Of course, the fitting room for "And Just Like That," the "Sex and the City" sequel, is a fashion fever dream: a luxury-boutique-meets-members-only-club filled with A-listers, endless glittering accessories and free-flowing beverages.
"It was glamorous — everybody that walked in there was feeling it and looking for a cocktail," says Molly Rogers, who co-costume designed the much-anticipated series with Danny Santiago. "It had the vibe of a gorgeous nightclub with chic people."
Rogers and Santiago previously teamed up on the costumes for the second "SATC" film, alongside friend and mentor Patricia Field. She also co-designed the final season of the HBO series — Paris! — and the 2018 "Murphy Brown" revival with Field.
For "And Just Like That," Rogers envisioned a sartorial utopia, likening the initial entrance experience to Field's "The Devil Wears Prada," when Runway art director Nigel (Stanley Tucci) leads newbie assistant Andy (Anne Hathaway) into the magazine's magnificent fashion closet: "I knew it needed to be like when Annie Hathaway opened the door."
"Anybody who loves fashion would love to be in that kind of room," says Santiago, piping in. (The two often finish each other's sentences.)
As documented on the show's official Instagram, @andjustlikethatcostumes, original cast members Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon have creatively collaborated, joked around and gamely Boomerang-ed in the plush surroundings, backed with lively music and mood-lighting. Plus, "we have ice-cold vodka, and we can offer you any flavor of ice cream — but not really, in case the studio is listening," says Rogers, with a boisterous laugh. "Sorry, HBO!"
But the plush couches, eye candy décor (custom wallpaper by Santiago's friend Paula González!) and luxurious accoutrements aren't just for the hard-working crew and cast: A constant roll-out of fitting room #content continuously feeds fervent "SATC" fans' ballooning anticipation of the Dec. 9 premiere on HBO Max.
"We put our foot down and said, 'This fitting room needs to feel like a fantasy. The fans are going to see it, and they will not stand for a broom closet,'" Rogers says. "We were not going to disappoint."
The two don't even have to try, but they still always stir up a viral frenzy with each Instagram reveal. Remember that shot of Parker leaving the wardrobe trailer in a polka dot Carolina Herrera skirt and a bird hat reminiscent of Carrie's feathered bridal headpiece when Big (Chris Noth) left her at the altar in the first movie? "We said that day, 'The minute you step out in this bird, it's gonna break the internet. So why don't we [take the photo] two minutes before you step out?," says Rogers. "We knew that the bird was instant gratification."
Fans immediately began to speculate about Carrie's and Big's current relationship status, further fueled by the paparazzi catching Parker and Noth filming a scene shortly thereafter. Rogers and Santiago claim to be too busy in their "fittings bubble" to consider a social media strategy — but they're savvy enough to jump on a fashion-meets-plot opportunity and scoop the paparazzi when the chance arises.
"Knowing that she's gonna get so much exposure for it, for us to try to get it out first — that was really the intent on that one," Santiago says.
Santiago's and Rogers's costume sanctuary also helped shield them from outside influences to their design approach — and from feedback by passionate fans. For instance, Carrie's vintage gray suit, with polka dot shirt and tie, from Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring 1997 collection, topped with a bright purple blazer, caused some controversy. (It does seem to offer a through-line to Carrie's Thomas Short white vest and cropped trouser look from the "SATC" movie, though.)
"We didn't concern ourselves with, 'This was gonna get burned,' 'Everybody was going to be upset that they saw it' and whatever," says Rogers. "We just did what we thought looked great and we had fun. And we didn't really..."
"Didn't pay attention," says Santiago.
The duo also incorporated the tried-and-true "SATC" formula of inventive high-low mixing — the O.G. street style by Field — to create another viral milestone in October: Photogs papped Parker as Carrie wearing the one-shoulder Norma Kamali "Diana" dress, which promptly sold out and populated my Twitter TL and Instagram Stories thanks to editors wanting to cop it. "We thought, 'It's gonna look beautiful on [Carrie], but also, a lot of people can actually obtain it," says Santiago of the $215 price tag.
Still, Rogers had the style legacy long-game in mind.
"I knew immediately it was going to be compared to the T-shirt dress from the original series [season 2, episode 15, 'Shortcomings'] because it had that vibe," she says, while hinting, "I love the price of it for what we needed to do [to fit the story]... wink wink."
The new It dress, like pretty much every single other costume caught by the paps, has been identified by the proliferating wardrobe ID Instagram handles, like @justlikethatcloset. Rogers and Santiago are perfectly happy to have others do the tagging.
"We wanted to focus our Instagram on giving something a little special," says Rogers. "I'm not interested in identifying and quantifying, you know, letting you know how much something was. I'd like to [share the] story behind the story."
The team has offered glimpses at new characters, like Nicole Ari Parker's chic Park Avenue mom/documentarian Lisa Todd Wexler, and plenty of shoe porn. "We will definitely have a lot of wonderful things to share on our Instagram — that no one has seen — when [the show] airs," says Rogers.
