‘Sex and the City,’ ‘Girls’ Costume Designers Discuss Storytelling & Styling

Sex and the City Fashion Shoes
Left to right: Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall in the "Sex and the City" film.
REX Shutterstock.

While the hit TV series “Girls” and “Sex and the City” have a few things in common — both air on HBO and star four young women in New York City — there are more differences than similarities, easily noted in the character’s fashion statements. But costume designers for both shows agree: At the end of the day, it’s all about storytelling.

Sex and the City Shoes StylesLeft to right: Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kim Cattrall from the “Sex and the City” film. REX Shutterstock.

Jenn Rogien and Patricia Field were on hand on Monday afternoon at the high-end jewelry trade show, JA New York, to discuss their costume design careers and some behind-the-scenes details.

Rogien is known for her work on the Lena Dunham-led “Girls” as well as  Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” and Field is responsible for those memorable looks seen on Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City.” Field was also the costume designer for “The Devil Wears Prada,” and she is currently working on the television series “Younger,” starring Hilary Duff.

"Girls" Season 6 Fashion & ShoesLena Dunham in “Girls,” Season 6. Courtesy of HBO.

When asked about the difference between their jobs and that of a stylist, both costume designers agreed the two jobs were very different.

“When you’re styling, it’s about those pictures, those moments, those images that really convey a statement,” said Rogien. “And at least on the episodic shows that I’ve worked on, the costumes are about helping the story unfold and supporting the actors in what they are doing. You don’t want to overstep the story purposes. Unless you’re supposed to.”

In “Sex and the City,” the wardrobe and costumes became its own entity.

Said Field, “Sarah Jessica Parker was great to work with on that level because she loves fashion.” She added that Parker would purposefully show off an accessory, whatever it was, even if it wasn’t directly in the script. For example, if she had a statement ring on her hand, she would sip a cup of coffee with that hand just to give the ring its moment — all for the love of fashion.

Sex and the City Fashion Shoes StyleSarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw wearing Christian Dior sandals in the “Sex and the City” film. REX Shutterstock.

“There’s a big difference between styling for fashion and styling for storytelling,” Field said. “We are storytelling, and of course we inject our fashion ideas if it’s appropriate, but it’s very different. That is what I love about movie-making — it’s more dimensional. Other factors enter the complex of what you’re doing. You have to dip into your brain and be creative, not only visually but intellectually.”

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