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).
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The characters were like “primary colours”, the show’s creator Michael Patrick King said recently. And now that
In season two of And Just Like That… Carrie repurposes her Vivienne Westwood wedding dress for the Met Gala – and a new phase in her life (Credit: HBO)
Now AJLT is in its second season, and the costumes are as unique –– 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 .
“We ended up with a few plaid coats because I went througharchive. 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 .
“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.”
Cynthia Nixon’s Miranda is going through big life changes in AJLT, with her wardrobe echoing her upheaval (Credit: HBO)
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? 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 areto 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.”
The character Seema (Sarita Choudhury) is styled in luxurious shades of gold, tan and caramel (Credit: HBO)
Another character who’s having a full-circle style moment is Charlotte. In the premiere of season two, as the characters are heading to the Met Gala, Charlotte is decked out in an equestrian dominatrix look. It points towards Charlotte’s association with Ralph Lauren, the heritage brand famous for its horse-logo Polo shirts – she wore the brand in SATC, and has talked about how she used to be a teen model for them.
But the strong, sexy look – on the previously prim Charlotte – also hints at the character coming into her own power, and inching towards the decision to go back to work. “I’m gonna take credit for that. Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking,” Rogers says, asserting that Charlotte has really been able to break out of her shell and shine in AJLT: “Nobody’s really lost in the noise of Samantha.”
Since she brings it up, I ask Rogers about, which the show’s original costume designer styled her for. “Nobody realises that Pat and I have been friends since 1984,” Rogers says of her mentor, who has since worked on and Cattrall’s recent Netflix show, Glamorous “There is no pitting against each other. That was Kim wanting to pair up with her dear friend and come back and feel calm and good about things. I’m sure they had a good time. The rest of the crew had nothing to do with it. It was this little bubble that they came in and out of. It worked for everybody.”
Otherwise, AJLTis a very collaborative set. “That goes directly back to why I think the original Sex and the City was such a hit,” Rogers says. “We were just downtown kids, so when we were in a production meeting and they would say, we’re going to shoot in a bar, and we would say, we know the hippest bar there is, they listened to us, and that would be the location. Collaboration is so much more powerful than being dictated to.
Charlotte’s character (Kristin Davis) is evolving from prim to powerful – as reflected in her recent equestrian dominatrix look (Credit: Alamy)
“Michael Patrick King is very, very open… unless it’s a.” In the show’s accompanying 2022 documentary Rogers and Sarah Jessica Parker both argued vehemently for the inclusion of a hat in one of Carrie’s Paris looks but were vetoed by King. Said hat later made an appearance in the first episode of season two. “He does not want to go down in history as a hat killer,” Rogers laughs.
And what other moments should outfit-spotters look out for? As ever, it seems, the fashion will tell the story. “Carrie likes to celebrate occasions,” says Rogers cryptically. “Especially in the finale; you’ll see.”