Patrick Kelly (1954-1990) was viewed as an extraordinary fashion designer, known for his signature mixture of fun and chic feminine fashion designs. He mixed classic design with fanciful embellishments to create collections both timeless and of their time. Patrick was born in Vicksburg, Missippi, though he began his career in fashion by opening a small boutique and street-sales business in Atlanta. His specialty was hand made, snug fitting designs primarily featuring buttons, his trademark embellishment. His first collection was shown in Paris in 1985, and he soon swept Paris, the Continent and the US. Within two years, his clientele included the likes of Madonna, Grace Jones, Jane Seymour, and Diana, Princess of Wales. He would also become the first and only American to be invited into the the tony Le Chambre Syndicale, the professional fashion institute whose exclusive membership includes the top 40 French fashion designers.
Patrick was also know for his warm, sunny and fun personality and his flare for designing and executing entertaining runway shows. He referred to himself as a “black, male Lucille Ball” because he loved to make people laugh. He also had flair. Time magazine (April 1989) reported on one of his early shows in Paris, held in the courtyard of the Louvre: “Across the cobblestones, as if for a medieval tournament, white tents opened their flaps to costumed crowds. Celebrities, fashion journalists and fashion retailers from Kansas City to Kuwait milled about. Suddenly, without fanfare, a man in cut-off overalls, a ponytail and phosphorescent orange high tops strolled onto an enclosed runway and slowly spray-painted a huge red heart on a white backdrop. With the exaggerated staginess of a Looney Tune, he turned to the audience, pressed a finger to his lips as if to say ‘Shhh!’ and tiptoed out. Only then did thumping rock music explode, spotlights ignite and towering models burst onto the runway in kaleidoscopic color.” That man was Patrick Kelly.
Style and substance, heart and soul, fun and flair – Patrick Kelly put all this into his fashions and his fashion shows.