‘Sex and the City 2’ fashions: Q&A with assistant costume designer Molly Rogers
Lace crowns, harem pants, monogrammed train cases, vintage turbans and painted fans. Despite mixed reviews, the costumes alone make “Sex and the City 2” worth seeing.
In the story, Carrie Bradshaw and her pals have moved on from thirtysomething single-girl angst to fortysomething married-girl angst (relationship malaise, career-family balance, hot nannies and hot flashes — depressing stuff). How to escape? An all expenses-paid trip to Abu Dhabi, and a fantasy wardrobe to go with it.
Unlike the costumes in the first film, this time the look is more motivated by style than fashion. Not that there aren’t a lot of big-name designers represented on-screen, including plenty of Halston (not surprising since Sarah Jessica Parker is chief creative officer for the Harvey Weinstein-owned fashion brand).
But there are also vintage finds, cheap chic basics from Zara and lots of discoveries from lesser-known designers, all of which made the series must-see fashion TV way back when. And this time, there’s a book, “Sex and the City 2: The Stories. The Fashion. The Adventure” (Running Press), to document every head-turning look.
Costume designer Patricia Field and her team spent nearly a year doing fashion footwork — scouring markets in Dubai, sitting at runway shows, pulling from designer archives, visiting showrooms and working the late-night fashion party circuit, all in search of the perfect eye candy. The visual spectacle they create is its own kind of escape.
I spoke to Molly Rogers, Field’s longtime collaborator and assistant costume designer on the film, about the process.
What was your inspiration?
The girls are really thrilled to be going on this excursion and they are stimulated by the destination. That called out for lots of long dresses, which are cooler in that climate. We were inspired by lots of old films that took place in exotic places, like “The English Patient” and “The African Queen.” We loved how in “African Queen,” Katharine Hepburn was all done up in gloves and a parasol until things started falling apart.
Was there a lot of discussion about how to dress the characters while they were traveling in a Muslim country?
It played a part in the fittings, but it didn’t hamper us. Pat didn’t want a shawl on everyone, so we figured out other ways of covering the shoulders. And when they were at the resort, it was a kind of free zone.
Let’s talk about some of the more interesting style flourishes in the film. That crumpled Yohji Yamamoto hat Carrie wears on the plane.
When Sarah Jessica walks into a room of hats, if one has a hole in it or is distressed, she gravitates to it. That hat had issues, but she wanted to try and get it in the movie anyway. And Michael Patrick King ended up writing a line about it.
The embellished jeans she wears to the karaoke club are so decadent-looking, and I’ve never even heard of the label Closed.
Sarah Jessica had been on a shoot prior to prepping for the movie, and she found that line. We called the company and had five or six pairs sent over, and sent them to the Blonds to embellish. She wears them with a Chanel skirt on top.
New York designers Phillipe and David Blond also made the red dress with the spiky shoulders that Samantha wears to the club, right?
Yes. I’ve worked with Pat for so many years, and she has so much energy. She called me one night and said, ‘I’m having cocktails with the Blonds and I’d like you to come.’ It was 11:30, and I already had my pajamas on. On the way home, she texted me that Phillipe had this dress on that would be perfect for Samantha.
In one of the more memorable scenes, Carrie wears a purple taffeta ball skirt to go shopping at a souk. Who does that?
We were in the fitting room and Sarah Jessica had this amazing green print Zac Posen ball gown on. She added a cowboy hat and said, “Now I know I can’t wear this on a camel.” We were all laughing and helping her out of the dress and there was this gorgeous skirt for a lining underneath. It reminded Pat of the tutu from the TV show. So I ran over to the rack and got a T-shirt from the Dior archives and we said, now we have something.
Do you ever feel pressure to use certain designers?
We don’t really feel that. We just hear, “Sarah Jessica would like to see Look 11 from the runway show,” and the designers send it with no threats or strings attached.
Even with Halston?
There was no pressure. Pat has been really, really into Halston for a while, and it’s so appropriate for that part of the world. And that first white dress Carrie wears in the film, it’s so clean and modern, so New York.
It’s been reported that the costumes cost $10 million.
No, we would all be fired and out of jobs. I don’t know how that started. Maybe because we borrowed a Leviev diamond for Kim [Cattrall] and it was insured for $5 million. I don’t know, but Pat has a reputation for delivering the goods at a price, and many things were loaned. The budget was significantly lower.
Did the cast get to keep the clothes?
Not the ones that were loaned — we return them. If one of the girls is really attached to something, sometimes it is gifted by the designer. But the majority goes back. And really, where is Kim going to wear that red dress with spikes again anyway?