Patrick Cox.

From celebrity cobbler in London to medicine man in Ibiza, Patrick Cox takes us on the ultimate trip.

I met Patrick Cox at a party in Mallorca in 2000, at the height of his career as a shoe designer. We hit it off immediately and started hanging out back in London. I took Patrick to gay clubs – until then he’d partied pretty much exclusively on the straight scene – and he introduced me to his rock-star friends. We did the Oscars with David and Elton, dined with the Le Bons, danced with Mick Jagger and hung out with Janet Jackson and Farah Fawcett at the Vanity Fair Party, Patrick being one of the few guests allowed a plus-one.  

After some time I retreated from the party scene in search of something more meaningful. Japanese Buddhism, kundalini yoga, five-element acupuncture, African retreats, the Hoffman Process  – you name it, in those years I tried it – all of which were anathema to Patrick. We still saw each other from time to time and worked in the same building in Chelsea for a while, but only stayed in touch sporadically after I moved back to Madrid at the end of 2005.

At the height of his fame, Patrick Cox had stores across the globe and sold a million pairs of his iconic Wannabe loafers in a year. But following a series of disasters involving investors, overexpansion, problems with factories in Italy – even the mafia – by 2007, he’d not only lost his business but the use of his name. A decade-long breakdown ensued. Then he moved to Ibiza where the stars aligned and he discovered the healing power of Toad.

So how was your summer?
I didn’t get up to a lot, by choice. When people talk about my life in Ibiza, they ask if I get lonely. The answer is no. I actively choose solitude. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in Ibiza it was to say no. Because before – you know me – I said yes to pretty well everything, before people finished the sentence I’d be saying yes. Now I say no, I don’t want to do that.  


Do you still travel a lot?
I’ve only left the island a handful of times this year – two quick trips to London, one of them a trunk show for my new brand, Doors of Perception Ibiza. Every summer, I go to David and Elton’s house in the South of France, a tradition since they bought that house in 1996. It was great as that was basically a family holiday for me, them with their kids and Elizabeth Hurley and her kid.  It was just easy. The other two times were when I gave talks on psychedelics at Soho House in Berlin and Amsterdam.

Elizabeth Hurley Doors of Perception Ibiza
Doors of Perception Ibiza Radiating Eye sweat pants

We’ll come back to psychedelics and Doors of Perception but first, I love that you left London for Ibiza.
I’ve been coming to Ibiza since 1991, always in the south and always off my face. You know what it’s like, having a week-long holiday and then going back to London shaking and grey. That was my definition of fun back then – nothing against it but I stopped going in 2005 as I didn’t really party like that anymore, dancing all the way from Space to DC10 and back again. Then in 2015, some of my straight married friends started buying houses here in the north. Instead of partying they were doing yoga and eating healthy food and I’d visit them and think wow, I never knew this existed! I’d never been north of San José – I never even went to Santa Gertrudis let alone all the way north to San Juan. So I had a very warped, drug-oriented vision of Ibiza. And I thought, I like this other version. I could move here. 


So what led to the move?
I lost the name Patrick Cox in 2007. I had a midlife crisis and opened a cupcake shop in 2010 called Cox, Cookies & Cake. The following year, I was asked to work for the Italian company, Geox, so I closed the cake shop and did that for five years. It got me falsely excited: ooh, I’m gonna be a shoe designer again! Geox was a massive company and I was giving them all of this work, but they were only producing around ten percent so in 2015, I decided to launch Lathbridge (my middle name) as I had all of these great ideas. But it’s not just about a great idea, anymore. Well if I didn’t like my career when I was rocking it, king of the world, I certainly didn’t like it when I was a nobody, saying here, like my little shoes, trying to get people to care. I’d made all these vows to myself of things I’d never do again and as soon as I started Lathbridge, all those vows went out the window. I did it for five seasons and then in January 2017, I showed at Paris fashion week and thought, even if it goes well, I don’t want this. I got back to London in February, delivered Spring and then sent an email to all customers that we would not be delivering winter. I wanted a complete change of life.

How did you find your house?
I came to Ibiza secretly that March and saw 22 properties in three days. The agent was like, you’re relentless! Honey, I’m not here to go to dinner – I’m here to see properties! I had all these ideas about what I wanted and where I wanted to be on the island and at the end of the third day, I thought, I guess I’m not moving to Ibiza. She said, let me show you this last one, my wild card – what I would buy if I was looking to buy a place in Ibiza. It was a completely illegal project just outside of Santa Gertrudis with a spectacular view and I thought, this is it.  