In the meantime, the two are steadily keeping our attention with a "Where's Waldo"-like game of spotting nostalgia-triggering items. Fans went wild in the comments section of a picture featuring the Gucci logo belt bag that Carrie wore to find Aidan (John Corbett) flirting with a bartender in season four.
"Well, that actually came from Sarah Jessica's archive," says Santiago.
Per her contract, Parker kept many key costume items from the original series, which she carefully preserved throughout the years. "She has kept it beautifully in the hopes of seeing it again, here and there," says Rogers.
Rogers and Santiago explain that incorporating notable throwback items remains an "organic" approach, as opposed to strategically-placed fashion Easter Eggs. "We don't really mean to do it — it just sort of happens. It's not premeditated," says Rogers, with Santiago agreeing and referring to the 2021 restyling of Carrie's studded Roger belt by Streets Ahead studded belt (below), which also broke the Internet. "You were like, 'Oh, that needs a belt' and then somebody will say, 'Roger it!'" she says.
Although, after an unexpectedly heated social media response, the duo pivoted from incorporating one plot-driving throwback accessory.
Rogers recalls Davis finding Carrie's Judith Lieber cupcake bag from the first film in the fitting room (you know, the one Charlotte's young daughter Lily — now a teen, played by "Over the Moon"'s Cathy Ang — stashed Carrie's phone in, thus making Carrie miss Big's repeated calls to pause the wedding), and posting a picture of it. Fans revolted.
"It was so violent," says Rogers. "I was gonna throw the cupcake bag into the mix 'cause it's iconic, like the Eiffel Tower bag. When I saw the reaction, I was like, 'I don't want this innocent girl [having angry people] camping outside her school.'" (Don't worry, the Eiffel Tower bag, covered in 7,000 Swarovski crystals, is back.)
Resurrecting the wardrobe favorites this go-round sends another timely and important message, according to Santiago: "Everybody upcycles now. We really want to have people do that with their clothes, put things together in a new way and reuse things. It's not about disposing of your clothes and your fashion — it's about holding on to the pieces that you really love and incorporating them down the road with new looks and new ways that you can wear them."
Looks at Carrie's wardrobe journey into the "AJLT" era reveal the same whimsy and joy with fashion from her "SATC" days, but with more vintage mixed in. The costume duo emphasized a "non-label" approach for the character, which also speaks to her enduring individuality — "a personal style choice without it becoming someone's brand label, you know what I mean?" says Santiago. He also mined his own extensive vintage archive, which features well-known designers and famous runway looks, along with thrifted pieces, like the printed maxi-dress — possibly by L.A. family-owned Raga, not by Forever21 — that also caused a viral free-for-all in July.
As part of the lead trio's wardrobe arc, Rogers and Santiago also made a point to seek out independent designers. "It's not so much of an 'evolution' in [the characters' established] style — the girls still are who they are, as people," says Santiago. 'It's more about bringing them up-to-date to what's going on now and introducing them to new fashion designers. Undiscovered designers."
In August, Parker was shot in costume wearing an asymmetrical straw boater hat (above) by Esenshel, designed by New York-based Rodney Patterson, a favorite of Billy Porter and "Zola" director (and former costume designer) Janicza Bravo. Also featured: jewelry from We Dream in Colour, designed by U.S.-born and Trinidad and Tobago-raised Jade Gedeon; sculptural pieces by Miami-based Haitian-American creative Waina Chancy's Ndigo Studio; handbags by buzzy New York-based Brandon Blackwood; and Parisian conscious label Xuly Bet.
"We've always tried to treat the show as a moving magazine, even back in the day," says Rogers.
With Field, Santiago and Rogers led the movement of luxury design houses lending samples and runway looks to television shows. Fast forward two-plus decades and, of course, brands are eagerly knocking down the costume department's doors to have their pieces on screen. With an embarrassment of riches, they tried to get a jump-start by sourc Spring 2022 pieces to coincide with the airdates of the series, even though the pandemic and supply chain issues proved a challenge.
"People were trying to get up to speed and we had access to lots and lots of stuff, no doubt... but we were trying to push the calendar a little bit," says Roger. "And we did."
Rogers and Santiago also found themselves in a bit of friendly competition with their former boss and costume design partner: Field was prepping and sourcing wardrobe for season two of "Emily in Paris" at the same time the two began on "AJLT."
"Danny and I talked to Pat a lot, and Pat was in Paris, so I was like, 'Okay, sneaky, sticky fingers,'" says Rogers, with a mischievous laugh. "I called her one time and I asked her if she was using the Dior 'J'Adore Paris' T-shirt. I didn't want there to be any crossover."
But the brands understood their good fortune for exposure on multiple fashion-filled platforms — and it's all in good fun, because House of Field forever.
"I think all the houses were very conscious of you know, 'hey, Pat's pulling this' and 'Molly's grabbing this,'" says Rogers. "Everybody was communicating, but we had a laugh or two."