Next May, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is going to present a retrospective of one of my favorite ’80s fashion designers: Patrick Kelly. I have a nice little Patrick Kelly collection:
- The notorious and frequently worn leopard gown (seen in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011).
- Bow dress (seen in 2009 and 2011).
- Black mullet dress (seen in 2011).
- Dice-button coat (seen in 2010).
- Musical-note blazer (seen in 2012).
Gorgeous museum exhibitions assistant Laura Camerlengo, who had noticed my fondness for Kelly, invited me to Philly for a preview of what’s to come next spring. I put on my bow dress and took the train to Philadelphia last Friday, accompanied by designing friend Stacy Lomman. I was amused to see a mullet-y version of my bow dress in the handout we got before a presentation on Kelly’s career.
The presentation included rare photos and videos and, let me tell you, the video of model Pat Cleveland dancing on the runway while dressed as Josephine Baker has to be seen to be believed. It was like one of those Family Guy moments when something that should be fleeting is dragged out forever and you think, “How long can this go on?” In other words, it was great!
After the presentation, we got to see several pieces from the retrospective. I posed with them.
Everyone was excited to see that Stacy and I were wearing Kelly creations. This amused us because Stacy was actually wearing her own Stacy Lomman label, accented with a big red Kelly button brooch that I had loaned her. Kelly was known for his use of buttons in his designs — there were plenty of examples of those in the photo/video presentation as well as one on display.
Stacy paired the button brooch with her own clothes so expertly that it looked like the ensemble had always been that way. Because there was a Kelly button on it, folks assumed the whole outfit was by Kelly. I thought that was fabulous.
You can see my dress better in this photo we took in front of the CandyCoated Wonderland exhibit in the museum — we weren’t able to use a flash by the Kelly clothes. The backdrop is by multimedia artist Candy Coated (nee Candy Depew).
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Patrick Kelly (Kelly’s Fall/Winter 1988 collection; acquired in 2009)
Purse: Prada (2007)
Boots: Prada (2008, previously seen here)
Belt: Calvin Klein (2009)
I’m definitely going back to Philly for the opening of the exhibit in April. The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Patrick Kelly retrospective is the new Met Gala. You read it here first! Of course, I’ll be wearing my leopard Kelly dress. And I’m going to try to coax Stacy to design an entire evening gown around that button brooch. I bet Patrick would have loved that. He sold some of his dresses with the buttons and bows packaged separately, allowing the customer to decorate the dress as she saw fit. It wasn’t all about individualism — Kelly worked in Paris and the customs duties were less onerous for unembellished clothes. Talented and thrifty, that Patrick Kelly!
Jet aka Punk Glam Queen says
What a great treat! He was taken far too young, such a sweetie. I still have to show you my little doll pin he gave me… I bought elastic thread to re-string her & have now misplaced all of it! XXX
Hi there! wow, how amazing you managed to go and preview the exhibition, that is so awesome and you and Stacy look gorgeous!xxx
I love how the bows on your dress create stripes of color when viewed from a distance. That’s some amazing detail, to have each little bow be multicolored and all lined up.
Louise, I completely agree! So much thought and planning even before the painstaking labor. Creares a beautiful effect though 🙂
He did such great work.
You two are, as always, adorable!
It’s such a shame he is gone 🙁 Brief career, but he made a huge impact. I remember him fondly. Glad I made the trip with you! Thanks! !
It was fun!
Loved Patrick Kelly’s work. 80s fashion had some superfun yet brilliant designers. Thank you for keeping his name out there and keeping his work out and about as well.
I covet his pieces and yet they make me smile at the same time. I am so going to that exhibit, dammit.
There was a gold button corset outline dress of his up on ebay recently. Still a perfect LBD + more.
Yeah, I’ve been checking out a couple of gold-button options,but I REALLY want the multi-color button version!