Hat – Rod Keenan // Jacket – David Hart // Shirt and Tie – XOOS in Paris
Grooming: Brandie Hopstein with Opus Beauty using MAC Cosmetics
Lighting | First Assistant: Krystallynne Gonzalez
DIT | Second Assistant: Calvin Hu
Color Grading and Retouching: Veil Digital
Principal Retoucher: Hugo Ceneviva for Veil
Associate Retoucher: Kevin Osmond for Veil
Special thanks to: Michael Berberick – Veil Digital, James Ingram – Splashlight Studio
(Interview follows photo series)
Hat – Rod Keenan // Jacket – Thom Browne for Black Fleece // Shirt and Tie – XOOS in Paris // Trousers – Gucci // Watch – Cartier
Hat – Rod Keenan
Hat – Rod Keenan // 1920’s Vintage Kimono // Shirt and Tie – XOOS in Paris // Trousers – Gucci
Hat – Rod Keenan // Jacket – Thom Browne for Black Fleece // Shirt and Tie – XOOS in Paris // Watch – Cartier
Hat – Rod Keenan // Black Jacket – Thom Browne for Black Fleece // Red Jacket – David Hart // Shirt and Tie – XOOS in Paris // Watch – Cartier
Hat – Rod Keenan // Red Jacket – David Hart // Shirt and Tie – XOOS in Paris // Watch – Cartier
INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
STORY BY RACHEL BERGMAN
Patrick McDonald prefers a bicycle to a Vespa, a croissant to a bagel, tea to coffee, and jazz to blues. He prefers leather to denim, Lou Reed to Iggy Pop, and––no surprise here––film to digital. Imagista approached Patrick, fashion icon and true beacon of taste, to discuss the origins of his dandyism, his introduction into the world of style, and the key influences on his character and profession. In a collaboration with photographer Payam, who asked his subject to bring four of his favorite outfits to their shoot and otherwise left the concept carte blanche, Patrick McDonald shows us, through his words and his images, that it is, without a doubt, the man who makes the clothes, and the man who makes the dandy.
Imagista: If someone asks you what you do for a living, what do you say?
Patrick McDonald: First of all, I really kind of hate that question, but I’ll answer it for you because I think that’s what everybody asks. It’s always the first question, and it seems important to everybody: “Well, what do you do?” Well, I do me and what I do is I live and exist for beauty. And I’m a dandy. I live in New York City and I’ve always existed for the visual and creative side of life. I do dressing and the way I look. It’s what I consider my performance art. It’s my way of expressing myself, but as far as saying what I do, I’ve done many things. I’m a dandy of all trades. I’ve worked for many different fashion designers. I love fashion. But I’m not going to nail it down, like, “I’m a techie” or “I’m a banker.” I’m not some vice president mucky muck muck. You know? Well, you know what? I’m the president of dandies. That’s what I am.
Imagista: When we spoke before, I thought it was so fascinating that you grew up on the West Coast because, well, not to make presumptions here, but dandy seems like more of an East Coast or sort of British phenomenon, even though I understand it’s expanded…
PMD: Well, you know, Oscar Wilde was Irish and he was a dandy. But I was born in Germany, and my brother and I came to this country when we were a year old aboard a ship called the SS United States. My grandfather had one of the first men’s haberdasheries, in a small town in California called San Luis Obispo. He was English and his name was Eric Cesar Wickenden, so there comes the fashion and the English and the clothing background. My mother didn’t teach us how to dress but she exposed us to fashion. She took my twin brother Michael and me and my older brother to Europe for a summer in 1967. I was in London during the peak of the ’60s London explosion, Twiggy, and men’s fashion being eccentric. You know, besides Savile Row tailored clothing, it was flower power, and then it became the Summer of Love in San Francisco. My mother was born in San Francisco and we used to go there in the ’60s, so it was all just a part of something that I was and came from. So, there you have it.
Imagista: You told me such a crazy story about meeting Warhol. Do you mind talking about that a little bit?
PMD: I went to college in Malibu, believe it or not––surfer dandy! I went to college at Pepperdine. I was in my dorm room and my friend Gordon Berry and I had read that Andy was going to be in Los Angeles, and of course I knew who Andy was. I knew about the whole scene in New York that was going on. I knew about Max’s Kansas City. So Gordon and I––on his rotary phone, no less––we dialed the swanky hotels in Los Angeles. We called the Beverly Hills Hotel and I think the Beverly Wilshire was only the second hotel we called. Lo and behold, Andy was staying there and they connected me to his room. Fred Hughes answered the phone and we were nervous but we made up wild names and they invited us to the hotel for drinks at a bar. So Gordon and I walk in and there’s Andy and Fred Hughes and a group of people sitting at a banquette table and we introduced ourselves. My name was Vladimir Von Whirlhoff and Gordon changed his name to Nicky Lourden and we were just kooky and they knew those weren’t our real names. Andy took Polaroids of us. We wore our finest. I wore my biggest elephant bell-bottoms, probably pale yellow, high-waist, with a glitter belt. Andy was a charming, fabulous guy, and he said “you’ve gotta move to New York.” I graduated from Pepperdine in 1978 and about a week after graduation, I took Andy’s advice and I moved to New York. And I did see Andy in New York periodically because my first job there was at Fiorucci. I knew all these people who I really wanted to know. I really wanted to be in the group scene. I wanted to be part of it. It was exciting for me and I felt I could let my creativity go crazy and I did. I just did. I did.
