In celebration of the exhibition Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love and Black History Month, the Kelly Initiative and the de Young paired up to invite creatives across fields to share a sketch inspired by Kelly and his designs. Here, Kibwe Chase-Marshall, cofounder of the Kelly Initiative, speaks with design consultant and professor Renaldo Barnette about his sketch and Kelly’s legacy.
Tell us about the medium you selected to create your sketch; what informed that decision?
I worked in 4H pencil, Copic marker, Berkley bold liner pen, and Sakura Pigma Micron 03 pen. The reason I chose this medium? It’s quick and easy for me. I use this medium most of the time when I’m doing design sketches.
Describe the garments you chose to sketch; does your sketch depict an archival Kelly piece, an evolution of one of his signature looks, or a creation that is purely of your own design?
It has been 32 years since Patrick Kelly’s passing, and I feel like fashion has come around again to Patrick’s signatures: short, fitted (not tight) dresses, skirts, and strong-shouldered jackets with seasonally whimsical accessories that make you smile! I remember Patrick saying, “That ‘chile’ just don’t measure up!” So, I thought of a printed pattern based on an enlarged tape measure printed on a bi-stretch Lycra matte jersey for the dress in the first look. The second look is a double-faced wool-cashmere jacket with embroidered button patches on the shoulders and elbows; it’s worn with a “buttons and bows” printed wool-Lycra ponte skirt. The third look is a bi-stretch Lycra matte jersey top with tropical-weight wool pants accented by “tape measure” printed silk tuxedo stripes. Each look has coordinating accessories.
Describe your relationship with the enduring legacy of Patrick Kelly; what have Mr. Kelly’s style and story meant to you?
I met Patrick through Coco Mitchell and hairstylist Rudi Townsell. I would go to Paris two to three months before his shows; I was basically a gofer or intern to Patrick and his team for the last three seasons that he mounted presentations.
Renaldo Barnette is one of 7th Avenue’s most highly sought-after design consultants, working freelance for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Nicole Miller, and Badgley Mischka. His elegantly expressive sketches remain his industry calling card, and as an illustration professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, he continues to share his gift for creating breathtaking croquis with future generations of fashion talent. @renaldo_barnette
Kibwe Chase-Marshall cut his professional teeth as an apparel designer, working within the studios of some of 7th Avenue's most influential brands (Michael Kors, Isaac Mizrahi, Gap Inc.), before carving out a space in the editorial community as a contributing writer and market editor (Town & Country, Paper, Elle.com). Since 2018, he has diligently operated as an equity advocate, most recently cofounding the Kelly Initiative, a four-point, industry-evolving plan to increase access to opportunities for Black fashion professionals. @byanyseamnecessary
Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love is on view at the de Young museum from October 23, 2021 to April 24, 2022.