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[Only IN Hollywood] And just like that, costume designer dishes on those Manolos, Chanels, and the most expensive skirt

Ruben V. Nepales
[Only IN Hollywood] And just like that, costume designer dishes on those Manolos, Chanels, and the most expensive skirt
'What's the next Carrie necklace? I don't know. There should only be one,' says costume designer Molly Rogers.

LOS ANGELES, USA – And just like that – Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte have returned, and so have the Roger belt, the Versace dress, the Manolos, the Chanel bags, as well as new items.

But this time, it’s costume designer Molly Rogers, not Patricia Field, who had the fun and challenging job scouring Saks Fifth Avenue, Sarah Jessica Parker’s personal archive of her Sex and the City clothes and accessories, and online shops.

Taking place 11 years after the events in the movie, Sex and the City 2And Just Like That finds the fashionista New York gals, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis, together again.

Kim Cattrall (Samantha Jones), who has a feud with Sarah Jessica, was not included, however. In HBO’s 10-episode revival of Sex and the City, which was originally created by Darren Starr, producer, writer, and director Michael Patrick King has found a way to explain Samantha’s absence.

THE OFFICE. Molly Rogers, in her ‘office’: ‘This is the number one thing people ask me. Can I be a fly on the wall in the fitting room? Or can I be a fly on the wall in her closet? I just want to look around for a minute.’ Photo by HBO.

Molly, who worked with Patricia on the original Sex and the City series and the two film adaptations, has her creative eyes and hands full with the three returning stars plus new characters: Che Diaz (Sara Ramirez), Seema Patel (Sarita Choudhury), Lisa Todd Wexley (Nicole Ari Parker), and Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman).

In a video conversation, Molly, costume designer du jour, admitted that she was actually wearing a pajama top.

About her charming Southern accent, Molly, whose credits include Murphy Brown and Ugly Betty, smiled and said, “I cannot get rid of it. It gets heavier and heavier as I get older, or when I start to drink, or talk to my mother. I am from North Carolina.”

Complimented on the art and apartment in the background, she laughed and explained, “Oh my gosh. Thank you. My place is literally under construction right now. I forgot you could see all that.”

On her process costuming the Big Apple ladies more than a decade later, Molly said, “They are such archetypes. I don’t think there’s much wiggle room. The person who had changed the most per story was Miranda. She had a different hair color for one, so that was a big clue and something fun to work with.”

FULLY STOCKED. When it comes to mixing and matching, Molly has a lot to work with. Photo by HBO.

“But I felt like my idea for the new show was just to modernize. Just to see who new was out there because they’re just so written-in-stone. The older you get, you know what looks good on you and you don’t experiment as much.”

“Not that you’re set in your ways but you just have this kind of uniform, I guess. And that was fun to play with, to see what was new out there.”

“What changed so dramatically was how I shopped. It was a totally different world. Stores had closed, online is how you shop a lot now. It just was a totally different experience because it opened the world up in a different way.”

“But no, they pretty much stayed in their lanes. Charlotte as the polished Upper East Sider, Carrie as the whimsical, experimental New Yorker. And Miranda, because she wasn’t a lawyer anymore, was just a little more relaxed tailoring.”

PRIM. Kristin Davis as Charlotte. Still courtesy of HBO.

“I hate numbers myself so I like to ignore my number,” Molly declared about dressing up the three stars who are now in their mid-50s. “I tried to ignore their number. I didn’t think there was anything constrictive about 55.”

“I don’t care if you’re 25 or 55 – we all have areas that we prefer to get in better shape or whatever. But no one came into the fitting room with issues. We just put together outfits that if you felt confident in them, then you were happy, and then it was good-to-go and it went to camera.”

“I cannot believe how fortunate I am that I was on the original series because we had a system that we set up in the fitting room and it invites collaboration.”

“It’s really helpful to put together costumes with the actors when they know what they’re doing. It’s really fun and it elevates the experience. Sometimes it elevates what you had in mind originally.”

LAYERS. Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie. Still courtesy of HBO.

Molly emphasized that it’s costume design, so it’s not about simply shopping for tutus or necklaces.

“You don’t make it up all on your own in a bubble in the fitting room or when you’re in the store. You have read the script and the episode, and you know what the actor physically needs. A raincoat or whatever.”

