Sarah Jessica Parker arrives during the "Sex And The City" movie premiere at Radio City Music Hall in New York May 27, 2008.[Agencies]
Believe it or not, there are women out there who did not and do not watch Sex and the City. Not during its six-season run from 1998 to 2004, nor in the subsequent four years it has been available on DVD, HBO On Demand or in syndication almost nightly on TBS. Still, here's betting that more than a few of those Sex-less women have donned a giant flower pin, flaunted Manolos or pined for a Birkin bag in the past 10 years, after an "SATC"-fueled fad gripped the masses. The HBO series was a fashion force that, thanks to Sarah Jessica Parker's effervescent Carrie Bradshaw and her costumer, Patricia Field, exposed a mainstream audience to flamboyant style extremes.
So, with the release of Sex and the City: The Movie, legions of loyalists hope to learn more than the answer to obvious questions like: Will Carrie and Big get married? Movie-goers want to see the clothes. And so, just after the opening credits roll comes Parker's familiar girlish voice-over, declaring that the female New York experience comes down to "the two L's: labels and love." In the movie, those labels include Chanel, Prada, Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Lacroix, Vivienne Westwood and, of course, Manolo Blahnik. That Carrie, in all seriousness, states that a Richard Prince Louis Vuitton bag is "the best money I ever spent," says it all about the show's, and now the movie's, priorities.
Style-wise, the supporting cast is, for the most part, as it was. Charlotte is still prim in printed sundresses and generally perky, uptown attire. Samantha is perhaps bigger and bolder than ever in over-the-top, often unsightly, getups, including canary yellow and emerald green jackets belted over white pencil skirts and topped off with door-knocker earrings. If anyone experienced a transformation, albeit a mild one, it's Miranda. Whereas in the series, Cynthia Nixon's cynical high-powered lawyer sometimes dressed as a quintessential corporate stiff in stark suits and boring basics, here she is fully, believably chic in tweeds, earth tones and graphic prints, often accessorized with demonstrative geometric jewelry.
Of course, the fashion story was and always will be about Carrie, a character, who, thanks to Field, holds dual titles as television's best and worst dressed. To the well-trained, high-fashion eye, Carrie's 81 costume changes make up perhaps the most metaphorical wardrobe in cinematic history. For half of the film she comes off as a polished, uberfashionable grown-up; the other half, she's the quirky, experimental fashion trailblazer/victim. Polished Carrie is done up head-to-toe in resort and spring 2008 trends: florals, like a gem-studded YSL sack dress, and full-skirted frocks made a little edgy with a studded black leather belt.
At her best (or worst, depending on how you see it), Carrie entertains and impresses with imaginative combinations. As for her outrageous, often tacky, taste, she pulls it off with the help of Parker's taut, toned and all-around tiny figure that can make even stonewashed, button-fly jeans look good. Or an all-black ensemble of a tarlike puffy coat, topped with a fedora; not to mention a pair of pajamas paired with a fur coat, white high-heel booties and a sequined beanie. Indeed, it's a taste of the wacky, and totally in character.
Still, it fails to deliver the same euphoric fashion rush as did the series. In the 10 years since the show started, dedicated Sex maniacs have become used to Carrie's wild, tacky and impossibly theatrical gear. This time, it's impossible to shock them. Fashion-wise, the in-the-bag blockbuster Sex and the City: The Movie is definitely fun, but not enough to get carried away.