Pat Cleveland, Halston & Irving Penn

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Pat Cleveland by Irving Penn, Vogue, November 1972.

Pat Cleveland, the kinetic and beautiful model and seventies icon, has always been a woman on the go, from the time of her discovery on the subway in 1966 by then Vogue Fashion Editor Carrie Donovan to now, when she’s writing an autobiography between shoots for Lanvin and Barneys. Here, she recalls some of the most memorable moments of her career, including working with Halston and sitting for the inimitable Irving Penn.

In 1972 I had my first opportunity to work with Mr. Penn. I wore a cream-colored Halston dress and a gardenia in my hair. It was the most frightening experience for me, but it needn’t have been. He sat you on a box and told you to be very still, which was hard for me. He told me to look over there, “there’s a bug.” He taught me to use my eyes.

Penn told me he was tired of photographing fashion and wanted to just shoot flowers. I told him: “Why not?” Soon after he published his book on orchids. I felt like one of his flowers.

Halston was a charming young man, he was so true to being an American. He wanted to put people in the best cut they could be in.

For the Duane Michals shoot, he wanted all of his favorite girls around him. We were the core. I’m wearing a caftan that was painted by Joe Eula, Halston’s friend. Halston was so good at directing people. If something wasn’t right, he’d take some giant scissors and do it himself, with no pins, just draping.

He was a celebrity. We first met at the Ebony Fashion Fair when I was fifteen. Later, I met him at a party. I was sitting with Stephen Burrows, and Halston came into the room and he was very beautiful and he said, “I would love to have you in my show.” That was when he was on Sixty-eighth Street on the top two floors, which were like his home. The shows were small, more like a party than a show. Everyone knew each other—and the champagne was flowing. He did have a taste for luxury.

Article by Laird Borrelli-Persson for vogue.com.

Want more Pat Cleveland? Check out our past post when she was day nine of our Twelve Days of Supermodels!

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