FashionDecode introduces the fifth installment of “The Faces of Modern Beauty” by writer Johnny Cassanova. The Faces of Modern Beauty aims to spotlight individuals who are influencing or transcending the many facets of beauty. In the act of spotlighting these individuals, FashionDecode hopes to showcase and promote the various forms of beauty.
When Patrick McDonald arrived on the social scene of Studio 54, New York was at the height of its creative career and fashion icons roamed its streets. This acted as the perfect painting for a young with a unique sense of style to blossom. Patrick, integrating him into the New York maze, instantly became a part of the fashion world as the “Dandy of New York”. As the blossoming Dandy made his way through prestigious fashion houses and retailers, McDonald held several columns in high-fashion magazines, appeared in movies such as “The Devil Wears Prada”, and has been featured in books including Catherine Johnson’s “Thank-You Andy Warhol”. Now Patrick joins Johnny Cassanova to discuss beauty, why he left the New York pavement for California Hills, and his upcoming projects.
Johnny Cassanova: How would you describe “true beauty”?
Patrick McDonald: It’s difficult to describe the word ‘beauty’ because it’s in the eye of the beholder. Personally, beauty is best described as an idea. I feel that the idea is a reflection of our own thoughts and processes. It can be preconceived from what we are taught or what we feel. I find beauty in everything if you truly look close enough.
JC: Are you inspired by beauty? Who or what is your beauty inspiration?
PM: Oh my god, I am absolutely inspired by beauty. I love beauty. Beauty is my life – that’s the Dandy way. Anything I can see can be beautiful and has the possibility to inspire me. When I see it, I zone into it.
JC: How did you begin to develop your visual aesthetic/style?
PM: It was an evolutionary process. Growing up, I adored fashion and old films. This collective inspiration of beauty inspired me to create my look. I don’t believe anyone can say they have fully created their own look without the inspiration of some other force – there is always a spark of connection as to why someone creates a certain look. For me, it was my environment. Before I moved to California, I lived in New York for thirty-six years. My inspiration was taken from the streets of New York. The look I created was a look of freedom.
JC: What made you leave New York?
PM: I was born in Germany and I came to this country in….Let’s just say many moons ago with my twin brother. After growing up in California, I moved to New York in 1978. My brother stayed in California and opened up a shop fourteen months ago boutique selling home accessories and men’s clothing. It’s a shame because I really wanted to do something like that in New York because New York is a part of me – I will always be a part of New York. However, the city is no longer a place for creative people because it’s purely money driven. The corporations control the creative people.
JC: Creative individuals often go through a time period where they must confront their insecurities and their own identity. Was there ever a time you struggled with self- acceptance and expression? If so, how did you begin to find clarity and comfort in your own skin?
PM: I am a very sensitive person and I do take things to heart, but I was never a conformist. I opted to create my own look and style even if it meant being ridiculed. I didn’t like being taunted or teased as a young boy, but it didn’t seem to matter more to me. My desire to express myself always became the more important factor.
JC: How would you feel if you weren’t able to express yourself?
PM: If I didn’t have my self-expression then I’d lose myself. If one chooses to be a conformist based on his or her own insecurities then that is okay, but it is not fine for me. I will always treat myself as a blank canvas. I will wake up every morning and create the painting I wish to see.
JC: How do you approach the painting you wish to see?
PM: I stay true to myself while evolving based on personal inspirations. I have to please myself because I have one life to live.. There are circumstances I have come across that have made me unhappy. It’s usually other people that have made me feel blue or disappointed me – I don’t want to do that to myself. To create this painting makes me happy. Do you know what it will do for you, Johnny? It will always bring the people around you that want to make you happy. People that don’t like it or laugh will always run away from. I want them to run away. [Laughs]
JC: What is your beauty regimen to maintain your skin?
PM: I’m a very simple person – I moisturize. I always make sure to moisturize with Nivea’s Original Lotion. I use it constantly because it provides me with smooth skin.
JC: In a time of major beauty movements – including the natural look, androgyny, and the embracement of all figures – what do you think will be the next major direction for beauty?
PM: I hope somewhere better. I long for natural beauty, again, because the nips and tucks have become excessive. All of these procedures look awful. I don’t believe a procedure here and there is a problem, but have some sad news for you; it’s only going to get worse. We’re all going to have so much work until we look distorted – I will never look distorted. Beaut will become a class situation. In today’s world, especially in New York, there is no middle class. You’re either really rich or super poor. But the point is, the rich are going to be cold, hard, and distorted while the poor are going to be the beauties because they’re natural. There’s a fever for plastic surgery, especially for young people, but they don’t need it. If you have a big nose and you don’t like it then make the most of it – do something great with it. There have been a lot of iconic people in fashion who have not been beautiful, but they did marvelous things.
JC: What is your field of work and what kind of work do you tend to produce?
PM: I own a shop with my brother called Number 6 – a galleria of sorts selling home accessories and men’s clothing. In addition, I work with a jewelry designer, Kimberly McDonald. Kimberly makes divine jewelry. However, my main focus is my book that centers on my life in New York – From Studio 54 to my life in the Lower East Village.
JC: Do you have any boundaries in your style or work?
PM: None. It’s the key to happiness. If it doesn’t hurt anybody else then it’s okay. If it’s a sight for sore eyes then let them have sore eyes.
JC: If you could describe today’s fashion in one word, what would it be and why?
PM: Commercial. It’s not about talent anymore – it’s about who is chosen and who can sell the most. The world is greedy and all that matters is that it sells. It’s a shame because it returns to the reason I left New York – money is running the creative individual. They push them to create over-priced items that aren’t even worth it. When I was a young boy and moved to New York, I could save up and buy one really beautiful designer piece. Now, the young boy, like me, can’t do that. He has to opt for fast fashion and it destroys his ability to be an individual.
JC: Do you believe it’s hard to be an original in a time where we are overexposed to media?
PM: I would have to say yes, but being an individual is difficult because there are so many people pushing you to look a certain way. For myself, it was always, ‘Why do you wear makeup?’, ‘Why do you dress that way?’, ‘Why are your eyebrows so crazy?’, or ‘What’s that? I don’t understand’. What they don’t understand is that they’re limiting the individual from being creative when they ask those questions. There are so many rules when there should be no rules. We are humans, regardless of gender, and we’re consistently told what color, style, or fit is for whom. Clothing has no gender. It creates labels and I never put labels on anyone – I just look away if I don’t like it.
by Johnny Cassanova