The fashions of every season begin on the runways of hundreds of talented designers. They host amazing shows in select cities and countries to introduce the world to their interpretation of fashion and trends. As the pieces scroll down the runway, the venue is packed with buyers, stylists, photographers, and celebrities that flock to get the first look at what’s going to be big for the next season(s). Our daily wardrobes are a direct result of the vision and creativity of these individuals. I had the pleasure to interview one of the most humble and amazing stylists I have ever met. He exudes professionalism, wisdom, and an impeccable sense of style. During my interview, the man on the other end of the conversation had somewhat of a calm or peace about him. Even though he has traveled the world doing what he loves and has mingled with some of the most elite characters, he does not let that interfere with his humanity.
Patrick T. Cooper, a renowned artist in is own right, is internationally recognized as one of the “most style conscious men in fashion.” A self-made force in the industry, Patrick is an Atlanta native with an unparalleled ability to start with a vision, and take you on a quiet of journey through fabrics and tailoring, to then leave you with a sense of elegance. Here is what he had to say about his career:
M. Jai: When did you notice that you were born with the “style gene”?
PC: Honestly, I have always been able to take items and create outfits or a certain look from them. My mother loves telling the story of my favorite Cookie Monster [from Sesame Street] sweater that I would take and pair with different items in my closet. It was then that she noticed my ability to pick, choice, mix, and created looks with just what was in my closet.
M Jai: Where did you study fashion?
PC: I actually never attended school with a concentration in fashion. I went to college wanting to “save the world”. I had this idea that I could make a difference with being a servant of the community. My undergrad was in Sociology and I got my Master’s in Public Policy. While in college I was asked many of times to dress friends and others for various events. I figured if I had this innate talent then why not get paid to do something that comes naturally. So I did.
M Jai: Did you have a mentor in the industry that assisted with your matriculation?
PC: No I didn’t. Everything that I learned was from my own drive and the balance of friends and being spiritually grounded. Because I have been blessed with the ability to withstand and make it in the industry, I find it necessary for me to offer mentor programs to the creative minds of tomorrow.
M Jai: How important is it that you do what you’re passionate about?
PC: I believe that everyone must be true to themselves and follow their dreams. I am personally self-motivated. It is not something is easy and some morning I don’t want to get my day started. But by being self-employed, get going and realize that nothing is coming to me, I have to get it. I surround myself with humble and “real” people. Other like-minded and good-spirited people that love to talk about the future and where they would like to see themselves. I constantly think of Madonna and how she continues to re-invent herself. Just when you think you’ve figured her out, here she comes with something new.
M Jai: Who is your most memorable client?
PC: I have had many memorable moments with clients but I think I would have to say 3 Doors Down and Poet Laureate Rita Dove.
M Jai: Where is your favorite place to shop?
PC: Well over the past year, I have not been inspired by many of the ready-to-wear fashions. So I have been seeking out vintage sneakers, timberlands, and apparel of the 80’s and 90’s. I love to shop at “the racks,” bringing back the styles of yesterday with a modern twist.
M Jai: When working with clients, is there a story that you try to convey with the final look?
PC: There is always a context (treatment) given whenever I start a project. Be it a movie, video, album cover, or photo shoot you must cater to the client. I love to take my clients to a place of “quiet elegance.” In doing this I must also work within the context of the client. There is always the challenge of coloring within the lines and making sure that the client understands my vision.
M Jai: What some begin we can expect in 2009?
PC: This is definitely the year of “Eco-Chic.” Many designers are focusing on creating lines that are environmentally friendly. Also the average consumer is having a hard time financially so the affordable pieces are also going to be big this year.
M Jai: With trends ever-changing, a lot of artist such as T.I., Akon, and Sean “Diddy” Combs take pride in a well-tailored, masculine appearance. Do you think this will transcend to a culture that has adopted the “SAGG”?
PC: I remember working on a XXL cover with T.I., he nor his stylist wanted anything that I brought to him except a pair of “Dickies”. Now he realizes his potential and is dressing the part. The same stands true for many that emulate the street image. A lot of them don’t realize the power they possess and waste a lot of energy. They call it “keeping it real” and in actuality they are cheating themselves of bright futures.
M Jai: Who are you favorite menswear and womenswear designers?
PC: My favorite designs are from an upcoming line by Patrick T. Cooper. This will be a lifestyle brand that offers an array of accessories and a full fashion line.
M Jai: What do you think of one of my favorite menswear designers, Oswald Botang?
PC: I have met Oswald and have a great respect for his creations. His designs are immaculately tailored, well designed, classic, and rich.
M Jai: Are you concerned with longevity in the industry?
PC: To be honest, I am not worried. I surround myself with inspirational friends and persons that have my best interest in heart. We are always looking for ways to better circumstances and ourselves. As long as I continue to grow, maintain a great work ethic, healthy and spiritual grounded, I say a bright future ahead.
M Jai: Are you inspired by the recent elections and the upcoming Inauguration?
PC: I actually take great pride in being an American for a change! It is amazing that we have made strides in how we have come as a society. But we still have a long way to go. I do think that to much attention was given to the fashions of Michele Obama while on the campaign trail. I thought she was very well poised and well spoken. I think that many of her critics do not travel to multiple cities within a week with 2 young children. So they have the time to worry about what they would call her fashion mishaps but I think she doing well with her looks. “If Mrs. Obama ever has the desire to really put an end to all the hoopla then she can call Patrick T. Cooper at any time.”
To learn more about Patrick T. Cooper visit: www.myspace.com/patricktcooper