Walking with the Muses: A Memoir

Walking with the Muses: A Memoir

by Pat Cleveland


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An exciting account of the international adventures of fashion model Pat Cleveland—one of the first black supermodels during the wild sixties and seventies.

“Taking her reader through fifty years of fashion from the intersection of the Civil Rights Movement, the disco era's decadence, and the grandeur of Hollywood’s late 70s renaissance, Cleveland provides a glimpse at some of design’s most important moments—and her own personal history.” —Vogue

“Pat Cleveland is to fashion what Billie Holiday is to the blues; a muse for all ages.” —Essence

Chronicling of the glamorous life and adventures of Pat Cleveland—one of the first black supermodels—this compelling memoir evokes the bohemian lifestyle and creative zeitgeist of 1970s New York City and features some of today’s most prominent names in fashion, art, and entertainment as they were just gaining their creative footage.

New York in the sixties and seventies was glamorous and gritty at the same time, a place where people like Warhol, Avedon, and Halston as well as their muses came to pursue their wildest ambitions, and when the well began to run dry they darted off to Paris. Though born on the very fringes of this world, Patricia Cleveland, through a combination of luck, incandescent beauty, and enviable style, soon found herself in the center of all that was creative, bohemian, and elegant. A “walking girl,” a runway fashion model whose inimitable style still turns heads on the runways of New York, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo, Cleveland was in high demand.

Ranging from the streets of New York to the jet-set beaches of Mexico, from the designer drawing rooms of Paris to the offices of Vogue, here is Cleveland’s larger-than-life story. One minute she’s in a Harlem tenement making her own clothes and dreaming of something bigger, the next she’s about to walk Halston’s show alongside fellow model Anjelica Huston. One minute she’s partying with Mick Jagger and Jack Nicholson, the next she’s sharing the dance floor next to a man with stark white hair, an artist the world would later know as Warhol. In New York, she struggles to secure her first cover of a major magazine. In Paris, she’s the toast of the town. And through the whirlwind of it all, she is forever in pursuit of love, truth, and beauty in this “riveting, celeb-drenched account of her astonishing life in fashion” (Simon Doonan, author of The Asylum).

Editorial Reviews

former Editor-at-Large for Vogue magazine - Andre Leon Talley

"How wonderful Pat Cleveland titled her memoirs, Walking with the Muses. She is the timeless muse; that unique and rare spirit, that continues to inspire throughout the ages. A life worthy of admiration-not only for its almost fairy-tale like adventures through New York when it was at one of its creative peaks, Paris at its wildest, the beaches of the Mediterranean and the tombs of Egypt, Pat's story is one that will make you believe that if you put it in the universe, even your most outrageous dreams can come true: you can meet anyone you want, be anyone you want, love anyone you want."

author of The Asylum: Tales of Madness From a Life in Fashion - Simon Doonan

All the creativity, madness and magic that Pat Cleveland brought to the runway, she has now poured into this riveting, celeb-drenched account of her astonishing life in fashion.

Publishers Weekly

★ 06/27/2016
Cleveland was one of the first prominent African-American fashion models, and in this wonderfully written memoir she offers great insight into the fashion world, as well as glimpses of her own dramatic life off the runway. This friendly, conversational memoir chronicles her rise to international prominence from humble beginnings. Raised in a small New York City apartment, Cleveland developed a deep love for her mother, who imbued her with her love for wearing and designing beautiful clothes, but their connection was disrupted by Cleveland's abusive stepfather. Escaping her home life, Cleveland quickly became a working model and appeared in Vogue and Ebony, opportunities that brought her into close contact with celebrities such as Muhammad Ali and would eventually lead to Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol considering her a muse. But Cleveland's life was far from charmed, as she illustrates in her frank discussions of sexual assault—of both her and others around her—as well as her experiences with anti-black racism, both personal and systemic. Some readers will be particularly interested in her discussion of Bill Cosby, but Cleveland is the real star of her own story of passion, strength, and elegance above all. Agents: Becky Sweren and David Kuhn, Kuhn Projects. (June)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501108235
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 08/01/2017
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 1,252,109
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Walking with the Muses
Born smack in the middle of the middle of the twentieth century (June 1950), I’m like millions of other baby boomers in that some of my most formative experiences have occurred inside a darkened movie theater. Like falling in love for the first time.

At some point around my sixth birthday, my mom began taking me to matinees at the RKO 86th Street Theatre, a slightly musty old movie palace roughly eleven blocks due south of our tenement apartment on the edge of Spanish Harlem. There, warm and toasty in winter and blessedly cool in New York’s steamy summers, the two of us would sit, arms entwined, sharing popcorn and Raisinets, and stare transfixed at the big screen through hours of previews and double features (two movies for a buck—seventy-five cents for Mom and a quarter for my child’s ticket). Whatever new fare Hollywood served up, Mom and I would be there most Saturday afternoons to devour it.

For me, the only child of a single mother, male role models were in short supply, so my template for the ideal man was forged right there on that screen. Charlton Heston. Rock Hudson. Tony Curtis. And then one day a movie star came along who wiped all the others off the map: Warren Beatty. Mom and I went to see Splendor in the Grass the week it was released in October 1961. I didn’t know it then, but our days of blissful moviegoing—just Mom and me, together in the dark—were nearing their end because she’d recently married a soldier from Georgia who would radically curtail her outings. I was eleven and Warren, who was making his screen debut in the male lead, was twenty-four. From the moment he appeared on-screen, as the rich Kansas high school football star Bud Stamper who’s in love with the town’s good girl, Deanie Loomis (played by an incandescent Natalie Wood), I was a goner. I couldn’t have explained the effect he had on me—I was only eleven, after all, and until then I’d never experienced that thrill of pure longing for the opposite sex—but I knew instantly: We were destined to be together. Later that day, at home in my bedroom, I daydreamed freely. Patricia Beatty. Mrs. Warren Beatty. I tried out the name in my mouth a few times. I practiced writing it in my fanciest script. It was meant to be.

Imagine, then, the inner frenzy that descended when, fourteen years later, I spotted Warren in the flesh at the opening of an exhibition of photographs by Richard Avedon at a tony Fifty-Seventh Street gallery, an event attended by a who’s who of prominent New Yorkers ranging from Andy Warhol to Norman Mailer. By then I had traveled all over the world as a model, met more boldface names than I could count (and bedded a few of them), and become friends with some of the most creative people of the time (including Warhol, who ended up being one of my wingmen that night). But when Warren Beatty walks in, even the most blasé girl in the world gets weak in the knees—not that I was that girl, anyway. I instantly reverted to the eleven-year-old from Spanish Harlem crushing on the movie star.

As it turned out, my feeble preadolescent fantasies never even came close to conjuring the awesomeness that was Warren. The actual man was so much more beautiful, more sensitive, more talented, more intelligent, more . . . well, good in bed than the dream lover who’d lived in my imagination. Our on-and-off affair, which lasted six years in all, was an unforgettable chapter in my life—a life that’s been filled with despair and triumph, sickness and health, heartbreak and joy, lust and true love, and loads and loads of fun.

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