“But I feel like there are little, subtle ways. For example, Miranda wanted to be very relaxed-looking when she was on the couch in that important scene with Steve (David Eigenberg), talking about their marriage.”

“You don’t want anything to pull focus. You really want to set things that are quiet and allow the dialogue to come forward. Unlike using hats or something, where you really want to be the peacock in the scene.”

BLONDE. Cynthia Nixon as Miranda (R) with newcomer Sara Ramirez. Still courtesy of HBO.

“But I do take a lot of information from the story. I take a great deal of information from Michael Patrick King, who illuminates parts of scenes that went over my head. I didn’t realize you were talking about change in that cocktail scene or loss.”

“So it’s really helpful to have an executive producer like that, who shares and invites you in on a deeper level.”

“I can’t say that I’m the best reader. I love to read but when I read the script, I’m like, ‘Ooh, she’s outside. That’s a good time for great shoes. It’s an exterior.’ ”

“I think that usually, because it’s a comedy or it’s light, I don’t go as deep as maybe I should.”

On the fashion ensembles in the limited series that’s sparking new interest among the original series’ devotees and attracting new converts, Molly grinned and replied, “We tried. We had so much fun doing it.”

“The rule in the business is, if you had fun doing it, you probably didn’t do a good job. But we did.”

“I’m my worst critic and I see mistakes of things that I wish I had done better, like a different belt or things like that. But honestly, it’s a dream job.”

As for picking the accessories, Molly admitted, “I have always hated to deal with the jewelry. It’s very time-consuming. It involves insurance. It was a chore that I let assistants get into.”

“But I was bitten by an Elizabeth Taylor bug on this show. All of a sudden, because of Instagram, I was seeing lots of people that I wanted to meet. I just kept calling it in to see what would land.”

“I knew we were not going to have a breakout Carrie necklace. That’s kind of a unicorn experience. It was so organic. There’s no way. What’s the next Carrie necklace? I don’t know. There should only be one.”

One of the looks that stirred buzz was Sarah’s white tutu and sweater combo.

“The tutu that she threw the rainbow strip sweater on with, and went to the deli in – that was pure. It changed that outfit. That’s the perfect example of me, thinking I should do something there.”

TUTU. Sara Jessica Parker as Carrie. Still courtesy of HBO.

She elaborated on how they came up with the look: “Michael Patrick King, Sarah Jessica, and I rethought and changed what she was going to wear. She came in from the night before. She had two options. Wear something out of the old closet or put on what she had the night before at the comedy club.”

“Of course, we wanted to put on something out of the old closet. We put together this beautiful dress that she wears at a nightclub. It’s cream silk and it has red roses on it. It was stunning.”

“We took the picture to Michael Patrick King and said, this will be beautiful coming down the stoop the next morning and going to the deli. He was like, you’re missing this crazy opportunity to do something that is meaningful.”

“We went and looked and there was this big crinoline hanging there in her closet that came out from under a thrift store wedding gown or something. I don’t even remember.”

“We were like, okay that, with a sweatshirt or something or a t-shirt. We would’ve really missed out on that kind of nostalgic moment.”

On finally being able to search for wardrobe items in stores after the lockdown due to the pandemic, Molly stressed, “That is so important to me. I’m a tactile person. It’s very difficult for me to speed shop. That’s what I do when I’m shopping online.”

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“I’m just speed shopping because you can just pull it all in and return it. You just grab wider.”

“When I’m in a store, I look at every single piece of clothing. I don’t let anything get past me.”

“If I walk into Saks Fifth Avenue when they open at 11:00, I’m there when they close at 5:00. My feet are killing me. I haven’t eaten. But I want to get through it and not miss anything.”

“Going into a store for the first time (since the pandemic), first of all, there was no one in them. It wasn’t like I was fighting a crowd of people.”

“But I was really scared because everything was just so easy to catch, a variant or whatever. Being in that N-95 mask for eight hours in Saks – it’s not for the weak.”

Molly shared what many people tell her: “This is the number one thing people ask me. Can I be a fly on the wall in the fitting room? Or can I be a fly on the wall in her closet? I just want to look around for a minute.”

CARRIE. Carrie Bradshaw knows her way around accessories. Photo by HBO.

