For the thousands of disciples of “Sex and the City,” there is a widely held mantra: “What Would Carrie Bradshaw Do?”
The question is one that propelled many of those fans (admittedly, yours truly, circa 2006) to uproot their lives and move to New York City in the quest for the Cosmos and glamorous cosmopolitan life that the seminal HBO show promised (a pilgrimage documented this morning in the New York Times). Since the show’s ascent to cult pop status, the question has been applied to a range of questions within the topics of dating, friends, career, babies, weddings, apartment hunting and other life choices for women (and men).
But for many of those fans, the mantra is just as important (or even more so) as a sartorial one: “What Would Carrie Bradshaw Wear?”
The personal style of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Bradshaw (executed through the creative genius of costume designer Patricia Field) has been well documented by magazines and blogs alike, and discussed in private circles with a bible-group conviction. There is the worship of the Manolo Blahnik strappy sandal (and later, the something-blue Hangisi pump that Mr. Big used to propose to Carrie in the first movie installment). The big flower lapel pin. The bubblegum-pink ruffled heels from Christian Louboutin. The jaw-dropping Dolce & Gabbana jeweled panties. The tutu as daytime skirt. The mille-feuille Versace evening gown from Paris. The Christian Dior newspaper dress (its current iteration is the Galliano Gazette print, which is part of the John Galliano fall 2018 collection).
The subsequent movies, “Sex and the City” (2008) and “Sex and the City 2” (2010) gave enthusiasts a look at what Carrie would wear in the aughts: gladiator heels, jersey dresses, and lots of statement necklaces. It proved, once again, that the character’s fashion choices would be dissected (and replicated) many times over, often distilling trends into iconic moments for future reference.
And with today’s 20th anniversary of the show, we can’t help but wonder: What Would Carrie Bradshaw Wear in 2018?
Fashion has changed a lot (as it’s wont to do) since the show first aired on June 6, 1998, and it’s changed again since the two films debuted (it has been eight years since the last one — eons in fashion time). The kitten heels of the late ’90s have given way to the strappy sandals of the early aughts, morphed to the gladiators and platform pumps of the late aughts. What would Carrie wear today?
We may never know, especially given the well-publicized drama between Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall (the latter has promised that she will not participate in a third installment of the film franchise). But that won’t stop fans from romanticizing on the question. Would Carrie wear a slip-on mule by Mansur Gavriel? A Gucci Princetown loafer? Would she dare to risk her high-heeled reputation with a pair of Balenciaga Triple S dad shoes?
We are definitively well into in the era of the sneaker, but given the character’s track record, it seems unlikely that she would slip on a pair of Stan Smiths in place of something more traditionally feminine. More likely, she would wear a Gianvito Rossi Portofino sandal, a Roger Vivier mule, or a Paul Andrew Zenadia pump. And she would probably choose a Balenciaga Talon-Slash sequin embellished slingback over the Triple S.
Or would she? Looking back at the TV show, there are stark contrasts between 1998 and 2008 when it comes to women’s issues — dating and relationships, career ambitions, sex. Would viewers react and interpret differently Charlotte’s views on having a career as a married woman, or Samantha’s choice on sexual partners, or Miranda’s lack of work-life balance. Would Carrie’s choosing to wear heels while walking Aidan’s dog been seen as chic or impractical (and perhaps outdated)? Given the political climate surrounding women’s rights, more light being shed on inequality and the #MeToo movement, it’s difficult to not see the show in a different light on all issues — including footwear choices.
That Parker now has her own shoe line, the namesake (and very Carrie-esque) SJP Collection, makes it difficult to imagine Carrie outside of the world of jeweled pumps. But given costume designer Field’s track record of making sure that the character’s style never fully pandered to the trends of the moment, if the shoe-obsessed columnist ever does reappear onscreen, it won’t be in something everyone else is wearing.