Working from Paris, Kelly produced collections for five years, beginning in 1985 and continuing until his death in 1990. After receiving financial backing from the U.S. based fashion conglomerate Warnaco in July, 1987, Kelly was able to hire a staff and eventually achieve wholesale sales of US $7.2 million per year. Kelly's designs were sold in upscale retailers including Henri Bendel, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdale's and were worn by celebrities including Isabella Rossellini, Bette Davis, Cicely Tyson and Grace Jones. Kelly's designs frequently incorporated bright colors, were often embellished with ribbons and buttons and suggested a sense of whimsy and joy while sometimes addressing difficult issues of race. This was pointed out by the giving his audience a tiny brown doll with molded black hair that could be most accurately described as a pickaninny. Kelly also used culture using motifs such as watermelon and the golliwog. He was known to walk the runway in baggy overalls and used a large spray paint heart as the background to his fashion shows. 
In 2004, The Brooklyn Museum presented Patrick Kelly: A Retrospective, a show featuring more than sixty Kelly designs.
^Hornblower, Margot (1989-04-03). "An Original American In Paris: PATRICK KELLY". Time website. United States of America: Time Inc. Archived from the original on 2010-06-01. Retrieved 2010-06-01. "In the late 1980's Kelly began selling his collection on the street and working as a costumer at Le Palais.Since July 1987, when Kelly signed a licensing contract with the $600 million conglomerate Warnaco, his business has shot up from $795,000 a year to $7 million a year."
^ ab"FIDM Museum Blog: Patrick Kelly". FIDM Museum Blog. Los Angeles, CA: FIDM. 2010-03-22. Archived from the original on 2010-06-01. Retrieved 2010-06-01. "In 1988, Kelly became the first American designer to be admitted to the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode..."