Read any interview with Pat Cleveland and you’re instantly transported through time; twirling down catwalks in Paris in the 70s, twinkling under the lights on the dance floor of Studio54, pulling an all-nighter with Grace Jones, Anjelica Huston and Andre Leon Talley or being drawn by Salvadore Dali. You can feel her loving, magical energy through her words and it all makes sense.
As one of the world’s first African American supermodels and one of fashion's most flamboyant icons, Pat Cleveland has a career that spans over five decades. Scouted on the subway in NYC when she was 16, later moving to Paris where she slept on the floor of one of Karl Lagerfield’s apartments and quickly rose to fame working alongside Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler, Valentino and Christian Dior. She was one of the OG ‘Halstonettes’, a muse to Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí and fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez. She surrounded herself with interesting people and she never missed a beat, Pat Cleveland has always been in the moment.
With her illustrious career and vivacious energy, she will have an everlasting impact on fashion. This is her life in looks.
A young Pat Cleveland and her mom, Ladybird.
Starcrossed lovers; Muhammad Ali and Pat Cleveland's fleeting romance caught on film.
Chic silk dress and sleek hair captured by Irving Penn in 1971.
This is the year she moved to Paris and slept on the floor of one of Karl Lagerfield's apartments, promising not to return to the US until a black model was on the cover of US Vogue.
Glamorous opera gloves, voluminous waves, a bouquet of roses; Pat Cleveland was the original "Halstonette".
The half-slick-back/natural hair is giving us life right now. Pat Cleveland modelling for Stephen Burrows.
Eating a sandwich at the iconic "Battle of Versailles" Fashion Show in Paris; French designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy competed against Halston, Bill Blass and Anne Klein - you might remember that scene from Halston on Netflix.
Bangs, blush and a liquid-purple ensemble for a night on the dance floor by Stern in NYC, 1974
Frou Frou, Pat Cleveland for Valentino Garavani in the Ebony Fashion Fair, 1974-75.
"so I just jumped in the bath with my little G-string on and bubbled my face out of the water, and he took the Polaroids. It was just very playful.” - Pat Cleveland reminisces on her bath shoot by Antonio Lopez.
Sheer beauty with soft pink makeup and a hooded veil.
Chic beach day with bestfriend, Halston.
The curls! The dress! OG party girl, Pat Cleveland at Haltsons disco at Studio 54, wearing a Zandra Rhodes gown.
Twirling around smooth curls, modelling a Stephen Burrows halter in 1977.
The one and only wrap t-shirt dress from Halston’s 1978 resort collection.
Organza Eleganza at the Black Ball in Paris.
Fully committed to the look, Pat Cleveland and friends attend Regine’s Rio Carnival party in NYC, 1980.
"Le Palace! Everybody wanted to go to The Palace," she said. "It was where you could be a princess or a queen, a show-off or a jester. You could see stars in people’s eyes. We were all so happy to be out and twinkly and in the music."
80s beauty, Pat Cleveland for YSL.
Classic white tee, blue jeans and a pretty pink blush. 2023 loves it.
"Well, I was six months pregnant when I came down out of the sky" - Pat Cleveland reflects on Thierry Mugler's 10th anniversary collection in March 1984
Another iconic lime green, hot pink 80s moment for YSL.
Pat Cleveland as Josephine Baker on a 1986 Patrick Kelly runway in Paris.
Walking the Chanel show with her family in 2003.
Photographed by Stephen Meisel for Vogue Italia, 2008
"When you’re in a good place and you go out on the runway, it’s perfect. The people who want to see those clothes and the people who all worked so hard to make them, it’s like we’re all one people – it feels like a prayer. And to be in the spotlight...that’s heaven, you’re just going up another level. It’s not street level. It’s fashion level. The spaceship is taking off and everybody’s in it. For me, that’s how it feels." - Pat Cleveland with her daughter Anna in Gentlewoman, 2013.
Once a disco diva, always a disco diva!
Being the icon she is in Hunger Magazine, wearing YSL.
100 covers, 100 people, 100 stories. Pat Cleveland featured on the cover of Vogue Italia. Shot by Mark Borthwick.
American Beauty; Pat Cleveland holding her 1971 cover of L’OFFICIEL.