Warning: Mild spoilers for season 2 of 'Emily in Paris' below.
Bonjour, mes amis! Netflix's "Emily in Paris" is back, with season two picking up right where we left off: Emily (Lily Collins) is still in Paris, having finally earned the begrudging respect of her aggressively Parisian (and devastatingly chic) boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu) and très français co-workers. At least the Chicago transplant is taking actual French classes, where she's inevitably going to be distracted by aloof Brit Alfie (Lucien Laviscount). On the downside, she's lying to friend and paragon of French girl style Camille (Camille Razat) — and to herself about "le chef hot" Gabriel (Lucas Bravo).
Emily's not the only one moving up: Last season's co-costume designer Marylin Fitoussi takes the reins, with the legendary Patricia Field on-board as costume consultant. "We know the musical pieces. Now, it's like a symphony," says Fitoussi, looking très chic over Zoom in a silk turban and colorful embroidered robe-jacket. "We were able to play our part in a more relaxed and confident [way]."
She and Field outdo themselves from the debut season, with even more surprising and heightened character-building costumes (and fashion that's anything but ringarde) for the returning cast, new supporting characters and guest spots. Fittoussi and her team — who are super tuned into the local fashion and shopping scene — tapped all their sources, from French luxury houses to cool Euro indie designers to absolutely to-die-for vintage.
"I need to have different brands and different styles, and [want to] promote young people or lesser-known people," Fitoussi says.
The series features a few (and often meta) fashion-as-plot-device sequences, which offer an opportunity to highlight the work of up-and-coming talent, including a photo shoot — with a cameo from Ellen von Unwerth — for mercurial designer Pierre Cadault (Jean-Christophe Bouvet)'s collection. In real life, Fitoussi called on Jean Paul Gaultier protégé Victor Weinsanto to supply his conceptual designs.
Of course, continuing the Field-established approach, Fitoussi also mixes in high-street items — like Emily's Giambattista Valli for H&M pleated red gown from the finale — for accessibility. (She explains that the Netflix shoppable content aspect was "separate" from the costume design team's job and decisions.)
Ahead, Fitoussi and Field break down the season two costume developments in "Emily in Paris."
Emily's Second Act in Paris
In bringing Emily into her next act, the costume team and Collins decided to continue Emily's "eclectic and colorful" aesthetic. "She's confident and ambitious," says Field.
To telegraph Emily's more self-assured and settled place at work, they take her established themes — checks, stripes, color-mixes and accessories (hi again, bucket hats) — "a bit over-the-top," as Fittousi says.
As she strides into Savoir, Emily's outfit — a boxy green Elie Saab shacket over a striped and ribbed-knit Versace polo and vintage Thierry Mugler checked skirt (above) — illustrates her growth from her initial day au travail. "[It was] more sophisticated than her first outfit in first episode, with the Eiffel Tower [themed blouse]," says Fitoussi.
But Emily is still the American in Paris, hence the mixtures of prints, colors and textures that are almost exploding exponentially throughout the season.
"We [still] needed to keep her like a fish out of the water," says Fitoussi, while also acknowledging the French affinity for minimalism. "I know people in France are really, really afraid and scared about colors, about print."
Emily's On-the-Nose Heart Dress
A romantic nighttime moment backed by the gleaming Eiffel Tower is now an "Emily in Paris" archetype, established with the lead's Audrey Hepburn-inspired look in season one. This season, mixing business with pleasure, as per usual, Emily plans a bash promoting a heart-themed jewelry line on a bateaux mouches ride along the Seine — and invites Alfie.
"[Field and I] both concurred where to put this dress, because it was like a stupid joke — 'Okay, she has a date, so she will put on some hearts," Fitoussi says, with a laugh.
By chance, Field already had the off-the-shoulder dress by Tbilisi-based Anouki (above) in her wardrobe office, but hesitated: "Every time I looked at it, I thought, 'It's so cliché, this dress.' But then, when I read that scene, I said, 'Perfect.'"
Fitoussi envisioned a coat to finish off the whimsically romantic outfit, also comprised of a retro-ish updo from hair supervisor Odile Fourquin, a Valentino bag and red bow-accented heels by Patou. "It was just the final touch to make the dress crazier, but Pat didn't want it," says Fitoussi, with a little smile. "So, we fight."
