BETHANN HARDISON & PATRICK ROBINSON

BETHANN HARDISON & PATRICK ROBINSON

FADE IN:

INT. INDOCHINE, ASTOR PLACE, NEW YORK CITY – EARLY AFTERNOON

The staff at Indochine, New York City’s iconic downtown restaurant on Lafayette Street, are prepping for dinner service. Deliveries are being made while a bartender cuts lemon slices for the upcoming evening. BETHANN HARDISON enters, and walks to a booth in middle of the room, where she removes her coat.

CUT TO:

The restaurant’s front door opens and PATRICK ROBINSON sees BETHANN across the room. He waves, and makes his way to the booth. The friends greet each other with hugs. They slide into the booth and take a seat. A waiter appears and takes their order: coffee.

PATRICK
Indochine is just the coolest place. Not obnoxious, just cool. Anyone can come here, get a table, and run into friends.

BETHANN
The mood and vibes here are just as good now as they were when the restaurant first opened.

PATRICK
The last time I saw you you were sitting right here with Iman. I came over and gave you both a kiss.

BETHANN
That’s right.

PATRICK
And we’ve been trying to get together ever since. You look fabulous.

BETHANN
Oh, stop it.

PATRICK
You do! You have to give me your secret to the fountain of youth before we leave here today. Your skin looks so healthy, and you don’t need any makeup. I am New York City pale.

BETHANN
You look exactly the same! I’ll never forget when I first met you.

PATRICK
It was 32 years ago.

BETHANN
At the Anne Klein show debuting your first collection for the brand.

PATRICK
I was 28.

BETHANN
And your sister —

PATRICK
Deborah —

BETHANN
Introduced us. She and I had met at the modeling agency she worked at in San Francisco when I was there scouting. Deborah knew who I was, and happily offered to help me with anything I needed.

PATRICK
She was in love with you, following you around.

BETHANN
I attended her wedding, but you didn’t.

PATRICK
I’ve missed a lot of family get-togethers.

BETHANN
They were really hoping you’d come. I met your dad for the first time that night.

PATRICK
You know the whole crew.

BETHANN
I also know the story of how he raised you.

PATRICK
When I was 17 years old, I decided I would get as far away from Los Angeles as I possibly could without leaving the country. I remember arriving in New York for college, and thinking: Where am I, what has happened to my life — it’s so cold! But I never went back.

BETHANN
Your father said he wouldn’t financially support you, too.

PATRICK
When Dad says something, he means it. He challenged me. I worked three jobs.

BETHANN
Isn’t that amazing?

PATRICK
That is, I think, the gift and inspiration that one gives to others. I still have a really strong outlook on life in that way, that you have to go out and do something.

BETHANN
But you may not know that when you’re in the midst of the chaos of life.

PATRICK
Flopping around.

BETHANN
Yeah, just basically doing what other people say you’re supposed to do.

PATRICK
I was thinking about that on my walk over here. Life should be about taking risks, and doing whatever you want to do, which is something you’ve embraced. You don’t run where everyone else is running. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’ve admired that about you for a long time. I’m jealous of it, too.

BETHANN
When I was growing up, I didn’t want to be anything, unlike most kids I knew who wanted to be a singer, or a doctor, or something major. In the 60s, I had the calling to be a revolutionary, but I never wanted to do something that would make me a conformist. My career occurred because of luck. People say I’m ambitious, but I’m not. Yes, I had a successful modeling agency that was hot and all that, but if something is put in front of me, I handle it. It’s about doing something, and doing it well.

PATRICK
That’s a big message, and I think how people want to live their lives but are afraid to.

BETHANN
The more I live my life, the more I appreciate it.

PATRICK
Sometimes, when I call you to say “hi,” you’ll say, “I’m going climb into bed and spend the whole day relaxing.” That’s what life’s all about!

BETHANN
Keep it easy, keep it simple — which is hard to do in a city, and why I have my houses in Mexico and upstate New York. I feel very blessed to have ventured out.

PATRICK
I hope to be laying in a hammock and sipping tequila alongside you someday soon.

BETHANN
It makes me happy to hear that you appreciate my lifestyle. I want to talk about how you found a new path in your career.

