From Charlotte’s equestrian dominatrix look to the return of Carrie’s bridal gown, the bold – and sometimes controversial – fashion in TV’s And Just Like That reveals the main characters’ evolution. Scarlett Harris speaks to the show’s costume director to find out how.
When Sex and the City first appeared on our TV screens 25 years ago, the four female characters fell into clear categories or archetypes. The show’s more avid fans were quick to align themselves personally with one character type or another – they were either a creative, flighty Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), a buttoned-up Charlotte (Kristin Davis), a sexually liberated Samantha (Kim Cattrall), or a no-nonsense, ambitious Miranda (Cynthia Nixon).
The characters were like “primary colours”, the show’s creator Michael Patrick King said recently. And now that Sex and the City has morphed into And Just Like That… (AJLT), the characters have evolved, he told the And Just Like That… The Writers’ Room podcast. “They went from primary colours, to shades of that colour, to plaid: now they’re everything.”
Now AJLT is in its second season, and the costumes are as unique – and divisive – as ever. So, what do the style choices created for the main characters tell us? Listening to that comment by Michael Patrick King, I couldn’t help but wonder, in a very Carrie-esque way, about the prevalence of tartan.
In season two, Carrie reclaims the bridal gown in order to “repurpose her pain”
“We ended up with a few plaid coats because I went through Vivienne Westwood’s archive. A lot of the coats from that house would have some pattern on them,” Molly Rogers, costume director of AJLT, tells BBC Culture. It wasn’t intentional, “but if you see a parallel, that’s totally cool,” she says, adding that she loves it when people send her coincidental fashion flash-backs to the original show by messaging the And Just Like That costumes account on Instagram.
“The thing about season one is that we didn’t really have any seasons,” Rogers says, although it did take place over the course of a year, as does season two. “We kind of shot it all in spring, and we never really had an opportunity to put a coat or scarf on and have a blizzard.”
This resulted in a lot of sparkly dresses, evening duster jackets for day, and Carrie’s trademark tutu (which Rogers says was scripted as a “fashion moment. Warning! Warning!”), despite that Carrie is in mourning for her husband, Big (Chris Noth), who died in the first season. “That took the air out of my sails,” Rogers says, who went into the reboot with the intention that the clothes would be “joyous and happy, and nobody in Zoom, doom and gloom.”
Another fashion moment that was established by the writers, rather than by Rogers’ wardrobe department, was the comeback of Carrie’s ill-fated archival Westwood wedding dress from the first movie, when Big jilts her at the altar. In season two, Carrie reclaims the bridal gown in order to “repurpose her pain” as she puts it. Paparazzi shots from the set piqued fans’ interest in just what the gown and accompanying bird fascinator could be doing in the show. A dream sequence? https://www.happylandgummybears.com/ Another trip down the aisle for Carrie, this time with the returning Aidan (John Corbett)? It turned out the occasion was the Met Gala, because apparently these characters are famous enough to warrant an invite – but not famous enough to get a photo with Rihanna on the Met steps, much to the disappointment of Charlotte’s husband Harry (Evan Handler).
But as Carrie’s friend, Bitsy von Muffling (Julie Halston), says, “the second year of grief is harder than the first”, which has led to a more sombre, masculine-inflected wardrobe for the character.
While Carrie is still on her grief journey, Rogers wonders if Miranda is having a mid-life crisis of her own, being newly separated. “She’s living out of a suitcase… It’s kind of whatever she’s grabbed.” Still, Miranda’s looking arguably the best she ever has, in waist-cinching jumpsuits and chunky sweaters, and last season’s grey hair made for an easy canvas, says Rogers. “Silver is a neutral, so you can put any colour with it.”
Speaking of neutrals, and despite Rogers’ usual reticence when it comes to the colour brown, she does gravitate towards the hue when it comes to dressing Carrie’s new friend, the luxury real estate broker, Seema, played by Sarita Choudhury. “I want to see brown here, I want to see chocolate, liquid gold, toffee and caramel,” Rogers says. “This is a sophisticated New Yorker who sells multi-million-dollar apartments; she’s matching the furniture in that place. She’s being driven around town by a driver in a chocolate Mercedes… we have to match that car! She’s looking seamless as Seema.”