Fashion loves to throw the superlative ‘legend’ about in connection with some of the people who work in it, but few live up to the hype. Stylist Patti Wilson, who will receive the Media Award in honor of Eugenia Sheppard at the CFDA Fashion Awards on Monday night, most definitely does. It’s a rare moment in the spotlight for Wilson, who has attained iconic status, but has preferred to stay under the radar: she’s the very definition of a low-key legend, someone who has always chosen to focus on creating groundbreaking work rather than her own public persona and profile.
Still, the names with whom Patti Wilson has collaborated over the years, bringing her fabulously twisted and arresting yet always inventive and original approach to styling and image-making, are pretty remarkable. They run from Stevens Klein and Meisel and David LaChapelle to newer talents like Ethan James Green, Campbell Addy, and Cruz Valdez, as well as a whole slew of designers she has championed.
Wilson took some time out from her beyond-busy schedule—what becomes a legend most, it seems, is their ability to work that bit harder than the rest of us mere mortals—to meet at the Odeon, in downtown New York, where we discussed her life and career a few days ahead of the CFDA Awards. Her achievements were well known to me, her personal story much less so. I first met Wilson over a decade ago through a mutual friend, Yana Kamps, the stylist who’s now having so much success with Paume Los Angeles, the vintage boutique and curation site she recently founded. As for Wilson’s success, her award is thoroughly deserved, if rather overdue. All I can add is come closer and listen up, kids: You’re about to hear from the real deal.
Patti, thank you for doing this. And I am going to jump right in. Who and what has inspired you in your career?
Honestly, I know many people have this answer but it is what gives each creative their unique perspective. I would have to say my upbringing is what has inspired me most in my career and styling aesthetic. I was brought up with the Catholic church being a big part of my life. The dramatic and ceremonial aspect of the clothing was always something I was drawn to. The ethereal imagery, accessories, and over-all design played a large part in it. The jewelry, the habits, the crosses, the tapestries, it was all so elaborately delicate and beautiful. Ultimately, that is where it all started for me. Otherwise, Cher has always been the most significant muse in my life. She is the epitome of maximalism and cool. And I was and still am inspired by the major Diana Ross fashion moments from the ’60s and ’70s.