PATRICK
It’s funny — I believe I came across it because of my curiosity, the madness in my head. I’ve taken on crazy jobs and have been offered interesting opportunities — and I’ve said “no” to a lot. My biggest accomplishment was in helping to turn around Gap, where I managed a worldwide team and worked with the board of directors to change the company. But once I left Gap, I felt like a part of my soul was missing. I lost my passion and curiosity, and stopped designing while everyone else was having all the fun. Then I saw the industry change, and was no longer fascinated with having or creating stuff. At the time, the mentality in the industry was very masculine, in the sense of conquering something and not listening to anyone. It’s now just switched to a new feminine world, which is so much more accepting and believes in a better future.

BETHANN
I agree with that.

PATRICK
Then I saw the opportunity to start Paskho, a brand with a story [about clothing that inspires the wearer to travel], which I had initially pitched as a television show. I was planning on making clothes on the side for myself. I think the world would be an amazing place if we all just followed our passions — and you and I have both done that. You’ve taught me that there’s no one to stop us from living our lives the way we want to but ourselves.

BETHANN
It’s so true. We’re responsible for our own journey, and what you’ve done with Paskho is great. You understand fashion, and know that it’s not a machine.

PATRICK
It needs to be overhauled.

BETHANN
There’s nothing about fashion that I’ve loving anymore.

PATRICK
It’s shocking how slowly the industry has been to adapt to change.

BETHANN
Especially in regard to including diverse models in ad campaigns, magazines and runways. I wrote a letter to the four Councils of Fashion — New York, London, Paris, and Milan — that discussed designers’ practice of lacking diversity, and calling them out for their fault. For example, Céline, a fantastic company that everyone loves, casted five girls, but only one was very ethnic. It’s been a constant battle, something I’ve been fighting for decades.

PATRICK
I like that you write people notes. Sometimes I think it helps, but also don’t think that the lack of diverse models is done intentionally. There’s so much diversity in America, which is easy for us to notice because we see the world differently.

BETHANN
You, as a designer, know that it matters.

PATRICK
I’ve always looked at it from the perspective of needing to tell different stories from different people. It’s fascinating, and forces me to create something for various types of personalities in a distinct way. That’s my craziness, and how I see the world. When I walk down the street, I’m like: Wow, wow, wow! I want to bring what I see on the streets to life.

BETHANN
But when a designer works for a company, they can’t always do that because they’re afraid of how it will affect sales. Were there casting directors when you first started?

PATRICK
Oh, yeah.

BETHANN
Casting directors didn’t exist when I started my agency. We were king and in control. No one told the designers what to do — they just followed their own vibe.

PATRICK
The casting directors I hire work with my vision. I find it a shame if we’re not looking for diverse models.

BETHANN
If the consumer doesn’t relate to who they’re seeing in fashion, then it just cancels out everything we’re trying to change.

PATRICK
Some brands aren’t doing as well as they once had, and don’t understand why. It’s because the consumer isn’t interested!

BETHANN
Retailers have to find a new way to survive, like the see-now, buy-now model.

PATRICK
My good friend Donna Karan has been advocating for see-now, buy-now for 15 years, and no one has listened to her. Until recently, designers had been showing clothes to editors, instead of going straight to the consumer.

BETHANN
Why exclude the people who actually like the clothes?

PATRICK
It’s so bonkers. But that’s where Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 show during New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 made sense.

BETHANN
Right.

PATRICK
It was a fashion forward hour-long entertainment production at Madison Square Garden that he opened to fans and industry people.

BETHANN
A New York Post reporter asked me if I was going to Kanye’s show, and I said, “No, I’m not going. At the end of the day, he’s not part of the industry, and I don’t need to see what he’s doing.” I like him and everything — he always casts diverse models — but come on. Then, the reporter wrote that I said, “Anyone who goes to the Kanye West show is a fool,” and “He has enough money.” I am honest, and always speak what’s on my mind, but no one ever misquotes me.

PATRICK
Honesty — which, to me, is about speaking up and believing in oneself — is rare. You’ve always stayed true to who you are, and have never frayed.

BETHANN
I’m glad you know that.

PATRICK
I’ve always had deep admiration for you. How could someone not?

BETHANN
I’ve always adored you.

PATRICK
You still haven’t told me the secrets to life, though. And I’m not leaving until I get them — or a tequila shot, at least!

CREDITS

Photography byPJ SPANIOL III

Conversation moderated byANTHONY ROTUNNO

Special thanks INDOCHINE

Patrick Robinson is the New York City-based designer behind Paskho.
Bethann Hardison is an activist based in New York City.

Did you see? Designer Heron Preston takes The Thick Questionnaire, San Francisco Ballet Company’s Corps de Ballet member Kimberly Marie Olivier on breaking boundaries.

THE END