Imagista: Did you consider yourself a dandy when you were in college?
PMD: Well, I didn’t relate to the term “dandy” until later but I definitely marched to the beat of my own drummer. I mean, I loved what was going on in fashion in the ‘70s. I adored it. I mean the glam rock thing was my thing and the makeup and when I first saw Bowie and Hunky Dory and Alice Cooper I was just like, that was me. I’ve never been a traditional dandy and I think that a lot of people have really kind of questioned my dandyism. They say “he’s more of a fop, not a dandy.” And you know, I’m what I wanna be, and they can’t judge me for that. Nowadays they do exhibits and they call people dandies like they call people icons. It’s like whatever goes, goes. I’m more textbook than the ones they say are, anyway.
Imagista: Who had the biggest influence on you, both in a direct and personal manner in your life?
PMD: I knew one of the most famous actresses in the world, probably, and her name was Elizabeth Taylor, and I met her in the mid ‘80s through my dear friend José Eber. And I’m not saying we were best friends. We weren’t, but we knew each other over the years. I don’t think I’d say “mentor,” because I’ve been my own mentor. I’d say she was an inspiration. I’ve been inspired by Elizabeth and her endless compassion toward other human beings. She used her star power to get a point across, to help others, and I think that a lot of the so-called stars today use the press they get for their own benefit. That’s what I learned from Elizabeth. I learned compassion. I learned respect. I learned loyalty. And a good eyebrow and a beauty mark.
Imagista: And who had an influence on you in an indirect manner?
PMD: Someone who I was lucky to have actually met once, and I’ve seen him perform many times––and I don’t want this to sound cliché because he just passed and I would have said this before he passed––but I would say it was David Bowie. I saw in David the creativity and the freedom that he lived his life with, and how he created what he loved, and how he expressed himself the way he wanted to in a positive, fantastic way that touched others.
Imagista: Speaking of Bowie, do you listen to music a lot at home or do you prefer a quieter home environment?
PMD: I listen to music at home and it’s funny you ask that because music is really important to me. It evokes emotion for me, and it brings me back to different places if I feel like that, or it makes me happy, or it makes me sad, or it makes me emotional, but I need music in my life. I don’t want a quiet home. I like quiet when I sleep but actually, sometimes, I like music when I sleep. I don’t like TV so much, personally. I do watch it sometimes, but you know what? I like the radio. I love listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Horn or if I’m in the mood I’ll put on an old disco tape and listen to some Donna Summer, and feel like I’m back on Fire Island, or at Studio 54, twirling the night away.
Imagista: If you weren’t a dandy, what do you think you would do? If you could be yourself, but had to choose a different career, what would it be?
PMD: Oh my gosh. It sounds like I’d be in prison. It sounds like a sentence. It sounds like an awful, awful sentence. You know what? That’s alright. I think that I would be…um, I don’t even know. I probably would do…hmm. I have to ponder this for a second. I’d be a pop star. But that’s dandy! But that’s dandy. So maybe that doesn’t work. That doesn’t work. You know, I’d like to help others so maybe I’d be a doctor. But oh, I don’t know about that. I don’t know.
Imagista: I love that that’s a very challenging question for you to answer because it’s not for everybody. What it signals to me is that you have really lived life the way you wanted to live it.
PMD: Well, I think there’s just been strength in living my life the way I wanted to live my life. Somehow, I just figured it out. I don’t know if I figured it out completely, because I do have to do things I don’t want to do, that’s for sure. But I think we all have to do things we don’t want to do. I think other humans have put that restraint on all of us. We’re all our worst enemies.
Imagista: I want to take this last moment to really acknowledge you for who you are and for your creativity, and also for the courage you display just being yourself. I don’t think you’re even aware of how powerful a role model you are for a lot of people, and not just people who become dandies and not just men and women who have chosen a different path in life than average.
PMD: Thank you. I just don’t think about those things, but it’s nice to hear, and if I’m an inspiration to anyone who is afraid or wants to live their life and create and express themselves the way they want to express themselves, well, I’ve done the right thing, then.