Sex and the City was and is revolutionary in every way.
The portrayal of women.
The open and frank representation of sex and relationships.
The endurance of genuine female friendship.
The exploration of conflicting values and desires from life.
The depiction of everyday women as high fashion consumers.
The platform provided to viewers in experiencing exclusive Fashion Weeks.
The candid portrayal of women seeking more out of life.
Women unashamedly enjoying a consumer driven lifestyle.
Women who do not adhere to traditional roles and expectations.
Whilst the protagonists, messages and depictions in Sex and the City are controversial and hotly debated, the ninety-four episode long series changed the portrayal and perception of women’s fashion indefinitely.
Sex and the City chronicles the experiences of four single thirty-something year old Manhattan women bewildered by the dating scene.
Narrator and primary protagonist Carrie Bradshaw is a sex columnist who resides on the Upper East Side and is known for her excentric designer taste. Carrie is known for her extravagant style and expensive taste in footwear and bags. Carrie is famously known for spending her life’s earnings on designer shoes and subsequently cannot afford to continue residing in her apartment without the intervention of her friends. Carrie’s most recognisable life mantra is “I like my money where I can see it – hanging in my closet.”
Charlotte York is a privileged overachiever who works as an art dealer and holds more traditional family values. Charlotte’s style reflects her personality. Elegant, traditional, feminine and put together. Charlotte’s style is refined, prim and nods to the tropes of a traditional Chanel aesthetic.
Samantha Jones, the eldest of the friendship group, is sexually liberated and approaches sex with the same attitude as Manhattan men – the primary goal not being a relationship or meaningfulness, rather self-gratification. Samantha’s style is best recognised by a modern two-piece power suit. Samantha’s style is sleek, sexy and confident. Samantha is not one to prescribe to the notion of dressing in an age appropriate manner.
Miranda Hobbes is a lawyer whose style is androgynous and less trend driven. Miranda is the least consumer focused character, whose primary goal is to excel in commercial law. Whilst all four protagonists vary vastly different in style, personality and ambition, they are equally fabulous and continue to influence fashion trends.
Sex and the City has undeniably changed how everyday women perceive and consume fashion. Whilst Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda are arguably the glitterati of society; attending exclusive high fashion parties, seen at art-scene bars and delighting in the luxuries of life, they are portrayed as somewhat unremarkable. The kind of women that could be your friends, women who are transparent with their lives, women who too struggle with rent control, finding Mr Right and trying to map out their lives. Sex and the City is a vehicle in which women throughout the world see themselves in. Their lives, their friends, their professions, ambitions and desires. Naturally, the influence of the HBO series was so vast that a shoe, bag, dress or accessory featured on the series can rise to cult status after airing. That same everyday woman who watches the glamorous protagonists of Sex in the City desire the designer goods and fashions Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda sport. Consequently, notable pieces and designer goods featured throughout the series are recognised by women worldwide. The success of cult fashion pieces can therefore be attributed to the success of Sex and the City worldwide.
1. The Fendi Baguette Bag
Sex and the City helped elevate the Fendi Baguette purse to an ‘it’ bag.
The baguette was immortalised wthin the series when Carrie and Samantha who refused to purchase replicas of the famous bag. The baguette was featured heavily within the series since.
The House of Fendi is an Italian luxury fashion designer that specialises in leather and fur goods. Fendi is a brand that is not accessible to the everyday consumer. Fendi is a designer House that produces exclusive, rare and exotic pieces that price out the lay person. Sex in the City does however revolutionise the perception of exclusive Fashion Houses and inspired everyday women who worked for their median wage to lust after the previously unattainable bag. Sex and the City started a thirst in everyday women for pieces and fashion trends that were not intended or designed by fashion houses for the everyday women. To be blunt, a lot of the protagonists within Sex and the City should not have been able to afford the luxury bags, shoes and ready-to-wear on the average incomes of people working in their professions. Sex and the City made us aspirational in everyday life and in fashion.
