Queen of the Catwalk

“I’m an energetic ball of enthusiasm, waiting to jump into the next dress.”

PAT CLEVELAND is the legendary Yves Saint Laurent muse credited with revolutionizing the catwalk with her theatrical twirls and dances down the runway in haute couture.

Known as “The Catwalk Queen”, Pat grew up loving fashion design and only began modeling in 1967 after a series of serendipitous events. First, Vogue editor Carrie Donovan discovered Pat on the New York subway and invited Pat to show her designs to Vogue. When Vogue featured Pat’s designs in their magazine, the editors at Ebony were impressed and hired Pat as a model for their Fashion Fair tour.

While on tour, Pat and the other models faced racism and resistance from backwards people who name called and threw fire bombs at Fashion Fair’s traveling bus. Pat remembers: “I’ll never forget that, because they didn’t want to hurt us, they wanted to kill us because of our skin color.”

Pat persevered and soon major fashion designers were booking her for shows and other fashion insiders became fans–Diana Vreeland, Irving Penn and Andy Warhol among them. In the 1970s, Pat and Angelica Huston, both favorites of designer Halston, were known as the Halstonettes.

In Europe, Pat modeled for Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Thierry Mugler and Christian Dior. And in 1973, Pat was one of 30 African American models featured during the famous Parisian face-off between American and French fashion designers at the Palace of Versailles. After an illustrious career, Pat is now a writer and socialite frequently spotted on the front rows during fashion week.

Every since I featured Pat’s daughter, Anna in my best of pre-fall roundup, I’ve gotten questions about who she was, so I thought I’d include Anna’s work along side her mother’s. While Pat helped to define beauty in the 1960’s and 70s, Anna is doing the same for the 21st century. Like mother, like daughter.

“I always say if you have a dream and you love it, make it come true, in fashion it’s how you dress, diamond collars, bracelets or stilettos. Whatever appeals to your fashion sense. If you can get it, it can be like one of the five senses, it is for me…live it, use it, enjoy it, let it be you.”

“You know fashion gives you that extra something, it helps make the world an interesting place to live in because it is part of life. Thank God for fashion.”

“Seeking the absolute beauty of life. That’s what I’m all about really.”

“I’m not into Botox because it might ruin me. I’ve seen a lot of people get messed up from it, and it scares me. I think you can have laugh lines and age gracefully.”

“I exercise every day. I swim and I practice yoga. Sometimes I’ll just get down on the floor wherever I am and make myself into a pretzel.”

Anna on her Mom: “When I was little, I’d go backstage with my mum or see her on TV, and I really liked it. But she always said to me, ‘You pick your own future.'”

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