Was it liveable?
The house was completely unlivable – an abandoned, half-built house with a tear-down order on an illegal plot. But the broker told me there were three other plots for sale and if I bought them all, around 20,000m2, it would allow me to legally finish and then extend the house. It’s five and a half years later and I still don’t have planning permission to extend but everything is legal. At the moment it’s very small, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, but the overwhelming response at my 60th birthday was why the hell do you want to build a big house? Isn’t this enough? It’s not that I don’t love my little house, it’s just that 90% of my stuff is still in storage in England, so it would be nice to see my antiques and my clothes again. But do I need a six-bedroom house? Not really.

What did your friends say when you told them you were leaving London?
So I had my birthday party at home in Little Venice in March 2017. Everyone was there and at one point I turned off the music and said, everybody! The house you’re in has been sold and I’m moving to Ibiza in three weeks! There was a collective OMG, what is he on. Nobody believed me. After that, they were having this warped tombola, betting on how quickly I’d fail. Someone said two weeks, another said I’d make it through the first winter, which was very kind… very kind of my dear sweet ex friends, most of them.


I remember the day after the closing party at Space, Ibiza got so quiet, so suddenly, tumbleweeds might have rolled down the street. How was that first winter for you?
I don’t know if you remember but I don’t really cook, so to be alone in a field without a place I can get food, is hell. But Santa Gertrudis is open year round as the international school is nearby, so it doesn’t close down on October 1 like all of the other towns on the island.  But when I arrived in September 2017, while I was waiting to complete on my property, I lived in a friend’s house near San José that she only used during the summer. So there I was, in this gorgeous villa on a cliff overlooking Es Vedra but I had to drive 40 minutes for a loaf of bread. Where I am now, I’m 15 minutes from everywhere.

Doors of Perception Ibiza Spiritual Warrior jacket

What do you love about the island?
Ibiza is kind of like Manhattan in the Mediterranean. If you want to pay 50k for a table in the south and do coke off hookers tits, you can; or if you want to be naked and meditate and eat vegan in the north, you can.  You can kind of do whatever you want within a small area. If I had bought a house in Puglia and you visited me from Milan, you’re nowhere near me as Italy is giant and stretched out. But if you land in Ibiza, wherever you are, you’re 15 minutes from me. So I thought most of my friends come here at least once a year, compared to other locations in the world. It just seemed to tick a lot of boxes. It’s two hours from London and you’re still in a ‘city’ environment, but also in the middle of nowhere. Is it where I’ll end up forever? I don’t know. If I go somewhere next it will probably be somewhere with less humans and more animals, like Africa.


I had an idea of what you went through although it wasn’t until I read the story in The Guardian that I realised how tough things got for you.
One thing that has always stuck with me – not sure when it was but we’d already known each other for a while. I said something like I think I’ve been depressed these last few months and you said, darling, you’ve been depressed for the last five years at least. I thought, oh: someone saw through my smokescreen of everything’s great, everything’s great! You were the only person in that whole period of my life that ever said, you’re depressed. At the time I thought you had no idea what you were talking about but of course, I was depressed.

Patrick Cox at home in Ibiza
Doors of Perception Ibiza All Over Eyes
Patrick Cox and English bulldog Titus

What was the breaking point?
There were several breaking points. The big one was losing the company and the use of my name. That’s when I went off the rails, did the Hoffman and then therapy. I used to make fun of mental health, just like I made fun of spirituality and then I realised it was stronger than me.

The second breaking point was moving here. I was ripped off by my architect and my builder and then my younger English bulldog, Brutus, died suddenly. It pushed me over the edge. I hated the island, hated my house.  I called it this motherfucking rock in the middle of the Med, why the fuck did I move here. I was complaining all the time, driving around in my jeep crying. Then one day I was on the phone with Elizabeth Hurley and talked about suicide, crying for the whole call. Unbeknownst to me she reached out to David and Elton. I was driving one day, crying my eyes out and then Elton called with the classic intervention: do you need help? I knew they thought it was drugs, which it wasn’t, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to have the argument again so I just said yes. A private plane came to collect me and my other bulldog, Caesar. He went to stay with David and Elton and I went into rehab in Kent for four weeks.  I argued all day every day and when it came to the end, all of the counsellors showed up just to make sure I was really leaving. They said, we’ve never had anyone like you! It’s been fun but we’re really glad you’re going.

