Patrick Kelly: Fashion Designer, Trailblazer, And The Visionary Behind Some Of The 80s Most Iconic Looks

BHM Style Profile: Patrick Kelly

Patrick Kelly: Fashion Designer, Trailblazer, And The Visionary Behind Some Of The 80s Most Iconic Looks

We are celebrating his biggest accomplishments!

UPDATED ON : FEBRUARY 3, 2021 / 01:18 PM

Written by Tweety Elitou

At BET, we are privileged to celebrate our Blackness every day. In honor of Black History Month, we are pulling out extra confetti as we profile some of the most influential Black people in the fashion and beauty industries—especially if their accomplishments and contributions are overlooked by mainstream society. Cheers to our icons!

Patrick Kelly was a fashion pioneer who used his playful designs to open a dialog about racism and gender identity. Although his successful career was cut short due to his early passing, the fashion designer left a legacy that still lives on today. 

Below see some of his biggest accomplishments.  

  1. Patrick Kelly Designed A Profitable Fashion Brand
    PARIS, FRANCE - CIRCA 1988: Fashion Designer Patrick Kelly in his Paris studio circa 1988 in Paris, France. (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)
    (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)

    In 1987, Warnaco signed an agreement to manufacture Patrick Kelly's clothing. With the fashion conglomerate's backing, his fashions were soon available in stores worldwide, with sales approaching $7 million in the first year.

  2. PATRICK KELLY Successfully Broke barriers in Paris
    PARIS, FRANCE - CIRCA 1988: A model on the runway at the Patrick Kelly Spring 1989 fashion show circa 1988 in Paris, France. (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)
    (Photo by PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images)

    Kelly became the first American to be voted into the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode in 1988. This allowed him to debut his colorful, playful, and thought-provoking designs during Paris Fashion Week.

  3. Patrick Kelly Dressed Famous Stars In His Stylish Designs
    PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH: Iman walks the runway at the Patrick Kelly Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 1989-1990 fashion show during the Paris Fashion Week in March, 1989 in Paris, France. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
    (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

    The trailblazing designer dressed a list of notable celebrities including; Princess Diana, Cicely Tyson, Grace Jones, Pat Cleveland, Imanand Madonna.

  4. PATRICK KELLY Designed Clothing For All Women
    Fun-loving Patrick Kelly the stuff of fashion legend.
    (Photo by Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

    Kelly was all about designing clothing with inclusivity in mind. The Mississippi-born creative told People Magazine in 1987: "I design for […] all kinds of women. My message is, you're beautiful just the way you are." 

  5. PATRICK KELLY is celebrated as a fashion visionary
    PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH: A model walks the runway at the Patrick Kelly Ready to Wear Fall/Winter 1989-1990 fashion show during the Paris Fashion Week in March, 1989 in Paris, France. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
    (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

    Since his untimely death in 1990, the famed 80s visionary has been celebrated in numerous museum exhibits, including the popular “Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love” that was originally organized in 2014 by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

  6. PATRICK KELLY's legacy still lives on!
    Paris-based American designer Patrick Kelly poses with his models in Paris. The models wear his women's fashions, including colorful dresses and skirts in a variety of fabrics. (Photo by julio donoso/Sygma via Getty Images)
    (Photo by julio donoso/Sygma via Getty Images)

    In 2020, Kelly’s legacy continues with the “The Kelly Initiative.” In an open letter to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), hundreds of Black designers demanded more inclusivity in the fashion industry.

    RELATED | Bethann Hardison: A Model, An Activist, An Icon— We're Highlighting Her Most Notable Achievements!

(Photo: julio donoso/Sygma via Getty Images)

COMMENTS

Latest in style