In a week already full of shock and awe, the Sunday evening reveal that “Sex and the City” would make its return to TV was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2021 so far.
Actress Sarah Jessica Parker announced the news of a 10-episode reprise via HBO Max on her Instagram account, with a single post showing a somewhat cryptic trailer that revealed scenes of New York City (pre-pandemic) next to Carrie Bradshaw’s infamous type. “I couldn’t help but wonder… where are they now? X, SJ,” Parker wrote in the caption, veering back into her seminal character’s diction.
For the fashion world, the news offers perhaps a glimmer of opportunity, especially at a time when the very definition of fashion — in retail, in trends, in business, and more generally, in philosophy — is in question.
It was just over a decade ago that the most recent appearance from the franchise, “Sex and the City 2,” the movie, premiered. While it was widely planned (including and especially for some of its garish fashion product placements), it’s worth noting that few movies and TV shows since have drummed up the kind of pure excitement for fashion — fashion for fashion’s sake, if you will — that the series has elicited throughout its 23-year-history.
As the fashion world grapples with how it will move forward in 2021 after the pandemic turned the industry upside down in 2020, the implications of a “Sex and the City” reboot are endless and unknown. How they will unfurl as the series goes into production in early spring could even help to shape the future of fashion as it works its way out of the pandemic.
Here are five ways that the new “Sex and the City” could influence fashion in 2021:
A renewed interested in the joy of fashion
Since SATC’s last appearance in 2010, there have been few films or TV shows that have captured the untethered joy of fashion the way the series has. There have been historical shows, like “The Crown,” or the more recent “Bridgerton,” which delight in vintage splendor. There was “Emily in Paris,” the Parisian SATC knockoff (complete with wardrobe by Patricia Field), which trafficked in French and European stereotypes. The matriarch of “Schitt’s Creek,” Catherine O’Hara’s Moira Rose was a true fashion icon in all her Alexander McQueen glory, but it was always part of a joke.
A return to “Sex and the City” would give the fashion world a chance to remind the general public of the jubilance, the satisfaction and general happiness that fashion can deliver. As people begin to tire of sweatpants at home, the series could also be the catalyst for getting dressed up again.
SJPs in place of Manolos
Could Carrie Bradshaw ever part with her Manolos? If SJP has anything to do with it, she will. In July, the actress opened the doors to her new SJP Collection flagship, in the exact spot where Carrie used to shop for her Hangisis and strappy sandals. With former Manolo Blahnik USA president George Malkemus by her side, Parker took over the Midtown space, renovating the townhouse to reflect her brand’s aesthetic — which has an undeniable life-imitates-art influence of SJP-meets-Carrie.
“Yes, I have memories in this building, in this store. I have real, sincere memories of making purchases, of not making purchases, looking at stuff — and then its role in ‘Sex and the City’ and the way we got to be in this store and work with George and the sales associates,” Parker told FN during her September 2020 cover shoot.
One thing is almost certain: There will be a new pair of SJP shoes to go with the show.
To buy: SJP Collection Cosmo pump, $375.
A possible new character — complete with a new wardrobe
As big as the news of the series reboot is, equally monumental is the fact that actress Kim Cattrall will not be joining the cast to reprise her role as Samantha Jones. Many fans are speculating just how the show’s writers will explain the character’s absence. Back in 2017, Cattrall herself suggested in an interview with Piers Morgan that the role might go to an actress of color. “I played it past the finish line and then some and I loved it and another actress should play it,” Cattrall said in the interview. “Maybe they could make it an African-American Samantha Jones or a Hispanic Samantha Jones, or bring in another character.”
Plot lines and characters have yet to be revealed, but many are already speculating as to how Cattrall’s absence will be explained. Will the character be killed off? Will another actress merely take over? Will another Samantha archetype be introduced? One thing is for sure: A new character or a new interpretation of the role will undoubtedly usher in an entirely new wardrobe approach.
In a post on the reboot, Instagram meme account Saint Hoax cut footage of the girls at brunch with Cardi B. The rapper quickly — and believably — steps into Samantha’s usual gag of offending Charlotte with explicit language. It would be entirely plausible for Samantha to wear a getup similar to Cardi’s in “WAP.“
A rekindled desire for shopping
Would Carrie Bradshaw be Carrie Bradshaw without a shopping bag? The image alone of the character with something new in hand could help to jump-start a return to in-person shopping. In real life, Parker has been one of the biggest cheerleaders of the brick-and-mortar experience, regularly turning up at her own SJP Collection boutiques to meet with customers, including and especially during the pandemic.
“I would love to see a city that feels more like a bunch of shops like ours — smaller businesses connecting with communities, supporting communities,” Parker told FN in September when discussing New York City retail. “That’s why nostalgia is such a commodity now, because people want to feel connected to something. Maybe we’ve learned that you don’t need a hundred shops across a globe. You need a touchstone, you need a place that feels real to people.”
It’s likely the the actress will synchronize the rollout of the series with activations at her own shops, but the broader effect could be a return to in-person shopping and shopping events (with safety measures in place).
New York City’s own reboot
No one has tried to fully calculate the economic influence that “Sex and the City” has had on New York City over the years, but with entire generations of women and men moving to the city to live the Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle, it’s safe to say that the effect has been enormous. The series even has its own arm of tourism in the city in walking tours to all of the notable landmarks (Parker’s SJP Collection has even aligned with a few of them).
If filming and production of the reboot is set to happen on New York City streets, it’s likely that fans will find their way back to the Big Apple, if not to catch a glimpse in real life, then at least retrace the footsteps of their favorite characters.
In the words of Parker: “You just can’t give up on this city,” she told FN.