Wednesday night marked a first for Pat Cleveland. The 71-year-old celebrated supermodel and long-time Halston muse, known for championing inclusivity, walked her first runway in Los Angeles. The occasion was the close of the Julia Clancey fashion show, part of a fashion week in L.A. sponsored by digital textile printing company Kornit. Event and film producer Bryan Rabin connected Cleveland and Clancy to make the moment a reality.
Known for her glamorous kaftans and turbans, Clancey (who lives between West Hollywood and London) worked with Kornit to create the first prints for her brand — think rainbow martini glasses and graphic chains in loungey, jet-set silhouettes. Clancey clients include Jennifer Lopez and Madonna, who wore the kaftans during her Madame X tour and at her 2019 Oscars after-party.
“The collection is called Joy and I wanted it to be a celebration,” Clancey told The Hollywood Reporter. “Inclusivity is very important to me. We are finally at a time where much-needed diversity is becoming a reality. We have a long way to go for it to be more than a marketing tool. Casting was really about finding the magic in each person and truly letting them express themselves and shine.” (Kornit Fashion Week in L.A. continues tomorrow with a runway presentation by Asher Levine, known for dressing music stars such as Lil Nas X and Lady Gaga, while stylist and costume designer Jen Rade will present a collection of digitally printed t-shirts.)
Among those joining Cleveland to roller skate, flamenco, tap or ballet dance down Clancey’s runway were 55-year-old actress Lisa Edelstein (9-1-1: Lone Star, House), 56-year-old actress Robbi Chong, 52-year old dancer and choreographer Kevin Stea and plus-size model Stella Ellis. Stea orchestrated the show, which took place under dazzling disco balls to the tune of songs such as “Vogue””by Madonna and “The Rockafeller Skank” by Fatboy Slim. Looks were accessorized with ‘70s-inspired metallic platform sandals, chainmail scarves, floral headbands and colorful pom-pom drop earrings.
“When I was a teenager, we used to do fashion shows at [the nightclub] Danceteria in New York as club kids, and I’ve done a couple charity shows, but I’m no model,” Edelstein told THR with a smile.
This appearance marked Cleveland’s first catwalk show in nearly two years — the last a February 2020 Laura Biagiotti presentation at Milan Fashion Week. “When the [COVID-19] virus came to Milan, I was in the first show that had no audience,” Cleveland told THR backstage, where her husband, the former model Paul van Ravenstein, stood by her side. (The couple flew in from their home base in New Jersey).
Gesturing to her flamboyant, floral-bedecked turban and sequin orange-and-pink print kaftan, Cleveland said, “This is for an elegant evening, like if you go meet the Queen of England. I would love to see the Queen of England in this, because she would be so comfortable. Or maybe Meghan [Markle] can wear one!”
Following a 2019 health scare when she was diagnosed with colon cancer after walking the Tommy x Zendaya show during Paris Fashion Week, Cleveland has honed in on health and healing, in fashion and beyond.
“Julia is very concerned about what she puts into the clothing to make women feel comfortable,” she said. “Sustainable fabrics and being careful about what you use is very important for the environment. I hadn’t ever met Julia before coming here. But we have the same feeling about nature, and we speak the jargon of creativity. She’s very spiritual and she loves animals and travels the world to make sure the work that’s done is handmade by artisans. She came to my room [at The Ritz-Carlton] last night and we were flittering around and dancing. She brought the clothes out and made me feel like a butterfly!”
Given her globe-trotting life, Cleveland can think of plenty of destinations to showcase Clancey’s kaftans. “My lifestyle is sometimes living in the jungle or going to these exotic places, and I want to be covered and look bright,” she says. “I mean, why wear only black? You have to wear a touch of color, because you’re alive and we can see color and rainbows. It’s very healing to wear colors and to have something that twinkles. Sparkle makes you feel happy! And you don’t necessarily have to bring jewelry along, because the embroidery is the jewelry. We have to look for clothing that will bring us joy.”
The model — who famously walked in the 1973 Battle of Versailles fashion show that’s portrayed in Ryan Murphy’s 2021 mini-series Halston — made a statement about the lack of diversity in fashion decades ago by moving to France in 1971 and vowing not to return until U.S Vogue featured a Black model on the cover. After Beverly Johnson landed the 1974 cover, Cleveland returned to New York, true to her word.
Talking to the array of sizes, shapes and ethnicities on Clancey’s runway, she said: “Tonight, in this show, the beauty is in the energy and the humanity and the inclusiveness and the compassion that we have for one another … This celebration of inclusiveness for all who want to participate in the world of fashion in this way is just beautiful. I think all flowers have a place in the garden of love, and this is what you call love. All these different works of art are human beings, individual and very valuable. So let’s keep the beauty in expressing ourselves, no matter what size or shape.”
A friend of Andy Warhol, Cleveland was known to be a fixture at Studio 54. Asked whether the freestyle dance club format of the show sparked any memories, she said, “The finale was absolutely Studio 54 because everybody was dressed up and partying and dancing and individual in the way that they all blended in. It was all part of the cake, part of the joy! Everyone truly found themselves in their dance or in their expression.”
She continued, “I like the old days, when it was 9 to 5. Now it’s 24-7 or nothing. So we just have to find our footing and find how we can move our bodies a little more and feel a little happy joy and be more playful and still do what we have to do.”
During her cancer recovery, Cleveland learned to practice reiki and she says that her latest watercolor paintings are inspired by chakras and the healing power of color: “I was told that I should have an exhibit at the Beers Gallery in London with my mother, Lady Bird’s, paintings and my paintings together, so we’ll see what happens.”
This week she is on her way to Paris with her model daughter, Anna Cleveland, for the Moet & Chandon L’Officiel 100 year celebration party and on to London to participate in a documentary miniseries for the BBC on Black American history.
“That’s how you can enjoy life is to allow yourself to be creative and put some action behind it,” she says emphatically, before disappearing into the night, still wearing her sequined scarlet boots from the runway.