Before Instagram influencers and targeted social media adverts held sway over our every sartorial move, there was Carrie Bradshaw and what arguably has to be TV’s most enviable wardrobe*.
Sex And The City was all about four women who, to varying degrees, showed that happiness didn’t have to mean finding a man and a romcom ending (although there was a fair bit of that). Nope, happiness was about good friends, good sex and good gossip – and most importantly, good clothes, too.
Certainly, for fans of the original, which ran from 1998 to 2004 and was followed by two films in 2008 and 2010, the escapist fashion was a huge part of the enjoyment. Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) could get away with anything – pairing sports shorts with heels, men’s ties with couture dresses, and even belts, bizarrely, with her bare waist – the perfect advert for more is more.
Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) were all well dressed too, of course, but it was Carrie who rose to fashion icon status – inspiring us all to reach for the tulle, and then feel sad because we couldn’t pull it off, thanks to those opening credits.
When Sex And The City debuted back in 1998, heels were considered empowering. But fast-forward a couple of decades, with changing societal attitudes to fashion and feminism, how will the show’s catwalk credentials land with a younger audience?
The women of Sex And The City are back (well, most of them – Samantha is now “living in London” as Cattrall did not want to take part) in And Just Like That…, a Sky Comedy series billed as a new chapter to their story. As anticipation for the series has built, more than 10 years on from when we last saw them, I couldn’t help but wonder… is it Carrie’s relationship fans can’t wait to find out about? Miranda’s career? Charlotte’s life as a parent?
Perhaps, but really, it’s all about the style. Any photographs sneakily taken when the women were spotted filming outdoors have instantly found their way online, and an Instagram account solely dedicated to the costumes has around 113,000 followers before the series has even aired.
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With ’90s fashion currently back en vogue, now is the perfect time for the comeback. But is And Just Like That… set to define our wardrobes all over again?
Patricia Field, Sex And The City’s famous costume designer, has not been involved in the revival – leaving big Jimmy Choos to fill for incumbents Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago.
“Fashion was so important for these girls and for the viewers to see,” Santiago tells Sky News. “It is another character to the show, really, fashion, what the girls wear. People are always so curious to see… what is Carrie going to come out the door wearing?”
Both Rogers and Santiago have a history with the show; Rogers worked alongside Field on Sex And The City and the films, while Santiago also worked on the films. So they didn’t feel too much pressure taking on the fashion legacy, and say Field gave them her blessing.
Given you can just about count on your fingers how many high-profile women continue to work much beyond 40 or 50 in film, TV or fashion, the question Rogers and Santiago have been asked the most is how the characters’ styles have evolved as they have aged.
Ageism is an issue Parker has already addressed, gracing December’s cover of US Vogue to promote the new series: “There’s so much misogynist chatter in response to us that would never. Happen. About. A. Man.” Rogers and Santiago also dismiss any suggestion that age makes the slightest difference.
“The girls have a very distinct style and they’re known for this style,” says Santiago. “With Sarah Jessica, she’s always been very creative. She has a lot of whimsy to her character, a lot of whimsy to the way that she puts her clothes together. She’s very confident about her style and the things that she wears, so she can one day be in an evening gown and the next day be in jeans or sweats… with a gorgeous pair of heels. And that’s part of who she is, that’s part of who she’s always been.
“Everyone grows older, and of course maybe some of your style changes and there’s certain things that you gravitate more towards than maybe you did 20 years prior. But [Carrie] still is the person who she is, she still loves to experiment with fashion… so it doesn’t really matter about age, it’s more about keeping true to who you are to yourself.”
“I don’t think you should assign a number to anything in your life, you should have no limits and no rules and enjoy yourselves,” Rogers adds.
Fashion’s woeful record when it comes to its impact on the environment at the moment was another issue to address for a 2021 reboot. But Sex And The City has always been about more than fast fashion, the costume designers point out.
“The fashion world as a whole can do more, for sure,” says Rogers. “I think recycling and upcycling and vintage and reusing pieces really helps and lowers your consumerism. I think you’ll see that reflected in the show.”
“That’s something that the brand has always done,” says Santiago. “Repurposed and… vintage pieces especially has always been something that Carrie’s loved and we’ve continued doing the same thing. It’s something that we’ve always done and believed in.”
One of the best things about working on the revival was having access to Parker’s archive collection from the original series and films – and the pair say there will be a few nostalgic sartorial surprises peppered throughout the episodes.
Parker “has a great eye”, says Santiago. “And she’ll try on anything.”
Speaking about the star’s Sex And The City wardrobe, he says: “We were so fortunate that Sarah Jessica archived a lot of the pieces. She made it open to us to be able to pull whatever we wanted. We were so excited about digging and seeing what was there and what we could use, and we place things in very specific places [in the new series].
“There’s special little things that people have loved for so many years and the fact that we were able to still have those pieces I think excites people to see it again. They’re like old friends.”
* I said TV. Including film, Cher’s computer-programmed wardrobe from Clueless might just edge it. Sorry, Carrie.
And Just Like That… airs from 9 December on Sky Comedy and NOW