She considered upwards of 50 options, which didn't fit the bill — or over the dress's pleated flounce-y sleeves. So, Fitoussi custom-designed a graphic-printed cocoon jacket from fabric found at the storied Tissus Market (also frequented by luxury and haute couture designers) in just two days, finishing an hour and a half before the shoot. But it was worth the effort, and Collins agreed: "Lily says, 'It's a Marylin," says Fitoussi.
Mindy's Dramatic Performance Looks
Estranged from her billionaire family, former nanny Mindy finally takes the plunge to pursue her dream singing career — which means we get to watch Tony-nominated Ashley Park belt her heart out and perform. Fittingly, Mindy unveils a series of absolutely fabulous performance ensembles, roaring out of the gate with a multi-color sequined half-tuxedo, half-burlesque costume custom-made by The Blonds in New York City (above).
"There's a certain sexiness that's very compatible with this actress, and I try to always infuse a bit of that in her costumes, without going overboard," says Field.
With a slight detour as a "Le Dame Pipi," Mindy ultimately scores an invitation to sing lead in a trio. She aims high and dresses for what she thinks is her big stage debut, but turns out to be busking — to be fair, it's lucrative street performing, enhanced with some physical comedy.
"She's like Catwoman with a cape," says Fitoussi of Mindy's spectacular ivory cloak-blazer from Martin Martin, topping a vintage La Perla mesh bodysuit over cut-out lingerie by French label Livy; sky-high boots by Terry de Havilland, a vintage Versace necklace and Chanel pearls accessorize the strong look (above).
"She was like a superhero," Fitoussi says. "She's going to fight and win a battle singing in the street, in front of many people, and fight with the mime. She's this super woman, a little bit."
Fittingly, Fitoussi also dressed the exuberant Mindy in dynamic, one-of-a-kind finery, including a PVC-swoop-detailed, off-the-shoulder reworked denim jacket from Patricia Field's ArtFashion collections. Plus, she worked with Paris-based Renaissance Project, a non-profit that provides haute couture sewing training to people from vulnerable communities and with limited access to the traditional job market. Mindy mesmerizes crowds singing on a bridge, wearing a python and Japanese waterscape-printed dress (above), topped by a feathered sheer cape, transformed from Yohji Yamamoto trousers by the group.
"I really like the ethic of this atelier because they're recycling fabrics and clothes and make something different and unique," says Fitoussi.
Camille's Toughened-Up French-Girl Vibe
Camille spent season one so trusting and generous with Emily — and ugh, Gabriel — but she's toughened up for season two, and for good reason.
"She was very nice and genuine at the beginning and someone just shit on her. She experienced betrayal," Fitoussi says. "That's why I wanted [to introduce her in season two] in a massive, oversize Balmain jacket — to put her more in power."
Camille's "very strong" and "avant-garde" silhouettes and textures — mostly in black and white — counter Emily's formidable colors and patterns. Because Camille is a Parisian It Girl (in real life and on-screen), Fitoussi concentrated on French brands, including Saint Laurent, Alexandre Vauthier, Chanel-owned Barrie, Celine and Coperni (for the three-piece skirt-suit worn to Emily's ill-fated birthday party, above.) She also mixed in Danish labels, like Elaine Hersby (for Camille's sculptural LBD) and Utzon (for her snakeskin-print shirt and pleated pants outfit worn to the Lavaux fragrance bash — and possibly hinting at her intentions).
Fitoussi happily raided the Isabel Marant archives for two of my favorite '80s-referential black leather looks: the wrap-front mini-dress with zebra print boots (above) and silver-studded puff-shoulder Aniba top and matching trousers ensemble that sartorially telegraph "fuck you, Gabriel" (my words.) "It's rock. [Isabel Marant] has this funny, girly, masculine [aesthetic for Camille]," says Fitoussi. "It's sexy. It's powerful. It's very French."
The New Beachwear in Saint-Tropez
The show ups its aspirational fantasy element this season with a glah-morous jaunt to the French Riviera — but not without overlap of professional and love-life foibles, like Matthieu Cadault (Charles Martins) understandably ditching an indiscreet Emily on the overnight train.