On shopping for herself, Molly revealed, “I have buyer’s remorse just like anyone else. I recently searched for a coat that came out last spring. I really wanted it. I waited too late for it to go on sale. I couldn’t find one.”

“Last week, one in the United States. I bought it. It’s the wrong size. I’m wearing it anyway.”

“It’s a little tight under my arms but I’m wearing it. I love it. I want it. Maybe I’ll cut the coat’s underarm out or something.”

When Molly is shopping for her projects, like for the other Miranda, the Prada-wearing devil (the divine Meryl Streep), she clarified, “It is a misconception that I do not have a budget, or we didn’t have a budget on The Devil Wears Prada, or the budget on The Devil Wears Prada was $1 million.”

The Devil Wears Prada happened because of my Rolodex and my friend whom I could call and say, ‘I am on this movie. Will you loan us?’ And everybody answered the call for that movie except for a few people.”

“But yeah, the people above me that answer to the studio get in a lot of trouble if I’m a loose cannon with the money. I have to be really careful because I want to work again.”

“And those producers, they have to answer to studio people. You have to watch it. You have to borrow on that show. You really have to. We could never, in a million years, buy all those handbags.”

Molly dished on the most expensive item that she bought for the new show.

“Sarah Jessica wears a Dior lacy skirt that is so fine. It was ready-to-wear but it was beautiful. That skirt was expensive.”

“I felt horrible. I went to the producer and said, ‘I’m buying a $4,000 skirt.’ And I did. But it was worn with a t-shirt. So, the high and the low.”

Molly’s best quip came when asked about costumes for the men in the show: “They’re just accessories.”

Back to Ms. Streep, Molly rhapsodized about working with her in The Devil Wears Prada: “It has to be a highlight of my career with Pat – being in a fitting room with Meryl. I just felt like it was historical for a fashion person.”

“We met with Meryl at her home before she went on a European vacation. She looked at both of us and said, ‘I will lose 15 pounds before I come back.’ We were like, ‘We don’t believe you because you’re going to Italy.’ ”

“But she did. It really helped because we were pulling so many samples for her. So, she had trimmed down.”

“I can compare it to shopping for Carrie. You really have to go deep so that you can present something that really isn’t a trend.”

“Pat and I spent an entire day at a Donna Karan archive warehouse out in New Jersey and Annie (Hathaway) and Meryl wore a lot of it. It’s unidentifiable because it’s timeless and classic. I think The Devil Wears Prada really holds up.”

On the questions that many viewers ask, including what happens to the clothes after the shows or movies wrap up, Molly answered, “You may know or be aware that Sarah Jessica has kept an archive of a lot of her original outfits from the original television series and the two movies.”

“So, that was something that I could pull from. That was really a wonderful place to go because I knew that a lot of fans of the show consider some of the accessories as friends.”

“And they wanted to see that long-lost friend that they hadn’t seen in a while, like a blue Manolo that she got married in, or the Roger belt.”

“So S.J. granted me access to her archives and I went and cherry-picked. I didn’t want to be disrespectful to these wonderful things from the past that people really enjoyed seeing again.”

PARIS. Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie. Still courtesy of HBO.

“I didn’t want to do overkill. I wanted them to have a real moment in the television series, the new one. So, there was a nice continuity, and it was like an Easter egg for the fans of the show.”

“Now, she’s pretty much the only one who has really hoarded her clothes, which I think is a wonderful thing. She can definitely have a museum show one day but most of the clothes for the three women, they get to keep them if they like them.”

“There’s a lot of loaned things that have to go back. We don’t own them. We don’t own all those Chanel bags. But right now, they’re all in storage, awaiting news of the pickup or no pickup.”

As I write this, Sarah Jessica was quoted by Variety as saying that she is interested – “definitely, yeah” – in a second season. She added, “Michael and I spoke two weeks ago, and said: ‘OK, when are we going to talk about this?’ Because there’s a calendar and you don’t want to let too much time pass. There feels like there’s momentum.”

Asked if she has been invited to create a look for the Met Gala, Molly said candidly, “I’m not that high up the food chain for the Met. I don’t really run in fashion circles like that. And Pat never really did either. I’ll speak for Pat because we’re cut from the same cloth.”

“We’re downtown girls. That’s rarefied air, I feel like, up at the Met. It’s kind of a different circle of people.”

