Fashion is as intrinsic to the Sex and the City DNA as the turbulent love story of Carrie and Big. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a time when brands weren’t willing to loan pieces to a then-unknown low-budget production, particularly as the show ultimately catapulted Galliano newspaper dresses, floral pins, Baguette bags, Manolos, and even ballerina tutus into cult status items all over the world. Ironically, it’s the prevailing scrappiness of mixing thrift store and vintage finds with luxury pieces that created an unmistakable fashion language for the show. Fully fluent in that style narrative are costume designers Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago, who have returned to lead the wardrobe department for the And Just Like That reboot. They tell The Daily about what it’s been like writing a new chapter, some 17 years later….
I’m so excited to be talking to you both! My boss calls me the resident SATC historian….do you get that a lot?
Molly: Oh we’re so glad to hear that. So what did you think as a diehard fan of the show?
I loved seeing the evolution! One thing I noticed was the jewelry seemed so much more luxe, like they had all invested in beautiful pieces in the years since we’ve seen them…
Molly: That’s a good observation. I mean, it would have been impossible to recreate the Carrie necklace. It’s a classic and there’s no substitute for it. It’s like trying to catch lightening in a bottle.
Is it going to appear?
Molly: It might show up…
How are you feeling with the reaction to the first two episodes?
Molly: I knew people were going to be unprepared! There was a lot of information in the first episode and I knew no one would be expecting the outcomes, and to put on top of all that emotion, we have lost Willie Garson. I think people were excited, but cried a lot more than they thought they would.
I thought putting Carrie in a vintage dress for the funeral was so symbolic, after she had went full circle and eschewed the big wedding dress for something vintage too.
Molly: Oh I mean, Danny, how many black dresses do you think you looked at?!
Danny: At least two full racks. We had pieces by designers from everywhere and from every brand. We tried on so many. That black dress was from Florida, from my own archive. In the fittings, it just kept going back to that black dress. Even though there were so many other things, we kept referring to it. It has a beautiful neckline and the structure is almost ballerina-like. As gorgeous as it was, it was so simple, and it met all that it needed to. It’s a Lily Reuben dress from the ’50s or early ’60s.
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When you’re between two outfits, how do you decide, ‘this is the one.’
Molly: A lot of the time, the storyline decides. Here, she’s mourning, but she’s still going to be stylish—that’s just the character she is. There were a couple of more modern dresses, but they seemed too crispy, too new. It would have been like she was putting too much effort into dressing. We actually were calling that scene, ‘The Black Event’ as a code word so we didn’t get discovered. We couldn’t have anyone know we were shooting a funeral. The shower scene was called, ‘Water Works!’ We had a different outfit, a long Carolina Herrera dress, that didn’t make that scene as we needed to see the shoes and how they lost their blue dye in the shower. We threw the dress in somewhere else!
The flower pin she’s wearing felt very iconic. Was that from the archive or recreated?
Danny: It’s from Sarah Jessica’s archive. That was something she had from the 2000s. We needed six, so we took the original to a theatrical place and they recreated the color and petals as she would get wet each time we filmed.
Tell me about the famed costume archive that SJP has! What does it look like?
Molly: It’s a well-kept storage facility here in Brooklyn. People use it when they need pieces kept temperature controlled and in pristine condition. We only had [the contents] delivered once or twice. We kept wanting to look at more and make sure that we’d have the right things…like the Roger [Vivier] belt. We ended up sending the van twice.
Danny: It was so great to have those pieces. They’re exactly as they were 20 years ago! It’s beautiful to see them and bring them back to life. We had a lot of fun going through them, making the selections, and seeing where we wanted to use them.
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Will we notice them pop up or are they for the more discerning eye!
Molly: Both, I think. There may be pieces that slip past, but they’re scattered around. People who watch this show are eagle eyed!
Danny: There’s lots of easter eggs hidden in there.
Speaking of eagle eyes, was it daunting having this much commentary?
Molly: It’s great to have attention and excitement, but it’s a two edged sword. It was being over shared, and I don’t care for that; when I watch a trailer and I feel like I’ve seen the entire thing. It was important to keep some mystery and some things secretive, but we couldn’t control what people were sharing.
And I guess way back when, there weren’t even camera phones so there was never a risk.
Molly: Never. We were so under the radar! It’s freeing to not be under the microscope. That was not part of the original show. It was cool and it felt underground.
The positive thing with Instagram, at least, is being able to discover new names.
Danny: Because of Instagram, we were able to get things from all over. I love going through and finding new designers from different parts of the world who are creating such amazing pieces. Instagram helps so much in that way. It’s exciting to find someone new creating handbags, shoes, accessories. Someone who’s in Africa or someone using a village in Colombia to do handwoven kaftans or someone in Berlin doing beautiful silks and prints, which we used on [new character, Lisa Todd Wexler] LTW. Having the internet and Instagram helped us to open up to the world.
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Do you think, knowing Carrie so well, would she be the type of shopper to use Instagram?
Molly: Absolutely. It’s such a wealth of information, and you can shop anytime of day! In the ’90s, we would go out at night and go to clubs in New York. That’s how we were super inspired: you saw something, you met someone. It doesn’t really happen anymore; where I bust up into a club and see something super creative. You can watch a competition on Project Runway now. It’s all so mainstream. It’s fun to go to some unknown space or meet someone from a small town, doing something cool. I think that Instagram is now where you find those people that are doing those real niche things.
