Iconic costume designer Patricia Field exclusively spoke with E! to break down all of Lily Collins' most memorable looks in the charming new Netflix series from the creator of SATC.
How do you say Sex and the City in French?
Honestly, it's hard not to compare Emily in Paris to the iconic HBO series. It's from the same creator: Darren Star. It has a fashionable yet relatable lead: Lily Collins. And the clothes. Oh, the clothes. Not since Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) twirled on a dirty NYC sidewalk in that tulle skirt have we had such an instant reaction to a character's wardrobe. And that's all thanks to Patricia Field, the legendary costume designer behind both Carrie and Emily's looks.
"The appeal for Emily in Paris for me was basically Darren Star," Field told E! News of signing on to do the Netflix rom-com, which dropped its first season on Oct. 2. "Darren is my hero. I met him at the beginning of Sex in the City. Sarah Jessica Parker introduced me to Darren because they had a costume designer and nobody liked the clothes."
Yes, SATC originally had a different costume designer and it's hard to imagine the show becoming as influential as it ultimately did if anyone else was responsible for the four ladies' ensembles.
After working together on 1995's Miami Rhapsody, SJP introduced Field to Star and "that is how I landed Sex and the City," the four-time Costume Designers Guild award winner explained. "It became iconic. I'm so happy about that, that people like it so much. But it was never a plan or anything conscious on my part. I just did my job."
And she's once again doing her job, with Field, who briefly played around in Paris in Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada, going full French with Lily Collins in Emily in Paris.
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After the first trailer for the series was released in September, the Internet immediately compared it to Sex and the City and gasped over the quick glimpses at the unmistakable Field fashions. Mind you, this was just from the trailer.
"I was very happily surprised," Field said of the reaction to the first look.
Here, Field broke down Emily's most memorable looks throughout season one, as well as revealed the differences between Emily and Carrie's takes on Parisian style…
While Carrie briefly spent time in Paris at the end of Sex and the City's run, Emily in Paris gave Field her first chance to really get a feel for the city. And that's reflected in the differences between the two characters styles, with Carrie getting carried away while Emily learns to subtley adapt her wardrobe.
"I would say that in a certain way, Emily was at a bit more, I don't want to say not as eclectic, but she had a story at a certain course, as she evolves in Paris," Fields explained, "whereas Carrie, it was like a free-for-all and Sarah Jessica understood all that. You know, my, choices.
"I would say that Sarah's style was a bit more eclectic and Lily's style was a bit more consciously Parisian development."
But Field made sure to pay tribute to her first American in Paris, revealing in a press release, "Emily's black tulle skirt in Episode 102 is an homage to Carrie's tulle skirt in the series finale of Sex and the City."
Prior to jetting off to the City of Lights to begin filming, Collins made a stop in New York City to have the appointment of many girls' dreams: "A warm-up" with Field, where she tried on couture clothing to find Emily's look.
"My process is to show a rack of choices," Field said of collaborating with her leading lady. "I went out and got a slew of things for her to try just as warm-up because we had never worked together before and it went great. She's fashion savvy."
In fact, Field went so far as to anoint Collins as SJP's sartorial heir, proclaiming, "If Sarah Jessica is the queen, Lily is the princess."
Wearing a shirt with the Eiffel Tower on it on your first day of work in Paris may seem obvious, but it somehow works on Emily. And that may be partly because viewers don't get a sense of her Chicago wardrobe, a story decision that worked to Field's advantage and allowed her "more freedom" to play.
"When she comes to Paris, I didn't want to make her corny or stupid, but you know that first outfit when she wears that Eiffel tower shirt," she explained, "I was a little reluctant. I thought it was maybe too touristy, but I went with it and I think it worked, I loved it."
Did Collins give you full Aubrey Hepburn vibes in TK, when Emily attended the ballet? That was what Fields was going for, even if she was initially hesitant to do so.
"I took the Liberty and I did an homage to Audrey," she explained. "I mean, you look at her and you see Audrey Hepburn. It's insane. So I was a little not afraid, but maybe reticent, should I do this? Is this going to be corny? But I think it worked OK."
More than OK, in fact, as the chic ballet ensemble—featuring a Christian Siriano gown and Agnelle gloves—is one of Fields' favorite looks from the first season.
Another one of Fields' favorites was Emily's gingham short suit that was paired with a red beret "that I loved on her," she raved.
And the beret was one example of Emily slowly adding more Parisian touches to her wardrobe over the course of the ten episodes.
"Not that she becomes like French chic, but she definitely takes on her own original, her interpretation of 'now I'm in Paris,'" Field said. "So, it's still Emily, but it's Emily in Paris."
Throughout the season, Field strived to find the perfect balance between "chic and eclectic" as Emily continues to adapt to her new home.
"Like, when she went to the country, she had that red sweater on," detailed Field. "That is, not to me, Parisian chic but it worked beautifully. So she wasn't 100 percent Parisian. She still had her own unique original looks for herself."
And that red sweater was yet another piece Field "wasn't sure about," but ultimately, "it worked out fine."
In addition to putting together Emily's swoonworthy style, Field also had to establish unique looks for Emily's friends, including the the down-to-earth Parisian Camille (Camille Razat) and fellow ex-pat Mindy (Ashley Park).
For Camille, Field wanted to go more "classic French, which I would call it conservative…even though these days, if you look at the girls in Paris, they're all wearing sweat pants and hoodies. That's the truth!"
And when it came to Mindy, who is working as an au pair and serves as a cultural translator of sorts for Emily, Field admitted she was "the one that we went a little crazy." She then clarified, "not crazy with, but the one we had more freedom with."
While Field is undoubtedly the fashion queen of New York City, she found the French version of herself in costume designer Marilyn Fitoussi, who helped on set.
"It was really odd because my crew was French, I was consulting and I hired the designer on the internet because I received about eight resumes," Field said of finding Fitoussi. "And, thank God, I made the right choice. She was a complete professional and she came with a fantastic team. I mean I know Paris, but I never lived in Paris. I don't know it inside out like I know New York. So it really worked out very well on that level. It was great."
Emily in Paris is now streaming on Netflix.
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