My Buddhist friend, Graham, who I’d known for years had parked the spirituality because he knew I’d just roll my eyes and make fun of him. But he called, by luck, while I was in rehab and told me to stay with him in the Alps as soon as I got out. He said he knew this was on the cards, that I’d been running on empty and pretending. I stayed with him for a week, doing visualisations, meditation, energy work, and I could see it. There was no denying it. He got me to put my hands together and you could see the energy around the hands, and as the hands got closer together, you saw the energy jumping between your fingers. I’d never done anything like that and said what is this??! He said you’re a spiritual being, Patrick. You always have been, you’ve just always denied it.

Eye baseball cap Doors of Perception Ibiza
Doors of Perception Ibiza hats and caps

When did the psychedelics come into play?
Afterwards I came back to Ibiza, to a still half-finished house and still one dead dog. I realised nothing was fixed and thought, well that didn’t work. New friends on the island got me into microdosing LSD but I had to stop as it made my stomach crazy. Then in May 2019, my friend who introduced me to microdosing said there’s a practitioner coming from LA to Ibiza and she serves Toad. Do you want to be part of this? I jumped at the chance.

The Sonoran Desert Toad is a land toad that lives in the Sonoran Desert in the northwest corner of Mexico bordering the US. It has glands on its shoulders and forearms that produce a poison when the toad is threatened by animals. It’s poisonous when ingested but when smoked, the secretion contains the chemical compound 5-MeO-DMT. It’s the strongest psychedelic known to man, otherwise known as ‘the God compound’. We produce it endogenously in our bodies but no one understands why. There’s a theory it facilitates the moment the soul arrives and leaves the body. When people have a near-death experience, the tunnel and the white light and overwhelming sense of wellbeing – that’s Toad.

After taking it my life changed completely. Inhaling it and having my ‘breakthrough’ – nothing in my life fundamentally changed but my perspective on everything changed, and instead of dwelling on the negative it just flipped, like that.  Before, I had a grey filter to my reality. Nothing got through. You could say, here’s a million dollars and I’d say oh, you gave it to me in fifties and I wanted hundreds. Nothing was right. But then, just like that, the negativity was gone. I sat there and thought, was the sky always this blue? Were the trees always this green? I was looking at the wonder and the nature and the creation and thought, how did I not see this?


How did you go from that first session to becoming a practitioner?
People in the psychedelic world don’t call it a drug, they call it ‘the medicine’. I asked the woman from LA if she knew of a practitioner in Ibiza and she said no, you cannot go looking for the medicine, the medicine will present itself. I thought oh my fucking god, I’ve never heard such mumbo jumbo. I don’t even know what this is. I know it comes from a toad in the Sonoran desert in Mexico and I need it but I’m not allowed to ask for it! This is insane.

The following week there was a gay pool party here on the island with some of my friends from London. I had zero desire to be there but something made me get dressed, get out and go – one of the first times I’d gone out since coming out of rehab the year before. I took my English bulldog, Caesar, with me as I never left his side after Brutus died. While I was there, I shook hands with someone and he saw the Caesar tattoo on my wrist. He rolled up his sleeve and he had the same name on his arm. He then called his husband over, a beautiful bald man with a beautiful smile from Columbia, Cesar. Their English bulldog had just died six weeks before. We sat down on the lawn and started talking, the usual questions, how long have you been on the island etc. I said that I hated the place more than anything but two weeks ago, I did this thing called Toad that changed my life. Have you heard of it? He just smiled and said, I serve Toad. That was his job, a toad facilitator and I thought, thank you – there is something bigger going on here. The following week I had my first ceremony with him and then we did ceremony about once a month for a year and a half or so. 


And now you serve ‘the medicine’…
There’s this famous quote, I don’t know who it’s by: “Life is in two acts and it’s all about surviving the intermission.” I felt stuck on the intermission and I couldn’t figure out what to do after being Patrick Cox, millionaire shoe designer. Everything seemed to pale to insignificance to the heights I’d reached and the acclaim I’d had, and I couldn’t figure out what was next.

After about six ceremonies, Cesar said maybe this is what’s next. I’ve seen you – if people talk about fashion or shoes, you get up and walk out of the room. But if we’re talking about psychedelics and mind expansion and wellness then you’re lapping it up, in the middle. Would you consider becoming my apprentice? By this point I’d held space for him a hundred times – he’s doing the ceremony and someone’s having the experience and I’m there holding space, witnessing, helping if needed be – your job is to witness and support, spiritually and emotionally rather than holding their hand.

