A Conversation With: Pat and Anna Cleveland
August 12, 2016
This fall, the NM Art of Fashion® stars share more than model looks. The first time Pat and Anna Cleveland posed for the camera together, Pat was the one who’d been booked—to model jewels once owned by the Duchess of Windsor. Anna, all of 10 days old, was simply along for the ride. The year was 1989 and the ’70s icon was a working mom. “I had these giant pearls around my neck, and Anna put them in her mouth,” says Pat. In that moment, her daughter got a taste of what the future could hold. “I taught her to be the pearl, and let the world be your oyster.”
If anyone knows about being a pearl in an oyster-like world, it’s Pat Cleveland. Discovered at age 16 by a Vogue editor who spotted the exotic-looking teen on a New York City subway, Pat quickly became not just a model, but also a muse to designers and artists like Halston, Yves Saint Laurent, Andy Warhol, and Salvador Dalí, among others. “I was the daughter of a painter, so I knew what it meant to stay still and allow an artist to fantasize about who you could be,” says Pat, who wrote of the era in her recently published memoir, Walking With the Muses (Simon & Schuster). “Then it was designers fantasizing about how they could transform a woman from a dull, mundane creature into an exquisite, magnificent creature of desire. That’s how you become the model that they all want.”
For Anna, being the daughter of an iconic model was both a blessing and a burden. For many years she was torn: Was modeling really her thing, or her mother’s thing? Growing up, she sampled the possibilities—walking Moschino’s runway at age five and appearing in French Vogue at 13—but only now is Anna experiencing success on her own merits. At 27, an age when most modeling careers tend to wind down, not up, she is having something of a moment. In the last year alone, she’s appeared on the cover of Italian Vogue twice, been crowned “fashion’s new favorite girl” by Elle, walked countless runways, and scored ad campaigns for Lanvin, Marc Jacobs, and Bottega Veneta.
“I’m blessed to have had my mother as a role model because every girl needs a role model you can aspire to be,” she says. “But it’s been more difficult than people think. I’ve had a lot of doors slammed in my face.”
Not anymore. Designers like Jeremy Scott, Zac Posen, and Jean Paul Gaultier have all called Anna a muse. That’s key, says Pat, who knows a thing or two about being both model and muse (and isn’t afraid to express some maternal pride).
“If you are a muse, they want you to be around, because things start happening for them,” she enthuses. “They get inspired to do better, and create things they never thought they knew how to do. You wake them up! You give them a way to see things in a better way, because you so totally believe in what they’re doing. Anna is a muse to me, because, when I look at her, I get so inspired.”
Read on to discover how Pat and Anna Cleveland are making noise today.
Neiman Marcus: What would you like to make noise about in today’s world?
Pat Cleveland: We need to be more accepting, and see ourselves in other people. Like mirrors, we need to reflect not only the outside, but where are we going as human beings, with our feelings, and our emotions, and our needs, and our ingenuity. What are we going to give to the world from our hearts? That’s what we need to find out.
NM: If you could share a meal with any woman, past or present, who would it be?
PC: My mom. I’d ask her ‘What’s it like in heaven? Do I need a ticket? What do I need to do?’ And she would answer, ‘Oh, just live your life, and feel divine, and you’ll get here soon enough.’
AC: Marchesa Casati. She had lavish parties, and would always dress up and have peacocks in her garden. I would love to have a meal at her house, because she knew who she was, and that, to me, is quite important.
NM: What is your idea of the perfect day?
PC: Wake up early and see the sunrise. Then put on something really beautiful and feel gorgeous. Then have a big lunch with someone somewhere fabulous, so that I can talk about it and put it in my diary. Then do some yoga, and maybe write a song, or finish another book. Then invite some people over for dinner and cap it off by going out and looking at the stars.
NM: What do you want your legacy to be?
PC: She lived her life to the fullest and wore beautiful clothes doing it.
NM: What is the one item every woman should have in her closet?
AC: A purse that’s big enough to dump things in. So no one knows how many things you have in your bag—like Mary Poppins.
NM: Describe your closet in a few words.
PC: Colorful. Organized. Vintage.
AC: Always evolving.