What can I say about my friend Alexander Patino? He’s one of a kind. He’s the type of person you need in your life, the type of person that encourages you to laugh, and have a good time. Regarding fashion, he is by far the most passionate person that I know, and he shares such great knowledge in that field as he transforms his thoughts and opinions into words. Patino has recently launched his personal website, PatinoBlog.com, and I thought this would be a perfect time for a feature on such an incredibly gifted fashion writer.
Daniel: When did you first get into fashion? Is it something you went to school for?
Alexander: It honestly did kind of fall into my lap. I studied English at the University of Florida and moved straight to New York with the grand hopes of skyrocketing my way to the top of Random House or Penguin – I wanted to be an editor of fiction. But, I also wanted to try my hand at writing and an old acquaintance from high school put me in touch with Qianna Smith from FashionQandA.com. I had no published material to my name at that point, so she gave me a chance with some trial pieces – just to see if I even had a knack for fashion writing. Turns out I did.
Daniel: When did you discover your talent was capable of taking you to the next level?
Alexander: I’m not there yet. I definitely know a lot more than when I first started, but I’m not so haughty as to think that I’m a Cathy Horyn or a Hilary Alexander. I definitely plan to get there one day, but it takes time. People of their caliber have been going at this for 20+ years. But I don’t plan on ditching this fashion realm anytime soon, so perhaps one day I’ll qualify.
Daniel: What are your main influences?
Alexander: Roger Ebert has always been a huge influence on me. Film was my first passion, even before I found books, or fashion. The way he analyses movies – how he manages to find deeper truths, the way he enlightens readers on seemingly obscure details has always fascinated me and I’ve always held on to that framework. It works just as well in fashion. Music in general helps me to write as well. I will actively sync the look and feel of a collection to a song that matches the mood and it helps me to move on. Does that sound incredibly strange? I’ve been doing that for years now. Even with my reading. Music helps me to process images and thoughts. I like everything to have its own soundtrack. To this day I can’t listen to Aaliyah without conjuring images of Memoirs of a Geisha (the novel) in my head. I’m a weirdo.
Daniel: What do you think defines fashion?
Alexander: I’m a bit ambivalent about this kind of question because – well, I guess my answer is double-edged. I obviously have a pretty concrete notion of what fashion is, but other people, in defining fashion for themselves … frustrate me. Fashion is what you make of it – hence why we have thousands upon thousands of artists who call themselves fashion designers. But, and that’s a big ‘but’ – some things just can’t be thrown around in conversation without a measure of caution. People who use ‘couture’ in place of ‘fierce’ exasperate me. When a Real Housewife of Orange County calls a bedazzled pump ‘couture’ – I just want to slap somebody. How dare they? We all have our pet peeves.
Daniel: Name your top 5 favorite designers of all time in order.
Alexander: I can’t. I can honestly say that Nicolas Ghesquiere’s work for Balenciaga literally changed my life. That was the spark for me. There was no way I wasn’t going to write about the collections he shells out for the house. I know that he’s my favorite, but I can’t set up any kind of hierarchy of best to least best. I’ll just tell you the ones I love most.
Daniel: Do you prefer to set aside time to write, or do you just write as you get inspired?
Alexander: I’m a pretty disciplined guy when it comes to managing my time for writing, but in terms of the content’s worth – it is usually best when it’s fueled by pure inspiration.
Daniel: What do you think is the coolest trend or style going in fashion right now?
Alexander: Men in skirts. Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci is not letting this idea just go by the wayside. This needs to infiltrate the mainstream pronto.
Daniel: You recently launched your personal site, PatinoBlog.com. Can you tell us what it’s all about?
Alexander: My heart is out on the runway. Ever since I got my first taste of the Fashion Week catwalk way back when, I’ve been hooked and the fervor hasn’t died down one bit. I’ve been reviewing collections for years and figured, why not do it my own way? On a more personal level without being afraid to step on anyone’s toes. The point is not to ruffle feathers. I just want to relay what I see, give readers insight into my own personal associations. For all intents and purposes, I would call it the RogerEbert.com for fashion collections. It’s my forum where I get to share the fashion love.
Daniel: In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of running your own entity online?
Alexander: Everyone hears that fashion moves fast, but there’s no real way to convey to those who don’t work in the business how speedy everything actually is. That’s also the best thing about fashion – there’s always something to talk or write about every single day. You’re never for a lack of material. But keeping up can be a mean sonofabitch.
Daniel: What is the main idea you try to communicate through your writing?
Alexander: I’m always very much in my own head whenever I write, whether it’s on PatinoBlog.com or any other venue. I can only hope that someone can relate. Experiencing a runway show up close is one thing and having someone say that they can relate to your writing, that they look forward to the next piece – that’s something else altogether. They’re both thrilling. I’m always just communicating my own thoughts. I’m a bit inflexible in that regard. Then again, what else can a writer do?
Daniel: You’ve interviewed so many legends in the fashion industry. Are you planning to do interviews on PatinoBlog.com as well?
Alexander: Yeah, eventually I think I will. One step at a time though. I’ve just launched and right now I’m just concentrating on dissecting the runway for my readers and giving them full galleries of the shows I cover. When I was at Fashion Q&A I was the lead interviewer and it became my forte during my tenure there, but that’s not what PatinoBlog is about right now. All in due time.
Daniel: If you could interview anyone right now, who would it be and why?
Alexander: Guinevere Van Seenus. She’s my favorite model of all time. She’s never taken a bad picture in her whole life. She’s been a muse for so many wonderful artists, but I’ve yet to come across a single interview with her. I was pushing to interview her at a magazine I was contributing for earlier last year, but for some reason they weren’t so keen on it. Lo and behold, three months later Vogue had a tiny feature on her new jewelry line. But she deserves something much bigger and better than that. She’s a bonafide fashion icon. Then again, if I actually did get to interview her, I’d probably spontaneously combust. She’s a goddess.
Daniel: Which websites/blogs do you browse daily?
Alexander: I read Style.com on a daily basis. That’s a guarantee. I couldn’t talk about the other sites I go to in this interview.
Daniel: If you could choose any three things to get for free what would you choose?
1) A brownstone on Perry St. all for myself.
2) The entire Louis Vuitton SS12 menswear collection (A collection is one thing)
3) World Peace
Daniel: Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years?
Alexander: I plan to master French within five years. All I can say is that one day I will live in Paris, in La Rive Gauche, working happily as an ex-pat fashion editor. It’s in the cards for me without a doubt.