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In the decade since she first slipped a pair of Manolos on Sarah Jessica Parker’s feet for “Sex and the City,” Patricia Field has become a fairy godmother for many a project in need of some high fashion wizardry. But the woman responsible for styling New York-based TV shows like “Cashmere Mafia” and “Ugly Betty,” and films like 2006’s “The Devil Wears Prada,” has left the concrete jungle behind for her latest gig, “Kath & Kim,” which premieres Thursday on NBC.
“It takes place in the middle of nowhere Florida, where the land is cheap and they build those developments,” Field says of the comedy, in which Molly Shannon and Selma Blair star as the title characters, a mother and grown daughter living unhappily under one roof. “[The style is] Florida blue-collar mall.”
Accordingly, Field scoured the Newport Mall in Hoboken, N.J., and Los Angeles’ knock-off haven Santee Alley for separates like DayGlo overalls, spandex jumpsuits and rainbow tube tops to would blend in with the Floridian palette. “If Gucci were to make a loafer in brown, black and pistachio, for sure you’re going to find the pistachio in Florida. You’d only find the brown and black in New York,” explains the Manhattanite, who also owns a home in Miami’s South Beach.
But location wasn’t Field’s only consideration when putting together looks for the series. “The joke [of the show] is that the mom has got a life and the daughter is miserable,” explains Field. “The comedy is in that irony.” To that end, Field put the older Shannon in “tight jeans, low cut tops — she’s dressing a little sexy,” while she outfitted Blair in more basic T-shirts and shorts, save for the occasional slogan T. “But nothing too fashion-y, because that will blow it. She has to stay trailer,” she says.
Not that Field’s work is meant to be completely believable, either. “I don’t do reality. I do hyper-reality. It’s reality on its toes, it’s elevated, it’s popped, it’s invigorated, it’s Technicolorized,” she says. “I think at this time that we’re in, people are drawn to a little escapism.”
And Field claims she doesn’t long for the couture she has called in for other shows. “My life isn’t just Madison Avenue and 57th Street. It includes it, but there’s a spectrum,” insists the Queens, N.Y., native. “For me, the most fun is to create the character. That could mean Dior, it could mean vintage, it could mean suburban mall. Whatever it takes.”
Indeed, Field lives by this maxim. “I try to take as much work as I can physically take, sometimes to a point where I overload myself,” says the designer, who also styled the forthcoming film “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” maintains her cult store in New York City and just launched a clothing line on the Home Shopping Network. “I’m globe hoppin’. I’m doing everything.”