#QueerHeroes Day 5.
Patrick Kelly was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1954. His mother was a home economics teacher and he learned to sew in his teenage years.
After graduating high school, he moved from Mississippi to Atlanta, where he worked in a thrift shop. He began modifying the donated designer fashions and constructing pieces of his own, which he sold outside his store within a beauty salon.
He became a favorite designer of Black supermodel Pat Cleveland. She encouraged him to move to Paris, which he eventually did.
It wasn’t long before Kelly became one of the city’s premiere fashion designers, becoming the first American EVER admitted to Fédération française de la couture, du prêt-à-porter des couturiers et des créateurs de mode—the governing fashion body for all of Paris fashion.
Every celebrity from Bette Davis to Grace Jones to Madonna to Cicely Tyson became clients of his. He held runway shows at the Louvre.
Kelly was just about to reach his peak, developing lingerie, perfume, and menswear lines before he was diagnosed with AIDS.
He died in 1990 at only 35 years old. He’s buried in his beloved Paris today.