I spent the next two years apprenticing with him. He knew he was very ill. He hadn’t said it but it became very obvious and then he died in December 2021. Pancreatic cancer for seven years that should have killed him in one. Then I went through this period of not wanting to do Toad ever again as it couldn’t save my friend. And then I thought, Patrick, he left you everything. His accoutrements, his sound bowl, his gong, all his shamanic instruments and some medicine – and I’d promised on his deathbed that I’d continue. This is what’s next – not the glamour life, not being a shoe designer but helping people, which is the most amazing feeling. I used to think that when someone wore my shoes, that was an amazing feeling but when someone sits up after the ceremony and you know their entire world has changed, it’s such a beautiful thing to witness. So I started to serve medicine without Cesar in February 2022.


Ok, now the exciting part. Talk us through the experience of Toad.
It starts with an intake process, with lots of questions about medical history, mental health and previous psychedelic use. Then we start small and build big. We do a microdose, a sub-breakthrough dose and a breakthrough dose, which we call a hug, a handshake and a full embrace. The first one is to familiarise the participant with the taste, the smell, the temperature. It’s in a glass pipe, essentially the same as a crack pipe.  You superheat and vape it, you inhale one long, slow breath and while you’re inhaling you’re already beginning to go. You hold your breath for ten and then exhale and then you lay back – although you wouldn’t even know because you’re already gone.

There’s an incredible feeling of acceleration and expansion, like you’re strapped to the outside of a rocket ship blasting into space. That’s the part people can find scary because it’s so fast and so dramatic and there’s a roaring sound in your ears. You expand to the point where you cease to exist, a 100% ego death. Linguistically you don’t speak English or French or whatever your language is. The concept of language would not make sense anymore. And in that second you cease to exist, you become everything. You return to the Light.  It’s not visual like Ayahuasca or mushrooms, which get really trippy and you see all these things. Most people – and this is a broad statement as there are many experiences – see pure white or pure black. And I say ‘see’ because if you cease to exist, who is seeing what?

The peak experience is over in 10 minutes. You come back into your body and you’re looking around, and I’m there to touch and hold you and let you know you’re ok. If someone said they saw God, I’d probably think they didn’t break through. But if someone said I am God, not in an egotistical way but I’m God, you’re God, everything is God, I’d think they probably broke through. It’s ineffable, it’s indescribable, it’s vast, it’s incomprehensible but it’s reassuring. You finally get to see yourself as you really are. All of that judgement and internal dialogue just goes away. All of it shuts up and its pure love, bliss, acceptance. Instead of having someone tell you, like in rehab or the Hoffman or therapy, Toad shows you.  

For me, my heart just opened and expanded. You have to work at it – it’s not a panacea – and you have to make a conscious decision to live in the Light. But it’s a moment of clarity that will stay with you forever.

Patrick Cox wear the DISCOmbobulated hoodie

And from the psychedelic experience you’ve launched a fashion line, Doors of Perception Ibiza, with the reference to Aldous Huxley.
Well you know the rock group The Doors, they took their name from Huxley’s book, The Doors of Perception. It was complete sixties acid psychedelia, that period!

I’d been serving medicine for 18 months and I’d learnt to love myself. I now speak to my family, who I wasn’t really in touch with. All of these things had fallen into place but I realised that I was still triggered by fashion and shoes and I needed to be at peace with my creativity. I noticed after I moved here that there was no ‘Ibiza’ brand. It was either some version of hippiedom made in India or tourist crap made in China with ‘Beefa’ logos. But there was nothing that represented what I love about Ibiza, the spirituality aspect. I’d had the idea for a while but then thought no, I’m not going to do it. I’d even done the All Over Eye embroidered sweatshirt, the first garment, two and a half years ago because this guy popped up on my Insta feed, who had won embroiderer of the year and I got in touch with him, sent him some sweatshirts and designs and that was that. Then in October 2022, I pushed the button and ordered 80 embroidered sweatshirts. I was planning on launching the following January or February and a friend said, have you ever heard of this thing called Christmas? If you deliver by December 24 I’ll buy five but if you deliver after the 26th I’ll buy one. Oh yeah, Christmas!

So I put them up and Elizabeth did that amazing post on Instagram. I was at her house in Herefordshire for Christmas. I gave her the sweatshirt at 9am, she took a quick photo wearing it upstairs, looking like a goddess, and I went from 80 to 800 followers by the 26th as everyone was at home looking at gorgeous photos of Elizabeth Hurley on their phones. That was the beginning: sweatshirt, a t-shirt and then a baseball cap.  I have nothing to do with factories or minimums, I source garments internationally, in the industry they’re called blanks. They’re delivered to me in Ibiza and I found this lady at the hippy market who embroiders cushions and I showed her my embroidered eye. She embroiders them in Sant Jordi so I can write embroidered with love in ibiza. 


