We’ve been prepped: A glimpse of the first table read. A photo of the trio during their first day back on set. A shot of the premiere script. But nothing could quite prepare our highly girded loins for the very first promotional photo from the eagerly anticipated “Sex and the City” revival/sequel, titled “And Just Like That…”
There they were, our girls, last seen over a decade earlier in 2010’s much-maligned/best-forgotten sequel to the far superior 2008 film. Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) stood center, beaming, with a Monrowe hat draped over her shoulder like a backpack, a vintage Norma Kamali black and white check skirt and Celine FW20 tri-buckle Mary Jane pumps. Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), now silver-haired, wore a buttoned sleeveless checked shirt, Vince belted tapered pants, a woven leather clutch and nude Manolo Blahniks. Charlotte (Kristen Davis) wore a Carolina Herrera polka dot off-the-shoulder blouse with a belted black pencil skirt, a Lady Dior mini bag at her hip and Dior’s beloved J’Adior slingback satin pumps.
Okay, I did it! I went a whole paragraph without mentioning NASA enthusiast and the Geri Halliwell of “SATC,” Samantha (Kim Cattrall). Though we knew Kim would not be returning (who could forget that nail in the coffin?), seeing the quad as a trio all dolled up, simply put, hit different. Fans weren’t quiet on that.
Others, myself included, were quick to point out the faulty (I’m being generous) photo editing, something the series has a history of.
But the most common criticism outside of the Sam Jones erasure seemed to be about fashion, something fans will no doubt have strong opinions about, good and bad, as the series faces social media for the first time ever. (The original series ended two years before the birth of Twitter.) There was an issue with the strap ends sticking out of Carrie’s pumps, the greyscaling of the once colorful palette of the show and more. As stylist Thomas Christos aptly noted, “Why is Carrie Bradshaw dressed like Sarah Jessica Parker?”
As writer and designer José Criales-Unzueta points out, this is a byproduct of the social media age, which taught us to assess at face value.
“When you look at it, is it a cute outfit or not?” he told In The Know. “Doesn’t matter if it’s vintage or off the runway, social media has taught us that if it doesn’t look good, then it’s a chop. What for me is a serve to others might be… a choice.”
“Yesterday, I was not into Charlotte’s polka dot Balenciaga skirt because, in my head, it doesn’t make sense. But some of my DMs say they loved it because it felt like her,” he added. “Only one DM changed my mind about it actually! And it was from one doll who said that some women of Charlotte’s demographic today in NYC shop like that — not necessarily by brand affiliation or loyalty, but by what their salesperson at Saks, Bergdorfs, etc. pushes for them. Maybe Charlotte saw a skirt that she liked and read Balenciaga on the label and that was good enough for her!”
It’s important to remember: They’re characters who became fashion icons in the zeitgeist, but the approach has to be, “would she wear this?” not, “will Twitter love this?” Though I wasn’t as sour on the fashion as many, I did feel like the shoes in particular just didn’t mesh with the Carrie I knew. That’s because, or so I told myself, only Pat Fields, the series’ original costume designer, understands the oeuvre of Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte that she’d so delicately crafted. (God, I’m still getting used to typing three names and not four.)
Field, as it turns out, would not be returning, citing a time conflict as the main reason. “I wasn’t able to be in New York doing that and be in Paris doing ‘Emily in Paris,’” she told Women’s Wear Daily about her much-speculated departure from the series she helped build. “But I told them to call my very dear friend Molly Rogers, who also worked in my store back in the day. She did Sex and the City with me from start to finish. She knew it well, so she’s doing it. My dance card was full.”
Do I have questions about the operative use of “main” when citing her reason for not returning? I sure do. Still, I was comforted to know that a steady hand was at the helm of the wardrobe, something as much a character in the original series as the city itself.
Still, my biggest qualm after more set photos emerged was thinking, “Carrie wouldn’t wear that!” The floral silk satin cropped Dries Van Noten SS17 jacket? Sure, yes. But the cut of the Claude Montana paneled linen jumpsuit felt… off. And then it hit me: This is how nitpicky we’re going to be? You’re pressed about the cut of the pant?
I think that I, like many, adopted an immediate “’Sex and the City’ isn’t ‘Sex and the City’ without Samantha” mantra. When that became ubiquitous, I, like some, switched it up to a “’Sex and the City’ isn’t ‘Sex and the City’ without Pat Fields” decree. And it’s true, really. But it’s also worth noting that this isn’t “Sex and the City” Season 7 for a reason. To para-quote the feather headpiece-loving Lady Bradshaw, “seasons change, so do cities [and so do beloved series].”
It’s easy to look back at “SATC” and poopoo the series’ many pitfalls. Carrie, a sex columnist, was in fact quite sexually unliberated, for instance. That’s why tweets like this — ”growing up means realizing that Carrie from Sex and the City is actually an insufferable toxic b****” — continue to go viral. But this iteration has promised to expand what was once a limited gaze. Take the casting of Sara Ramirez as a queer, non-binary comedian. Combine that with those — and I’m not exonerating myself from this category — quick to pounce on any misstep made in the new version, and it’s easy to mark “And Just Like That…” as doomed from the start.
But we won’t know if the show is any good until it premieres later this year. We can judge the set photos, sure. We can scoff. Bemoan. Cringe. Whatever. And that’s valid. I still don’t love the jumpsuit!
But there’s a choice to be made at this juncture, and it has nothing to do with the show really, but our own desire to want to love it. If you’re not here for the revival, there’s plenty to pick apart. Where’s Elizabeth Taylor, for instance?! Or we can choose to love it, warts and all, celebrating the return of our once-beloved show, cautiously optimistic but hopeful for the end of a decade-long dry spell.
If you liked this story, meet the cast of Netflix’s hit show Bridgerton.
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