After “Emily in Paris” hit Netflix last fall, the series – about a young American marketer stumbling through life in a new city – has been derided for portraying a fantastic version of the movie. French culture. Parisians have bristled with the inaccuracies and clichés of the show, from people who smoke in the office to the number of berets on the screen.
“This is the show the French love to hate,” said Marylin Fitoussi, the show’s costume designer.
Still, the show offered a welcome escape for those stuck at home. It was a hot bath for weary souls; a silly, romantic and candy-colored adventure through a beautiful city untouched by the pandemic. Clothing played a role in this.
Ms. Fitoussi had originally tried realism with certain outfits. For Mindy (Ashley Park), a moonlighting heiress as a nanny and Emily’s first real friend in Paris, her instinct was to dress her in comfortable clothes and sneakers. But that changed after a conversation with the show’s costume consultant, Patricia Field, known for her fantastic costumes on “Sex and the City.”
“They told me the magic phrase: ‘Marylin, we don’t care about reality,'” said Ms. Fitoussi, who appeared on a Zoom call wearing a black turban, a gold-collared shirt under a printed yellow jacket and an array of huge sculptural rings. “It’s my mojo in life.”
For Season 2, released on December 22, Ms. Fitoussi and Ms. Field were determined to push the show’s fashion even further. Emily (Lily Collins) navigates a sticky love triangle but settles down in Paris life, and her style has become more sophisticated, if not less eye-catching. Even Emily’s imperious boss, Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), pushes the boundaries of French workwear, showing up in metallic costumes and dramatic bangs.
As these outfits show, more is always more in Emily’s Paris.
A bold print and a powerful suit
Emily has evolved beyond a certain Eiffel Tower print from Season 1, but the obvious remains her signature. For an evening on the Seine promoting a collection of heart-shaped jewelry from Chopard, she wears a white Anouki dress covered in red hearts. Ms. Field was not sold on the dress when Ms. Fitoussi purchased it. “At first I just didn’t know where the hell I would use it because it sounds so silly in a way,” Ms. Field said on a video call. “But along with this scene has arrived.”
Ms. Fitoussi said she liked puffed sleeves. “Pat hated sleeves and I said, ‘The sleeveless dress is nothing. “It’s just a hit with hearts,” she said. (The red and pink striped jacket Emily wears with the dress had to be custom made to fit over them.)
Mindy, meanwhile, joined a group, bringing her vocal talents to the streets of Paris. (Ms. Park was nominated for a Tony and a Grammy.) Her performance scenes gave the costume team a chance to go wild with sequins and feathers. Example: the sparkling green Zadig & Voltaire suit that she wears to sing during the Chopard party, associated with sparkling Roger Vivier pumps.
“We are so used to Mindy being very sexy, very feminine, very outrageous,” Ms. Fitoussi said. “I said, ‘How about a costume? “”
To give this look “the Mindy touch,” in Ms. Fitoussi’s words, they upped the glamor quotient with a vintage rhinestone necklace flowing down her throat.
A new approach to French style
Sylvie is the first to denounce Emily on her ignorance of French culture and her American arrogance, berating her for talking shop at parties and for treating Paris as her personal “amusement park”. But while Emily’s boss is in many ways the archetype of the Frenchwoman in the series, Ms. Fitoussi had no interest in dressing her like one.
“I know how to draw the perfect Frenchwoman”, she says, spelling out “boring” basics: bluejean, t-shirt, white sneakers, black or navy jacket, “beige if we are crazy today”.
For season 2, Ms. Fitoussi dressed Sylvie in several costumes in bright red and silver tones. (The silver became known on the set as the “Mick Jagger costume”.) Alaïa belt.
“It’s my idea of a business group,” Ms. Fitoussi said. “Black skirt, but instead of a white, black or navy blue, you put on gold.”
Design for a new character
Some of the season’s most extravagant looks belong to a new character, a fashion designer named Gregory Elliott Dupree (Jeremy O. Harris). He first appeared in Saint-Tropez with a Casablanca green and white faux fur coat slung over the shoulder and a supple Patou hat on his head (accessorized with a yellow Dolce & Gabbana flower pin).
“The truth is that when Jeremy O. Harris walked through the door he was dressed“Ms. Field said.” I’m like ‘Perfect. I have no work to do.
Although Ms. Fitoussi has a special affinity for Gregory – “If I were a man, I would look exactly like Gregory Dupree” – she identifies strongly with Emily’s fashion sensibility. “I’m always very colorful and I mix the patterns because I was a textile designer,” she said. “In Paris, people call me ‘the parrot’, call me ‘the clown’.”
For her, the important thing is that Emily retains her daring sensibility, even as she begins to learn the language and customs of her new town.
“I don’t want her to look like an ordinary French girl,” Ms. Fitoussi said. “I don’t want to make a clone of what is French or what is supposed to be French fashion. If I do this, I fail.