What does a typical work day look like?
I wake up early, meditate and take the dogs for a half-hour walk. Then I open my computer and see what orders came in overnight. I do the packing slips and the invoices and then do the pick and pack at my storage unit in Santa Gertrudis. Then I drive to DHL and drop off the deliveries. I’ll go to the embroiderer and check on anything she might have been working on overnight, then the beach with my dogs – I adopted another rescue dog, a two year old Spanish pointer called Pompeii – where we’ll play and have lunch and might meet someone. Then I go home. It’s not the life I ever had but it’s the life I always wanted. If my shoes had been made in London, life would have been so different for me. You remember, don’t you?  I’d fly to Italy every Monday morning and come back on Friday night. That’s all I did for 25 years. 

This is different. It feels good. And people are understanding what I’m talking about. Some buy it because it has a cool logo. I call it spiritually suffused sportswear and entheogenic apparel or consciousness raising clothing although it’s got more to it. You can ignore that or you can actually ask a question. There will be more about the psychedelics, a toad design, a mushroom design… but it’s in drops; it’s whenever I want;  and only if it makes me happy. There are no seasons. We only have one wholesale client, Agora, the boutique at Six Senses here on the island. It’s not a normal gift shop as they have a whole sustainable policy and they also have Loewe and Chloe. They’re selling like hotcakes, 10-20 hats every week. But no shoes!


So that’s one creative project but there’s also another very big one: My Road to Toad.
Before moving to Ibiza I met a producer – I think it was in some pub on coke – and the next day she called me and said, you have a movie in you. A book at least. I make documentaries. So we had this idea of a working title, Everyone Loves Cox. Then she had health issues and I moved to Ibiza and we didn’t speak for a couple of years. Finally we caught up and she asked if I was ready to pick up with Everyone Loves Cox and I told her what had happened over that past year. There was silence at the other end of the phone… hello, are you still there? She said, sorry, I’m just picking my jaw up off the floor. We can do Everyone Loves Cox later, we have to do this first. Eventually I named the project My Road to Toad, initially a buddy movie with Cesar – me as his apprentice and him my teacher, touching on other themes but getting more current with the move to Ibiza and discovering Toad. When he died, I went off the idea and the producer said the story was always about you. We have an incredible director, Jan Kounen, and we took a teaser of My Road to Toad to Cannes last year, five minutes of me talking to camera. We had an amazing response. 


When does it start?
We’re just closing finance and commence shooting late next year for release in 2025. I’m working on my memoirs too. When I moved here, the idea was to write my memoirs and open an animal sanctuary. The sanctuary is not possible for a thousand practical reasons but since Toad I realised I have a lot to tell people, and share, and that it’s inspiring that someone at the age of 58 can completely change their life. When I did the article with The Guardian, I can’t tell you how many friends called me and said WTF – shut up! You shouldn’t be talking about this. And I thought, why? Isn’t that the point? If one person reads this article and it helps them, that’s why I did the article.


So no mentioning the ‘S’ word but you did just get a whole chapter in the new Taschen book, Shoes A-Z. Is there anything you miss about designing them?
I love designing shoes. I don’t like the rest of the shit that comes with it. I’ve had offers here and there but so far I’ve said no to all of them. I’ve done collaborations; I did some shoes for D-Squared, I did some shoes for an English designer, Sophia Webster. That’s fun because it’s pure design. It’s in their collection, not mine. I don’t have to price it, make it, deliver it, I just go hey, this is a great idea. Sometimes I don’t even earn that much money from it but it’s fun. Sophia mentioned in the press that I was her hero, that she’d become a shoe designer because of Patrick Cox shoes. So I sent her a DM about four years ago and said, hey! It just grew from there – that was the joy of designing again. And D-Squared, obviously I’ve known the boys since they were 16 and I was 17 in toronto.  They said Hey Paddy, give us a loafer and I was like, ok!  

As for returning to being in charge: it can’t be called Patrick Cox but something by Patrick Cox – and that would only be if I was completely convinced that everything was there, otherwise I’m not interested. And who’s going to offer that to me? The further and further you get away from your glory years, less and less people remember them. But it’s a very 90’s moment and the whole world is copying my archive right now. 


I would love to experience Toad.
You know what Samadhi is? It’s the ultimate state, the state of pure consciousness. My Buddhist friend Graham told me that he wanted to experience Toad. He could only do the first two stages as he has a heart condition but he sends me the most beautiful messages all the time. He says Patrick, I’ve been a Buddhist for 30 years and always believed. But now I know.


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