After a restless night solo in her sleeper car, Emily wanders into the blazing sun evoking a cinematic Grace Kelly in a vintage Courrèges blue striped sun-dress under a graphic patterned trench with no brand label, from vintage boutique Plaisir Palace. (Fitoussi also found the yellow plaid Courrèges jacket, at top, from the favorite "most secret" shop.)
The scarf, instead of the usual beret or bucket hat, was born out of practicality: With a tight shooting schedule, there wasn't enough time to restyle Collins's train hair into a new 'do, so Fitoussi suggested channeling a "dramatic siren of a '50s Hollywood," and director Andrew Fleming suggested a scarf. A member of the costume team then quickly grabbed her grandmother's one, stashed in her basement before the shoot. "Sometimes accidents sometimes make the best outfit," says Fitoussi.
Obviously, Mindy and Camille join a solo Emily in paradise (and enjoy a free villa). While the trio's adventures take place on the sunny, champagne-stocked — but champère-resistant — beaches of Saint-Tropez, their outfits aren't necessarily for the tropical resort. Fitoussi and Field decided to keep viewers on their toes (and definitely start new trends) by infusing unexpected, non-seasonal accessories, like Emily's fingerless driving gloves (which are part of a new collaboration by Field and luxury brand Seymoure.)
"In the '50s through the end of the '60s, women always wore gloves and hats. It's a fashion statement," says Fitoussi.
Mindy arrives at the pool not in flip-flops, but knee-high fringed suede boots (two above) by Roger Vivier. (She does don a more resort-friendly ruffled crop top and shorts by MSGM, above, later on.) And you can take Camille out of Paris, but you can't take the Paris out of Camille — case in point: her super chic Valentino white blazer (above), worn as a dress, and bejeweled buckle creepers, also by Roger Vivier. Fitoussi originally completed Camille's yachting ensemble with a literal white captain's hat by Maison Michel, but the topper was casting a shadow on Razat's face in the Riviera sun, so the directors nixed the accessory. "I was mad about destroying this design, but it's still very powerful. Alors, sometimes it's difficult for us," Fitoussi says, with a sigh.
Jeremy O. Harris's New Battle of Versailles
"My baby boy!" exclaims Fitoussi when Jeremy O. Harris's name comes up. In a follow-up to playing himself on "Gossip Girl," fashion's favorite playwright continues to have the time of his life as Pierre Cadault rival and fashion enfant terrible Gregory Elliott Duprée. He runs into Emily in Saint-Tropez wearing a wintry diamond-print faux fur coat by Casablanca, a ginormous flower-embellished tricorne hat by Maison Michel and white belted jumpsuit by luxury upcycled Berlin-based Rianna + Nina (above).
Harris and Fitoussi bonded in the fittings, especially over a toile de Jouy piece by Woolmark Prize finalist Egonlab, which Gregory wears during a tantrum gone viral. The guest star immediately honed in on the patterned look, which was hanging on a packed rack. "He said, 'Baby, show me these pieces here,'" Fitoussi says, adding: "I begged the producer to have him in season three."
The piece hints toward the season finale runway — another "Emily in Paris" staple. To debut his line of very-2021 shapewear, Gregory devises a Marie Antoinette-themed runway, which Emily christens, "Let Them Eat Cake."
Behind-the-scenes, Fitoussi played not only ghost-designer, but also runway stylist, facing a pretty monumental challenge: to bridge opulent Louis XVI-era costume references with modern streamlined, corset-negating underwear and the glorious setting of Versailles. Appropriately, she looked to an American cinema for inspiration: Sofia Coppola's Kirsten Dunst-starring (and blue Converse Chucks-cameoing) "Marie Antoinette."
"Even in France, [the film] became became a reference regarding 18th century movies," says Fittousi, who had just 15 days to pull off the entire show-within-a-show.
Supporting the decadent motif, Fitoussi put her attention towards a "macaron palette" to custom-dye the shapewear she and her team built and sourced. Body-positive concept brand AZ Factory, founded by the late Alber Elbaz, also sent her some stock.
"We were very close," says Fitoussi. "We wanted also to pay an homage to Alber. It was nice and funny and sad. He was still alive when we shot that, but he was ill, at this point. I said, 'Okay, maybe he'll see it. Maybe not.' But he was in this collection too."