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Creative Notions: Robert Escalera

In celebration of the exhibition Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love and Black History Month, the Kelly Initiative and the de Young paired up to invite creatives across fields to share a sketch inspired by Kelly and his designs. Here, Kibwe Chase-Marshall, cofounder of the Kelly Initiative, speaks with designer Robert Escalera about his sketch and Kelly’s legacy.

sketch of two women with block letters saying "I <3 Patrick"

Tell us about the medium you selected to create your sketch; what informed that decision?

For this illustration, I used fountain pen and ink, wax crayon, colored pencils, and Sharpie marker on A3 paper. I deliberately chose to keep it very naive and colorful—not unlike my impression of Patrick Kelly’s work.

Describe the garments you chose to sketch; does your sketch depict an archival Kelly piece, an evolution of one of his signature looks, or a creation that is purely of your own design?

The first look was inspired by Patrick Kelly's signature bike-racing cap. The second look—wearing one of those caps—is a contemporary take on his affinity for tube dressing embellished with buttons.

Describe your relationship with the enduring legacy of Patrick Kelly; what have Mr. Kelly’s style and story meant to you?

I remember that he had a store-in-store in Macy’s, and I definitely remember his clothes from Barneys. My friend that worked there said that Patrick was always so nice and that the store was always excited to order him because they would get 100 percent sell-throughs on the clothes.

Robert Escalera headshot

Robert Escalera

A native of New York’s Lower East Side, Robert Escalera’s eye for style and talent for illustration took him from studying in the halls of Parsons School of Design to dressing the windows of legendary downtown fashion outpost Big Drop and consulting as a designer for high-influence European brands. Currently enjoying a moment of full-circle alignment in the City of Lights, he splits his time between producing highly sought-after fine-art drawings and teaching illustration at Parsons Paris. @roberte64

Kibwe Chase-Marshall

Kibwe Chase-Marshall cut his professional teeth as an apparel designer, working within the studios of some of 7th Avenue's most influential brands (Michael Kors, Isaac Mizrahi, Gap Inc.), before carving out a space in the editorial community as a contributing writer and market editor (Town & Country, Paper, Elle.com). Since 2018, he has diligently operated as an equity advocate, most recently cofounding the Kelly Initiative, a four-point, industry-evolving plan to increase access to opportunities for Black fashion professionals. @byanyseamnecessary


Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love is on view at the de Young museum from October 23, 2021 to April 24, 2022.

See all Creative Notions posts.