“Has anyone asked for me to pull from all the wardrobe from those other shows and do something?” Molly repeated aloud a question before replying.

“I don’t own those clothes. ABC owns Ugly Betty and they’ve probably fed it into their rental house on their lot.”

The Devil Wears Prada – who even knows where any of those pieces are? Because a lot of that was loaned. The studio owns it.”

“It’s not like the three girls go on and just like that, they get to take their clothes. The studio usually owns it. After a time, they recycle it into the pieces that you can rent on their lot.”

The 2002 Emmy winner for best costumes for a series (Sex and the City), which she shared with Patricia and several others, recalled that she was not into fashion when she was growing up.

GLOVES. Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie. Still courtesy of HBO.

“When I was young, I wasn’t one of those people that was sitting on my bed looking at fashion magazines. I looked at makeup and things like that.”

“When I was 10 years old, I wanted my own face mask company. I remember getting into oatmeal things and stuff. But as I went to college, I still wasn’t that interested in fashion.”

“After I graduated from college (with a degree in psychology), I went to London. And that is where I saw people dressing for themselves on the street, trolley, bus. And it was really inspiring because I was into the music scene there.”

“So, I was into fringe things like Siouxsie and the Banshees that have nothing to do with Carrie. But I have to say a that Thierry Mugler passing – I don’t think anybody’s going to come along like him.”

“Those fashion shows are inspirational. I don’t care if they were 30 some years ago. They were ahead of their time. They’re stunning. They influenced me to today, I would say.”

Patricia, who was in Europe working on Emily in Paris, recommended Molly to be the costume designer of And Just Like That.

“When they called me and offered me And Just Like That, I have to say this,” she shared. “For me, the most challenging thing is crewing up. The people below me, I live and die by them.”

“If the returns aren’t done, or if things are missing, I am only as good as the people who are beneath me. And it is difficult, a lot of times, to make your team diverse. It’s a real challenge.”

“Talking to the lead actress and saying, ‘Okay, what are we going to do this time?’ Those kinds of things, I’m just biting at the bit to get started and to start shopping and to meet new people.”

“But crewing up, I find really challenging because I want to have an incredible experience, and it’s a lot of personalities, as you must well know.”

As our Zoom chat wound down, Molly recounted how she ended up collaborating with Patricia.

“I just spoke at a fashion school in LA, and that was the big question there with all those students. I went to New York as a very naïve person. I had read an article about this woman named Patricia Field.”

“I heard she had a really famous store that was like a nightclub. I felt like a real country bumpkin who had just gotten into town off the bus, with a straw hat on almost.”

“But I went in there my first day in New York and I introduced myself to Pat. She was working that day with Maripol, a French who was styling Madonna in 1984. Pat and Maripol were looking at rubber bracelets.”

Molly said in another story that while Patricia and Maripol were picking those rubber bracelets for Madonna, she started folding the t-shirt merchandise.

“Pat hired me (on the spot). I started work with her and we became dear friends. She carried me along with her when she started styling.”

MOLLY. Grateful for the career break given to her by Patricia, Molly hopes to see more people helping each other in jobs: ‘There’s always room. But I want to say I am all for women…. We should really do more and extra lift each other up. We all need to push, and we all need to band together as women. We could improve.’ Photo by HBO.

Grateful for the career break given to her by Patricia, Molly hopes to see more people helping each other in jobs.

“There’s always room,” she stressed. “But I want to say I am all for women, and I think women are very critical of other women. We should really do more and extra lift each other up.”

“We all need to push, and we all need to band together as women. We could improve.”

But Molly also emphasized hard work. “I worked very hard for Pat from the very beginning. That’s really important – when students ask me that question. It is important to come from the bottom up.”

“I know a lot about a crew and production. I started out counting combat boots on a show that Pat was doing. I wasn’t in the fitting with all brands.”

“A lot of kids think, if they work for me, they’re going to be in the fitting and be picking out shoes for Carrie. But it’s really important to get a well-rounded education and start wherever you can get in. And that’s what I did.” – Rappler.com

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Ruben V. Nepales

Based in Los Angeles, Ruben V. Nepales is an award-winning journalist whose honors include prizes from the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards, a US-wide competition, and the Southern California Journalism Awards, presented by the Los Angeles Press Club.