I am not obsessed with Sex and the City. I only mention this because it occurs to me I might have talked about SATC in another post and I want to be clear. (As a woman, I would rather distance myself from those of our tribe who have somehow latched onto that HBO phenomenon as a step-by-step guide to modern womanhood. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a chic-er version of Trekkie-ism.) That said, let’s all just admit right now that it was, whatever the over-saturated aftermath, a piece of pop-culture that did, in some way, shift public consciousness about fashion and femininity, and so does not bear dismissal (at least not outright).
In the last months there has been the expected amount of buzz about the latest SATC movie, due for release in May of 2010. Internet gossip sites are rife with photos of SJP et al, on location and dressed to impress. Sort of.
I remember the first time I watched SATC. It was the late 90s and, fashion-wise, I was feeling kind of bored. The pierced-and-dyed grunge aesthetic had become mainstream enough to be adopted by elementary-school secretaries, runway fashion was dominated by nudity (with strappy shoes) which was hard to pull off during the long Canadian winters, and the ravers had finally lost their minds completely. I wanted something else – more creative, less presciptive, intelligent, inspiring. Enter Pat Field. Her styling decisions in those early years were everything I’d been missing. The startling (for TV) mix of current trend and vintage quirk felt unique and fearless (the latter was amusingly illustrated by frequent fashion disasters that somehow came off as charming, which was a revelation to me). I found myself combing Goodwills and Salvation Armies, armed with ideas and new sense of adventure. It was really good fashion – and it felt totally accessible. I still think the first four seasons especially are some of the best (and wonderfully worst) fashion the small screen has seen since Mary Tyler Moore.
I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but somewhere in the last couple of seasons (and especially in the first film), with the momentum of snowballing popularity and the increasing demand for product placement by designers (for a while there, a high-end handbag in Carrie’s hand was worth a hundred ads in Vogue), the whole thing started to drift into Advertorial land. Pretty, sure, and well styled still – but increasingly devoid of the intuitive and street-savvy originality I’d come to crave. It was as though SATC had fallen victim to a Couture Coup; fashion was, once again, ruled by money and label. By the time they got to the movie, my love affair with Pat Field was over and, between the safe choices and designer pandering, I felt like I was being sold another bill of goods. I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me.
Good thing those first seasons are in the can. And since the New Year is a time to look back as well as forward (should auld acquaintance be forgot and all that) this post was really just an excuse to revisit a few old favourites…
This one can’t go without comment. It happened in season 6 and was, hands down, one of the worst mish-mash outfits Pat Field ever put together: sweatshirt and silk cami, flannel pyjamas, pearls, disco toque and the rattiest fur coat since Fozzy Bear. It looks wildly uncomfortable and it made me impossibly happy.