Carrie Bradshaw and the art of fashion messaging

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Sarah Jessica Parker in character as Carrie Bradshaw - Getty Images
Sarah Jessica Parker in character as Carrie Bradshaw - Getty Images

What’s in a giant bird headpiece? More than meets the eye in the case of Sarah Jessica Parker, currently reprising the role of Carrie Bradshaw for Sex And The City’s upcoming reboot series And Just Like That.

After filming began in New York last month, Parker, now 56, has for the first time been spotted delivering scenes with actor Chris Noth, 66, who played her on screen husband Mr Big in the television show and subsequent movies.

Parker’s costume in the first glimpse features a headband holding a large bird in flight - a possible warning sign as to where the couple’s relationship is heading.

Leaked pages from the script suggest that divorce may be on the cards - and costume design duo Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago may just have confirmed it with a subliminal sartorial message.

Fashion symbolism has always been integral to Sex And The City and hawk-eyed fans may remember that the last time Bradshaw wore a feathered headpiece was when Big stood her up at the altar in the franchise’s 2008 film. The peacock-like colours emphasised how the writer herself was peacocking - getting caught up in planning a lavish wedding and not noticing that she had alienated her husband-to-be until it was too late.

Carrie Bradshaw in her Vivienne Westwood wedding dress - Getty Images
Carrie Bradshaw in her Vivienne Westwood wedding dress - Getty Images

“After ten years of what he already put me through, he couldn’t make the effort and get out of the car,” the character lamented to her friends after she was jilted. “I made the effort. I put a bird on my head.”

Rogers and Santiago seem keen to emulate the way that the show’s original costume designer Patricia Field used fashion to enhance and underscore the plotlines. Reprising the characters more than a decade on, they are also showcasing how costume can be used to bring a character’s life story full circle.

In the case of Bradshaw over the years, it has particularly been possible to draw conclusions about her love life based on what she’s wearing - certain clothes are sentimental to her relationship with Mr Big, others hark back to her single days, and others point to break-ups and bust-ups she may rather forget.

Carrie Bradshaw in her Vivienne Westwood wedding dress - Shutterstock
Carrie Bradshaw in her Vivienne Westwood wedding dress - Shutterstock

Patricia Field had endless fun with her storyboards - the freedom-symbolising $5 tulle ballet skirt which she sourced for Bradshaw to wear in the show’s original opening credits epitomised a care-free Carrie, twirling around the city. The look was brought full circle in the finale episode, when she leaves boyfriend Aleksandr Petrovsky, takes to the streets of Paris and is finally reunited with Mr Big - wearing a tulle skirt.

Carrie Bradshaw's revenge dress - Shutterstock
Carrie Bradshaw's revenge dress - Shutterstock

Other memorable looks included Bradshaw’s revenge dress in series two (after Big tells her he is engaged to Natasha Naginsky, Bradshaw wanders past the site of his engagement party wearing a knock-out bias-cut white slip dress) and the Dior newspaper dress, first worn in series three as she attempts to apologise to Naginsky for cheating with Big. The busy headline print underscores the drama of it all - she got that one back out of the wardrobe for a dinner date with her now-husband in the second movie too.

Manolo Blahnik’s crystal-buckle Hangisi pumps were Bradshaw’s shoe of choice when she finally did marry Big in a low key ceremony - they had played an earlier role in the script too when Big proposed to her with the shoes in lieu of a diamond. They, too, have been dusted off and worn again during And Just Like That.

We will have to wait and see what symbolic role they play this time around. Fan accounts on social media including @justlikethatcloset are already dedicated to unpicking the fashion details and plot twists ahead.

It is often easy to over-analyse everyday fashion moments that could be coincidence, but in the case of the Sex And The City costumes, nothing was ever an accident. It encouraged fashion fans to get invested - in And Just Like That prepare for more of the same.

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