Patrick Robinson, the black designer who inspired intriguing power suits of Giorgio Armani and Anne Klein

Stephen Nartey May 16, 2023
Patrick Robinson/Photo credit: Patrick Robinson via LinkenIn

Patrick Robinson is held in high regard by many fashion critics and fans as a towering figure who breathed fresh life into captivating designs in the 1990s. He is the brain behind many sportswear designs for some American and European global giants and was also the nerve center of Giorgio Armani’s power suits that were adorned by several top celebrities.

Robinson began making waves with his unique design which gave design house Anne Klein an edge in the market. But prior to joining the New York-based design agency, it had lost its position as the preferred clothing line for celebrities and fashion enthusiasts. Its line of designs had become stale in the eyes of its followers. This was happening at a time when its top designer Richard Tyler had been sacked by the management of Anne Klein. Though it offered an opportunity for Robinson who was then 28 to showcase his talent, it also placed an enormous burden on him to deliver in a competitive market.

Robinson was made the head of design at Anne Klein and the expectation was for him to salvage the design house from its record-low sales to a new sensation on the market. He wasn’t the youngest to have been given such a position at Anne Klein. In 1973, Donna Karan, who was then 26, was made the head designer at the New York-based firm. Though the first few months were challenging for Robinson, before he turned 30 he had taken over the market by storm, proving those who doubted his ability wrong. When the owners of Anne Klein decided to sell the design house, he decided it was time to chart his own path, according to

The individual who enabled him to make his entry into the fashion world helped him secure a deal with a clothing manufacturer who was willing to supply him with the resources he needed. Opening a clothing line under his own name, Robinson began generating a buzz among fashion fanatics and celebrities.

But his path to success in the fashion world is not really surprising, having grown up in a fashion-conscious family where they subscribed to every magazine and had a collection at their library. Born in 1996 in Memphis, Robinson grew up in a wealthy neighborhood in Los Angeles. His father, who was a doctor, ensured he had a good education, getting Robinson schooled in Fullerton before he worked part-time at the Nordstrom department store at the Cerritos mall as a teen. Aside from working at the store, Robinson also had his eyes on surfing and later developed his own line of surfwear.

His passion to go into the fashion world was nurtured by a film he watched featuring actors such as Calvin Klein and Jeffrey Banks. Since having an interest wasn’t enough to begin his journey, he enrolled at the distinguished Parsons School of Design in New York City and also gained extra tuition from the American College in Paris.

While studying the theories of fashion, he started an internship with young African-American designer Patrick Kelly and after completing his education, he applied for a job with design houses Albert Nippon and Herman Geist. It was after his stint with them which later helped him to secure a job with Italian designer Giorgio Armani for his bridge line, Le Collezioni. Black designer Robinson would move to Anne Klein before launching his own line in 1997 after signing a deal with Italian manufacturer, Coba.

To date, Robinson is considered a colossus in the fashion world because of the revolution he brought to the scene in the 1990s.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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