sandals. The marquisette necklace set with tiny stones did not exactly jive with the wide gold bracelet and the large, dangling, black-turbaned, gold-plated Black Mammy earrings, but the overall combination made her stand out in the crowd.
Speaking from the stage of one of the mall's cinemas, Field said that her admiration for Meryl Streep was the reason she'd agreed to work on The Devil Wore Prada. Because Streep has the proven ability to play so many different kinds of characters, Field wanted her to look "really good" as the bitchy editor of a last-word fashion publication. She found Streep to be professional, calm and witty. "We hit it off straight away and it was great working with her."
A stylist, Field explained, does not tell the stars what to wear. It's a collaborative effort. "This job is a support job for actors. I don't say 'Here, you should wear this.' It's a process. I present a group of clothes and accessories to the actor, and together we build the outfit."
Sex and the City used to shoot two episodes at a time. Sarah Jessica Parker, who played Carrie, the uniquely fashionable prime character, would have up to a dozen costume changes in each episode. From eight or nine racks of clothing, Field and Parker worked together to build each outfit.
"It's never a situation of designing or creating for people without being close to them," explained Field, who finds challenges in each new production. "Film and TV are script driven. It's always a different script with new requirements. For me repetition is deadly."
Field's inspiration comes from the diversity of her native New York. "The vast variety of people and what they wear plays into my taste." Fashion has become much more "democratic" and "egalitarian" she said. "Everyone wears jeans and sneakers. Fashion doesn't come from the actual garment. It comes from the way you accessorize and put it together."
As for trends, Field's philosophy is that "anything that is universally wearable will become a universal trend, because it's a universal piece. When it becomes more edgy, it won't become a trend, because only a limited number of people can wear it or afford it."