On the heels of the 25th anniversary of “Sex and the City” and a celebratory, four-day NYC pop-up displaying original costumes and set replications, the show’s spinoff, “And Just Like That,” is back for season 2.
In advance of Thursday’s premiere, we caught up with the show’s costume designers, Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago, for a chat about eight-hour fittings, Sarah Jessica Parker’s extensive Carrie Bradshaw archives and the future of AI styling.
What was it like revisiting the archives for the pop-up?
Rogers: “We’re fortunate that we have a show where we can grab a Roger belt and people are excited to see it, just like they’re excited to see one of the actors. There’s a real connection — people hold [the fashion] so near and dear to their heart. They know where [Carrie Bradshaw] wore something and it’s a real marker for people’s lives.
[Sarah Jessica Parker’s archives] are really impressive. You open a box, and there’s the shoe from Staten Island where she ‘lost her Choo.’ It truly is emotional because you remember where you were when you bought that shoe. Carrie’s first expensive dress was $800. And I remember Pat [Field, the costume designer for the original series,] and I were like, ‘Yikes!'”
How does it work? Sarah Jessica Parker keeps and archives stuff that was purchased?
Rogers: “If it’s purchased, she keeps it, and if it’s on loan, then we return it, of course. A lot of times Chanel will say, ‘Oh, gosh. Please let her have that belt.’ But the big stuff — loans.”
What do you think about the emergence of social media accounts like @everyoutfitonsatc [an Instagram account extensively chronicling the outfits on the series]?
Rogers: “It’s all fun and games, until it’s mean. As long as everybody’s having fun, it’s amazing to have that kind of telescope on a show. Those gals [behind @everyoutfitonsatc] hosted a panel that Danny and I spoke on. It’s fun. I mean, I follow The Bradshaw Boys [who document their experience watching the series for the first time via Instagram].
Santiago: “It’s amazing that so many people have so many connections to the fashion, as well as the characters. Fashion is a character on the show, so people are invested in the new outfits for the new season. They can recall so many of the old outfits in the scenes. It’s fun to give people a little Easter egg [from the past] every now and then, either by placing something in a closet or [dressing] Carrie in a belt or a baguette again. It really excites the fan base.”
A lot has changed in 25 years. Would the characters have looked at social media for outfit inspiration if it had been popular when SATC started? And is social media a consideration when styling them today?
Santiago: “I don’t think we think about that. But that is the modern world. We live through our devices. We see everything instantaneously — everybody at the same time — because of Instagram and TikTok. The girls are modern women, so they’re going to be on these things, as well. We’re all influenced by it. What’s great about Instagram is that you can find something you never heard of before, and I think the girls would do that, as well. It’s great to discover a new designer on the other side of the world, and because of the technology, it’s easy to contact people, request things and connect with people. In that way, it’s been very helpful for us with the show.”
Rogers: “I think Carrie as a writer would be very very fascinated, as I am, with AI and how it relates to every part of your life. Will AI pick your outfit when you tell it where you’re going? Will AI costume design Season 3? I don’t know what’s coming. We can’t even imagine!”
How have the characters’ styles changed from Season 1 in 2021?
Santiago: “The story’s changed a lot. [In season 1], we were dealing with the funeral and with Carrie processing that in her life, writing her book and going through that. Now she’s coming out of that a little bit more. She’s open to dating and being a little bit more out there. And I think we’re seeing the influence of that in the way she’s dressing. The story for the second season feels a lot more like the original series in a lot of ways. The girls are more active. It’s given us more places where we can do more with the outfits and play with the outfits. We’re bringing a lot more color in, we’re mixing more patterns. Also, we’re dealing with all four seasons – last season, we didn’t really have as much winter and fall as we do [this season]. So we’re doing a lot more layering, texture, pattern mixing, things like that.”
I read that your fittings are often upwards of eight hours. Why do they take so long?
Santiago: “A lot of times when we’re putting things together and we’re doing these fittings, we’re working on two episodes at the same time. And within those two episodes, there could be anywhere from 8-12 outfits in that episode. If you think about the amount of volume we need to bring in to do that, you’re talking 30 outfits. If you divide that up into eight hours, there’s really not a lot of time! We like to take our time; we love to look at everything. Sarah Jessica looks through all the racks — she will try anything on — and we experiment with things. We like to bring new things in, we like to play with things. Once we have everything together, we can grab a belt, because we’ve got 100 belts to choose from, then we can grab a handbag, because we have 50 handbags to choose from. So that’s the process. [The time] goes by so quickly.”
Rogers: “That room is like a tornado hit it. SJ is trying on eight pairs of shoes to go with one outfit — you’re not taking each pair and putting it back in its place. You’ve run off to try to find a couple of bag options. It feels like speed styling. It’s action-packed. Kristin likes to come and hang out. She will stay all day long. She wants to make sure she’s not rushed. Also something that takes up a great deal of time is pinning something out. You have to be patient when you are dealing with someone who’s short-waisted. Or [if] SJ is in love with this dress and it’s a size 12, we’re gonna make it a 2 or a 4, and that takes such a long time. I’m not going to rush a tailor!”
Are there particular pieces or looks you’re most excited to show in Season 2?
Santiago: “There are some pieces where I love the way they were shot. … I love [the character Lisa Todd Wexley’s] incredible dress for the Met Ball. We had so much fun seeing that out on the street with that beautiful long train. She’s crossing the street with that big headpiece with the feathers. We had five people on it, pressing it out every time and steaming that skirt out, because [Wexley’s husband, played by Chris Jackson,] had to gather it up in [his] arms and then had to roll it back out again every time she crossed the street. That was a beautiful moment. … It was [a dress] Molly and I had seen last summer at the couture show for Valentino. When we knew there was going to be a Met scene, we thought, ‘What a great thing for LTW to wear.'”
Rogers: “I’m looking forward to the scene where Carrie’s wearing the hat that we got in a fight over in the behind-the-scenes documentary [on HBO], because I think the fans will be snickering. They’ll laugh and think that it’s cool, because she didn’t get to wear it in Season 1. And now we have our revenge scene, and she’s got it on.”