The exclusivity of the pieces are evidenced through the legnths the production and designing tems of Sex and the City encountered trying to borrow luxury goods for filming.
Parker reveals that in the SATC’s early seasons, Patricia Field had to source clothes from thrift stores to stay within the show’s budget–until Fendi, “the first important design house to loan us items,” came along with the Baguette. “It really opened the floodgates and influenced the storyline – especially Carrie’s habit of spending more money on fashion than her home.” After that, she says, other design houses were more willing to loan items as well.
Importantly, at Fendi’s spring summer ’19 show in Milan the humble baguette resurfaced, proving that Carrie and Sex in the City’s influence continues decades after the series.
2. The Belt Bag
The 1990’s trend was not previously looked upon favourably within the noughties.
The belt bag was the uniform of the tourist, dog walker, lad and fashion astute individual.
The resurgence of the belt bag by fashion houses and designers alike proves that Carrie and Samantha had the means of making a fashion faux pas into a fashion cult item.
Whilst the street wear style bag is unlikely to be considered a timeless and forever fashionable piece, Carrie and Samantha had their fingers on the pulse.
3. Dior Saddle Bag
Never laugh at your mother when she imparts, in all her wisdom, “fashion always return.”
The Dior monogram print and saddle bag are back and lord are they hot.
The come back of the Dior Saddle Bag has proven that not only was Carrie a trendsetter, but also had an eye for timeless fashion. Never was this more evident than Dior’s recent re-release of the saddle bag at the hefty price-point ranging between three thousand to five thousand dollars. The equestrian themed bag is making a comeback and is enjoying its second round of cult status – a status that undeniably would not be attained without the influence of Sex and the City.
In 1999, John Galliano’s junior year at Dior, the saddle bag made its debut alongside thigh-high boots, leather wrap skirts, and tiny blouses that screamed Wild West and clung to logomania. The following summer, Patricia Field put the sinuous accessory in Carrie Bradshaw’s hands for her first date with hunky furniture designer Aidan Shaw in season three of Sex And The City. After Sarah Jessica Parker appeared on the show with a white satin version framed in tan leather, the saddle bag made its way to celebrity wrists from Paris Hilton’s to Beyoncé’s.
4. Manolo Blahnik
“I have this little substance abuse problem… Expensive footwear.”
Manolo Blahnik’s cult status was immortalised through Sex and the City.
Not only was Carrie an avid ambassador for the designer, but the shoe label also played a central role in notable episodes, particularly Carrie’s realisation that she spent near $40,000 on shoes and couldn’t afford her flat, exclaiming “please sir, you can take my Fendi baguette, you can take my ring and watch but you can’t take my Manolo Blahniks” whilst being held up, having her shoes stolen at a friends baby shower and sporting ‘something blue’ Manolo Blahnik shoes on her wedding day.
Near nine years after the release of the Sex in the City movie, the continued influence of Carrie Bradshaw in the fashion spehere is evident. Her satin court royal blue wedding shoe with a crystal buckle (otherwise known as the Hangisi Pump) continues to be the most searched for wedding shoe.
Based on search, sales and active browsing figures across global fashion search engine Lyst‘s 12,000 partner brands, plus a qualitative survey of 100 brides-to-be, Manolo Blahnik’s encrusted Hangisi Jewel pumps (aka Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding shoes in the Sex and the City movie) are the most searched for wedding shoes online, with Jimmy Choo and Sophia Webster heels following closely behind.
Manolo Blahnik’s are so inextricably linked to Carrie Bradshaw’s style that actress Sarah Jessica Parker who embodies Carrie, collaborated with the designer to create an exclusive range.
5. Macbook (Apple) Laptop
The Apple Macbook plays a vital role as the primary tool Carrie diarises her life and completes her column on. The Macbook is an extension of her style, trendy and forward thinking in a day and age of PC.
Irrespective of whether you personally like the characters, opinions, themes or dynamic of Sex and the City, the continued influence the series has had on fashion is undeniable.