New Yorker Patrick Cupid has “a cosmopolitan view on world style” and has always been a fashion designer. Once holding a pencil, he started to draw clothes. However, he had no idea that drawing clothes and sewing them up was something people did for a living – especially not young black men. We had a conversation with the talented designer about creating sexy, yet liberating collections and the power of Anna Wintour.
Cover photo: © Patrick Cupid
Patrick Cupid is a name to watch. As a native New Yorker from the Bronx, he designs ready-to-wear collections for women.
Cupid’s collections are feminine, wearable, elegant and liberating. Despite his clear strategy and direction of his collections, he didn’t always know he wanted to become a fashion designer. Not what you would expect from a boy who has been drawing clothes since the moment he could hold a pencil. “I’ve always been a designer and started drawing triangular ball gowns that just kept evolving.”
He continues: “I think I was 6 when I sewed my first button. No one taught me, I just need to fix my shirt and my mother always kept sewing kit. Once that needle was in my hand, everything else followed.” And so it did. However, he didn’t know that fashion designer was an actual profession, until he watched the Fashion File documentary on Karl Lagerfeld.
Hence, it soon became clear that Cupid had to become a fashion designer. He studies at both F.I.T. and Parsons, respectively located in Milan and New York City. When asking about the differences between the two, the designer answers resolutely: “Whereas each does vary in its focus, training it is more about your chemistry with individual tutors and mentors within the structure – and of course what surrounds you.” He adds: “Regarding NYC, F.I.T. is an excellent school for training designers to work with and for others – Parsons leans towards promoting brand creators.”
Hence, the major difference, according to Cupid, is creativity. “Because of the structure of the Italian fashion system, Milan can’t offer to students the same resources found in the New York Garment center. What perhaps lacks here is more than made up with a massive to push your creativity, which is uniquely bound to discipline.”
Cupid labeled his latest designs as “elegant, sexy and liberating”. Is that what he wished his creations to be? Without doubt: “Honestly, I don’t really know any other way to make clothing.”
“A woman who is made to be confident acquires so much more of herself”
This needs some further explanation. Cupid continues: “Clothing is part of the outer self. It is a huge part of the visual ‘you’ which you can control. Elegance, in my opinion, is a quiet equal to strength. Sexy, is a call to attention not exposure. However liberation, meaning freedom, is the balance of the two. A woman who is made to be confident acquires so much more of herself. How is this done ? Its not just design of a garment, it is a subtle mix of a wide range of voices, cultural references, fabrics, texture, drape, fit, color, humour, sobriety, mathematics, geometry… I design so people don’t have to make all those choices … they are filtered through my vision.”
His latest collection, as showed at Paris Fashion Week, is called “Elementary”. This collection pays a tribute to the new cultures and religions that immigrated to populate the Caribbean. “Just as Latin music and rhythm is directly descended from Africa, color, symbolism and philosophy is also part of this world melting-pot of culture.”
Despite his short career, Cupid has met many people in the know. “I remember getting stared down by Anna Wintour at the 92nd Street. I went to hear a talk with Calvin Klein and Fern Mallis. When it was over, out walks Anna in a dark green coat and matching snakeskin boots. She turned and stared directly at me for about 3 minutes. I smiled but was too shy to go over, now, I would definitely have.”
Inspiration and future
When asking about Patrick Cupid’s main sources of inspiration, he doesn’t have to think deeply. “Things have a way of revealing themselves. I do my best to stay open and receive inspiration. Once an idea has sparked it evolves through research and understanding.”
“Alexander McQueen has been a long-time inspiration of mine”
He continues: “My latest Spring/Summer collection is personal as it relates to my background, but the inspiration started with seeing people on the street wearing Santeria beads. In this whole, being constantly curious and visually aware is key. Traveling nurtures this as you see all for new. In a year when I have spent time between Paris, Mexico, Italy, and fresh eyes back home, I have just seen so much!”
Furthermore, there are some heroes he would like to work with or would have liked to work with. “Alexander McQueen has been a long-time inspiration – from the days of Lee laying down its DNA to the way the company is now driven – master at being both classic and cutting edge contemporary with such ease.”
About his near future, Cupid says: “I clearly see myself with my first CFDA award and developing new fabrics. By that point I’d like to be in my own atelier working on my Jetsons inspired collection.”
One thing is sure: this designer knows what he does, while keeping his goals clear. Looking back at the past years as a beginning fashion creative, he would give himself two pieces of advice: “Failure is the best teacher and when Anna Wintour stares at you walk over and say hello.” We couldn’t agree more.