Pat Cleveland for Fashion Designer Naeem Khan, New York Fashion Week, Feb 2019
I'm So excited to share this article with everyone. Thanks to all my Friends and Family for your prayers, thoughts and contributions to Miss Pat Cleveland.
Pat Cleveland’s Fashion Family Came Through
When the model was rushed to a Paris hospital last week for emergency cancer surgery, designers, photographers and other industry friends rallied to raise more than $100,000 for her treatment.
Though “The Devil Wears Prada” may have been unintentionally documentary, not every viper pit cliché about fashion and its affiliates holds true. The loopy, fragile and gifted individuals who populate that world also often operate as an extended family, albeit a loose-knit and occasionally dysfunctional one. Seldom is this more evident than when trouble befalls one of their own.
Such is the case with Pat Cleveland, 68, a superstar model celebrated for her catwalk swirls, her irrepressible spirit and her occasionally dotty New Age pronouncements. Not long after a stellar Marchappearance in a Tommy Hilfiger show during Paris Fashion Week, Ms. Cleveland returned to France from her home in southern New Jersey— she and her husband, the former model Paul Van Ravenstein, raise peacocks there — to film a L’Oréal ad with her daughter, Anna Cleveland, also a model, and was taken ill.
A doctor at Le Meurice hotel prescribed pain relievers for what were thought to be ordinary stomach complaints and suggested she check back with him in the morning. By then her condition had worsened, and she was advised to check herself into the American Hospital of Paris immediately.
“The doctor there said, ‘We just got you in time,’” Mr. Van Ravenstein said this week in a Skype call from the French capital, where Ms. Cleveland is recovering from emergency surgery for colon cancer. “She could have died.”
Because the model’s basic Medicare coverage did not encompass treatment outside the United States, Mr. Van Ravenstein said, the couple was abruptly confronted with staggering medical costs. “We’re normal people, and it’s not like we have huge funds,” he said. “I was talking to friends, and they said we should do a GoFundMe, that it’s absolutely normal these days.”
Establishing a page on the crowd funding platform on March 31, Mr. Van Ravenstein soon found himself overwhelmed by the generosity of Ms. Cleveland’s extended fashion family and the alacrity with which it rushed to her assistance. “The response has been incredible,” he said.
With donations ranging from $5 to $10,000, the GoFundMe drive raised more than $100,000 in two days toward a projected goal of $150,000. Funds flowed in from family, friends, fans and a donor list that reads like a Who’s Who of fashion: the designers Anna Sui, Kim Jones, Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen, Thierry Mugler, Kimora Lee Simmons and Elsa Peretti; the models Carla Bruni, Helena Christensen, Marisa Berenson, Marpessa Hennink and Lineisy Montero; the photographers Inez van Lamsweerde, Vinoodh Matadin, Roxanne Lowit and Steven Klein; the stylists Patti Wilson, Frans Ankone and Katie Grand; and the D.J.s Mia Moretti, Marjorie Gubelmann and Michel Gaubert.
Acknowledging that the industry is not renowned for its charity, Mr. Van Ravenstein said that when it came to his wife’s illness, “people said, ‘Look, this is our sister, our Pat. We have to help her.’ She has touched a lot of lives in her career.”
And it is true that in the five decades since a Vogue editor spotted an 18-year-old Ms. Cleveland on a subway platform, fascinated by her style, and recommended that she sign with Wilhelmina Models as one of the first African-American beauties to join a major agency, she has remained a constant and often jubilant presence in the industry, a favorite of artists, photographers and designers alike.
Antonio Lopez drew her. Karl Lagerfeld danced with her on the cafe tables of Paris. Halston considered her first among his so-called “Halstonettes.” The photographers Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin and Steven Meisel all immortalized her on film.
“She is the all-timer superstar model,” André Leon Talley, the longtime Vogue eminence, once wrote of Cleveland, adding, with typical hyperbole, that in her heyday she was considered “the Josephine Baker of the international runways.”
Before her recent illness, that heyday could be said to have extended to the present since, in recent years, Ms. Cleveland experienced a substantial late-life comeback, finding herself cast for a many runway shows besides Mr. Hilfiger’s and hired to star in advertisements, including the one she was scheduled to shoot for L’Oréal before her emergency hospitalization.
“It was a total shock because we’re vegans, we don’t drink, we don’t smoke, we live in the country and feed our peacocks,” Mr. Van Ravenstein said, adding that Ms. Cleveland’s doctors are expected to release her from the hospital this week so that she can return to the United States for chemotherapy.
“She’s doing well, she’s strong and she’s going to beat this,” he said. “And already she’s thinking about using this as a platform to talk publicly about the uninsured girls in the business that don’t have the backup that she has.”
“Or course, she feels the passion and concern and heartfelt support she’s gotten is beautiful,” he added. “But she also knows that not everybody is so lucky.”