Yeah, what people are wearing can feel same same in New York nightlife now. But ironically I wanted to ask you about the Norma Kamali dress which I instantly bought, and I’m sure so did so many others….
Molly: Did you get it in the blue?
I did, but there was a customer service mix up and then it sold out so I lost two days of my life on the hunt for it. But I got the pink!
Molly: She was supposed to wear the pink! But it wasn’t available in any sizes, it got delivered much later, so we went with the baby blue.
It feels like a much more approachable version of the little grey body-con dress she’s wearing at the Barney’s window. This suits every woman’s body!
Danny: It really does, and it comes in such a great range of sizes too.
Molly: I feel like I’m experiencing that this weekend, as there’s so much interest in the Vivienne Westwood long sweater that she’s drinking martinis in with Willie and Cynthia in episode two. Everyone’s going crazy for it, but we bought the last three! That’s the kind of sweater that’s great on anyone—it’s cool and it’s like a robe. She needed to be in something comfortable. Maybe they’ll reissue it…
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It speaks to what we all are gravitating towards right now, something chic and comfortable…
Molly: After all that Zoom and doom!
On the subject of doom….are there more shocking storylines coming our way?
Molly: People should get a seatbelt! There’s twists and turns. I think some people have been like, ‘I hate it—it has devastated me!’
To me, it felt like seeing older relatives I hadn’t seen in a long time.
Danny: That’s how it felt to us. Like the best reunion!
When you were approached about the project, how did you begin moodboarding what happened to the characters since we’ve last seen them?
Molly: Danny is the master of the moodboard! He can pull images so fast and quickly.
Danny: Michael Patrick King got us on the telephone and pitched the entire season to us. We knew everyone’s storylines, the character arcs, and we knew that the three girls were established in their looks. We started moodboards at soon as we got the breakdown. We had to build the moodboards for the new characters based on what he’d told us, because they weren’t cast yet. It was a little unusual but when we then saw who they were, we tailored it more towards them and their body type, hairstyles, and so on. Once Michael told us that LTW was on the International Best Dressed, that was a huge clue as to what she looked like and once we saw Ari Parker was cast, we knew she could handle the level of clothing we had been planning.
The girls definitely are established in their looks, as you say. Can you define them in a sentence?
Molly: Oof, let’s see! Carrie is a statement maker. Charlotte is Uptown romantic. And Miranda is laidback professional.
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What character is the most fun to style?
Molly: Anybody? That’s like saying you have a favorite kid—I love them all for different reasons. I’m not a Carrie or a Miranda or a Charlotte, even though they are all interesting New York women. Danny, do you? For me, it was Stanford!
Danny: For me being a costume designer, it’s parts of all of them. There were always things we’d pick out that we love. Everyone would joke, ‘Oh there’s a blouse for Danny!’ because I am a sucker for a puff sleeve, and that’s always a Charlotte thing. There’s definitely things about each one that we love: design, color, what [happens to a piece] when someone wears it. The characters bring so much personality. They really give life to the fashion! As bold as the outfits can be, the clothes don’t overwhelm them. They wear these pieces.
What about the other characters, like say Bitsy Von Muffling. They must be fun fittings!
Molly: That is a fun fitting! I videotaped a lot of it—she’s such a maniac and so much fun. Amy Sedaris’ fittings were also bonkers and off the chain during the old days. So much fun!
Danny: We designed a space that made people feel creative. Not only did we have beautiful things to look at and a beautiful space to be in, it was the environment we created. It stimulated a lot of people and they could be open, creative, and talk about things and play with different ideas…
Molly: We had the best dressing room! With the carpet and couches, and a fantabulous three-way Hollywood mirror. It’s a really fabulous place to spend hours in.
Danny: We had music playing and great lunches brought in too!
I notice you’ve been documenting the behind the scenes of the dressing room on Instagram too. A fan’s dream!
Molly: Yeah we wanted to make the dressing room look more like eye candy to share those fly on the wall moments and post more pictures.
It could be like the new Sex and the City bus tour, except it’s just a day in the dressing room with you!
Molly: Ha! We’re packing it all up now. Danny just drove it down to Florida with him.
I would have intercepted that truck…I know a good magician doesn’t reveal their tricks, but can you tell us some good vintage spots in your little black book where you look for costumes?
Molly: Danny and I really enjoy RK Vintage in Brooklyn. I don’t think it’s much of a secret. It’s fabulous!
Danny: The industry definitely knows what an amazing resource it is. We go there and always scoop up something amazing as they pull from all different people—there’s probably 20 people shopping all over the country. James Veloria in Chinatown; we would shop from there. The flea market in Chelsea, and there’s a store right across the street—Marlene Wetherell Vintage. There’s incredible vintage dealers in there. We also have a couple of private dealers and would source vintage online. We’re constantly searching and hunting! As Molly says, ‘We leave…’ what is it again, Molly?
Molly: Under every rock we look!
James: Right! We started prepping in Florida, and we looked everywhere between Miami and Palm Beach. In the resale stores, outlet malls, consignment shops. Before we even got to New York, we had half a truck!
Can we expect any cameos from designers or major fashion storylines. More “fashion roadkill!” if you will…
Molly: I don’t think you can top that scene! Nothing pops to mind, but I’m sure there’s something!
Danny: We can’t really let out too much, but it’s in the course of the show…
Molly: Oh yeah! There’s a huge thing actually…but we can’t say and spoil it!
Danny: I mean fashion is part of the brand. The viewers will definitely enjoy it!