Patrick Kelly - Fashion designer who reclaimed the Blackface

Patrick Kelly - Fashion designer who reclaimed the Blackface

Patrick Kelly - Fashion designer who reclaimed the Blackface

This is Patrick Kelly. He was an African American fashion designer from Mississippi raised during the Jim Crow era. Initially struggling to find his footing within the fashion industry Kelly was granted a scholarship to the Parsons School of Art and Design only for the dean to revoke it after discovering Patrick Kelly wasn’t an Irishman. 
Patrick Kelly AND GIRLS

 

This led Kelly to make his own path raising his own funds attending parsons for one semester but subsequently dropping out due to financial reasons. After countless rejections from applied jobs within the industry Kelly started to get busy selling vintage Louis Vuitton luggage alongside his own fashion on the streets of New York. Due to the Lack of opportunity New York provided in 1979 he moved to Paris “the City of Lights” granting him the opportunity to compete. 

Patrick Kelly PARIS

 

He achieved critical acclaim from the early 80s until his death in Jan of 1990.

Dressing the likes of Iman, Naomi Campbell, Princess Diana, Madonna and Grace Jones. His designs included colourful buttons, bows, hearts, and stars as embellishments on tightly fitted solid coloured dresses of varying lengths. Taking ownership of racist iconography his work often included the incorporation of Golliwogs, watermelon, and bananas.

 

Patrick Kelly WATERMELON

 

He was the first American designer to be admitting in Chambre syndicale du prêt-à-porter des couturiers et des créateurs de mode with help from Sonia Rykiel, joining top fashion brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Christian Dior.

At his shows he believed in including models of all races to walk in and wear his designs. In 1987 he was interviewed by People magazine saying "I design for fat women, skinny women, all kinds of women. My message is, you're beautiful just the way you are."

 

Patrick Kelly frame Patrick Kelly bag

At his shows he believed in including models of all races to walk in and wear his designs. In 1987 he was interviewed by People magazine saying

"I design for fat women, skinny women, all kinds of women. My message is, you're beautiful just the way you are." 

Patrick Kelly black and white