Hi everyone, it’s Emily!
Carrie Bradshaw is undoubtedly a fashion icon. In fact, I even named one of my dresses after her! She has so many recognizable looks that although are often considered ultra quirky are also beloved. Sex and the City was just as much a fashionromance, sort of like a fashion fantasy. Carrie outfits were definitely taking pleasure from the characters’ elaborate dress-up games as styled by costume designer Patricia Field. In this blog, I’ll be discussing 5 of my favorite looks from Sex and the City and some of the little known stories behind them.
1. The Tutu
Of course Carrie's iconic tutu was going to make the list. She wore the iconic style in the opening credits of the show, pairing the tutu with a pink tank top and strappy stilettos. It definitely set the bar for Carrie's unique sense of style. Patricia Field also revealed it only cost $5! The famous tutu also appeared in The Sex and the City film, when Carrie was cleaning out her closet with the girls and had a mini-fashion show. I believe it will always be a beloved piece from the series.
Even those who don’t know Sex and the City will recognise this look. It’s officially Carrie’s first ever outfit – a tiered tutu teamed with a pale-pink tank top and strappy sandals for the show’s opening. Patricia Field revealed that she sourced said tutu from a showroom bin, and bought it for just $5.
I wanted to take a deep dive into this look, and I found some interesting commentary on the Internet.
A grown woman wearing a tutu in public seems out of place, especially before this show aired. Typically utus belong on only two types of people: ballerinas and toddlers, not street clothes and were associated with performance and/or youth.
The tutu had a purpose. In the dance world tutus enticed the male patrons who provided financial support for impoverished ballerinas — often in exchange for sexual favors. On stage the tutu represented ethereal spirituality but carnal availability offstage. Sort of a paradox, right?
Parker conjured a modern-day version of this paradox. Carrie was the thinnest of figure and also the “airiest” and most Romantic, the one most desperately searching for true love. She sort of embodied that romantic ethereal spirit but she’s also sexually available; I mean the show is called Sex and the City.
In conclusion, not something I ever thought about before but really interesting to dissect one of my favorite Carrie looks - the tutu.
2. The asymmetric XXL flower dress by Eugene Alexander
The white flower-adorned dress SJP wears in the 2008 movie’s opening scene was originally designed for the musical icon Whitney Houston. She wore it in a 1987 promotional photoshoot that later wound up on the cover of Life magazine.
The gown was created by Sarasota, Florida-based brand Eugene Alexander. I could not find much information about him, but apparently he also outfitted stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda and Loretta Lynn in the ’80s and ’90s.
The difference between the Whiteney Houstin dress and Carrie’s dress is that it was chopped into a mini and features just one super-size hibiscus blossom, while Houston’s original had two.
After doing some research I found that apparently Sarah Jessica Parker absolutely loved flowers, and it was her idea to incorporate them into Carrie's style. She wanted to to do a big flower. They started with a smaller flower and got larger and larger. Her signature flower is apparent throughout the course of the show, whether it was broach or a headpiece. Carrie wearing the flower inspired real life fashion designers to use flowers as accessories and it sort of started trending during that time. In fact, I remember I had a shirt with a big flower on it when I was young, but I had no idea where that trend came from!
3. Christian Dior newspaper dress by John Galliano
Sex and the City fans will likely remember slinky bias cut number from season three of the series when Carrie asks for Natasha's forgiveness after sleeping with her then-husband Big. Styled with her equally iconic namesake necklace and big hair, it was a moment. The style moment became so iconic that it was revisited for the second movie and we saw Sarah Jessica Parker wore the famous frock one more time.
Just a little background about what is going on when we first see the dress: Essentially we’re at the point where Carrie and Big couldn’t keep away from one another and his marriage to Natasha is on the rocks. Carrie is looking like a little bit of a homewrecker at this point. And with a good costume designer we know clothes chosen for a scene are never just clothes. There’s always a story. Here’s what I found from my deep dive:
John Galliano lifted the idea from a brilliant Elsa Schiaparelli. Newspaper print first entered the fashion stratosphere back in 1935 when couturier Elsa Schiaparelli took press clippings written about her and transformed them into printed blouses and accessories. The “Christian Dior Daily” print debuted during the infamous “Hobo Chic” couture collection of 2000. Under the influence of Moët and coke at 3AM, Galliano was inspired by the homeless people that he saw on the streets of Paris. He also drew inspiration from Tramp Balls, which were essentially lavish 1920’s-30’s-era parties where Parisian socialites dressed up like poor people for fun. The show enraged critics. Not fully satisfied with his flagrant glamorization of poverty, Galliano reworked the newsprint theme into his next ready-to-wear show and this dress was born.
So how is Galliano’s inspiration connected to the costume choice for Carrie? I think you can draw a connection between the glamorization of affairs- referencing Big and Carrie’s affair- with the glamourization Galliano used in regards to poverty.
4. Grey Versace Couture Dress
During Sex and the City’s finale episodes, we watched Carrie leave New York to follow her new man, Aleksandr Petrovsky, to Paris. While the relationship didn’t work out for, her Paris outfits were epic, but looking that good comes at a cost.
This dress was created by Atelier Versace. It was selected because of how over-the-top it was. It’s absolutely gorgeous but came with a large price tag valued at $80,000. In the end, the outfit was Patricia Field’s favorite from the entire series. She said she loved how it literally covered the bed and became the perfect princess moment.
She loved the acres and acres of tulle and chiffon, in this darkly romantic color--the perfect dress to be dumped in. She stated that there's nothing more woeful than seeing a beautiful woman all dressed up with nowhere to go. Ironically, Carrie didn’t even get to wear the dress out. She fell asleep in it while waiting for Petrovsky.
It is the saddest and most beautiful ball gown of all.
5. The Fur Coat
Worn over Pjs with a party dress or to a baseball game, Carrie has no shortage of uses for the Fur coat. In fact, I’d consider it part of her capsule wardrobe.
No one is able to do a fur coat justice quite like Carrie Bradshaw can. Though in today's world it's a bit taboo to wear a fur coat, back when Sex and the City was airing it was the epitome of fashion. She got so much use out of the large, ultra-full fur coat. She wore it with her little black dress, checkered pants, a floral dress and even a voluminous skirt and bold blue and pink blouse. It’s one of few clothing items Carrie repeated throughout the show, and she looked beautiful rocking the different ensembles with it.
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