There are two types of people interested in fashion in this world: those who have already binge watched Netflix’ new show Emily in Paris, and those who are lying. The series follows Lily Collins’ chirpy protagonist Emily as she begins her new life in the city of chic, with no shortage of chaotic fashion, French men falling at her feet, office SNAFUs, and a questionably economical amount of Chanel flap bags for a 22-year-old graduate.
The main reason that the 10-episode show has made such a big splash is due to the creative team behind the lens, namely creator Darren Star and Patricia Fields—the unoffficial HRH of styling for the screen—as costume designer. Ergo, the comparisons to the likes of Sex and The City and The Devil Wears Prada are to be expected. And while the fashion is definitely a feast for the eyes (oftentimes overwhelmingly so), the internet has many thoughts about the sartorial direction.
came to a conclusion that emily in paris was deliberately dressed badly bc she’s seen as the typical american glorifier of typical fashion and paris by parisians
— 𝑗𝑒𝑎𝑛 ✞ (@tearcessation) October 4, 2020
emily in paris is really about a girl who moved to france to work at a fashion company but doesn't speak french and can't dress this is devil wears prada rosetta stone edition i'm stressed
— 𝐋𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐚 (@sincesuburbia) October 3, 2020
why is emily in paris doing this to fashion and to lily collins pic.twitter.com/XTL7PBwfyX
— ModernGurlz (@ModernGurlzz) October 3, 2020
I came across a particular tweet by Pierre Alexandre M’Pelé, aka Twitter-famous fashion critic Pam Boy and editor at The Perfect Magazine. In his dispatch, he prophesied how Emily would dress in the show if she was a black girl: showing up to presentations in looks by Christopher John Rogers, LaQuan Smith, and Robert Wun, and toting a different Telfar bag to the office every day. (Granted, he admitted to a follower that he has not actually watched the show.)
But no less, his statement, coupled with so many other tweets from viewers picking apart the fashion—and the seemingly lack of cohesive styling—made me think that maybe we’re all just backseat drivers ticked off at the costume choices because we would have done it so differently in our own heads. Just like Pam Boy indulged in selecting runway looks that he would have chosen for his Emily, I found myself distracted by thinking about the Frenchisms I would have dabbled in if I was hot-footing it to Paris on my sabbatical. (Clare Waight Keller-era Chloé, anything Marc Jacobs designed at Louis Vuitton c. 2013-2014, Olympia le Tan clutches, shoes by Sophia Webster and Roger Vivier, and a healthy dose of vintage Dior evening coats —if you’re asking.)
So, back to Emily, teetering around in stereotypical choices like Louboutins or Margiela Tabi boots, coupled with an accessory that is either a cliché (a beret!) or downright confusing (a Kangol bucket hat!). The visual references are obvious and, honestly, a little bit tired—the obligatory opera look inspired by Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face and the tulle gown à la Carrie Bradshaw in the SATC ‘American Girl In Paris’ finale among them. Then, there’s also the strange modern mashup of Off-White, GANNI, Hood by Air, and Ronny Kobo. The result is that we don’t actually get a sense of what Emily’s style really is, particularly when juxtaposed with her new insouciantly elegant Parisienne amie Camille, who is a perfect hybrid of Camille Charriere-meets-Caroline de Maigret.
Though perhaps, that’s the whole point? Here is the token young expat, so out of her depth and confused about what the hell she’s doing that she doesn’t even know which of her many suitors to kiss in that very moment, that she’s trying to emulate the sharp chicness of her boss Sylvie with some outfit choices, while simultaneously leaning into her one chance to cosplay as a French Girl with an obligatory checkered jacket and red beret. Sure, the clothes are wearing her a lot of the time, but the fashion still gives us as much escapism as the delightful show and its many plot holes. Now, we just need to get to the bottom of how she afforded every Chanel it bag in recent memory.