Netflix new series “Emily in Paris” created by Darren Star is generating a lot of chatter ranging from higher praise for its stylish approach to pure hatred for the 20-something lead (played by Lily Collins who resembles Emily Oberg!) for an array of reasons starting with her inability to speak French while working in Paris.
As significant as the fashion on the show is, it makes sense that icon Patricia Field was tapped to handle costumes, especially given the magic she worked on Star’s “Sex and the City” series.
Working her genius, Field’s fashion choices bring the series alive, making each character lift off through deft clothing choices. Emily’s wardrobe is where Field shines, putting her in a signature mix of coveted luxury labels, vintage and her own club-infused creations. Whatever you may think of the content, watching Field sprinkle her magic fashion dust is a thing to behold.
In episode nine, the series tackles the concept of streetwear and the results are…interesting. Yes, Emily occasionally wears sneakers (and a Hood by Air and Off-White jacket!) but they feel like place holders worn in between an eye-popping wardrobe of coquettish dresses and skirts as paired with a series of Christian Louboutin heels, which, as much as she’s constantly on the go are at times painful to behold.
Overall, however, the show skims past streetwear and one can sense that Field is out of her comfort zone when it comes to addressing it in a way that rings bells for sneaker lovers. Yes, she’s a genius of runway fashion and was an architect of the ’90s club kid look that defined an era, but the deep nerdiness of streetwear and its obsession with specific labels and silhouettes is absent, which feels a bit odd given Emily and her peers’ young age.
Fields is also hampered by the script that takes takes an old school view of fashion whereby European fashion houses rein supreme and streetwear labels are mere rabble rousing, art student outsiders (which was never the case but okay!).
In a scene in which Emily attempts to describe graffiti-crazed streetwear brand Grey Space (lead by a Black and Asian French designer–shout out to Public School!) to washed designer Pierre Cadault (Jean-Christophe Bouvet), she highlights the show’s disconnect with the category with a description positioning the category as an art movement rather than the influential and multi-billion dollar global business it is.
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#EmilyinParis tackles streetwear (fashion as a fearless concept!) with unintended hilarious results, pitting made up streetwear label Grey Space against Pierre Cadault, a washed legacy designer. Because this show looks like it was conceived in 2010, it makes sense that in the end Grey Space suffers a humiliating defeat at the hands of the triumphant Cadault. Note, costumes are handled by legend #PatriciaField! What are your thoughts on the episode and the show?
Emily explains, “Grey Space think of fashion as a concept. The idea that who we are is constantly evolving. So They take something that already exists and they add to it. And people like them because they don’t follow the rules. They’re fearless and they’re taking down the barriers to fashion.”
Cadault waves off her explanation and dismisses the label as the opposite of what fashion should be: “Starting from zero and making something all their own.” In an attempt to soothe Cadault, Emily back pedals and adds effusively, “Grey Space admire your work. They wish that they could do what you do. You are the original.”
In the end, the victory belongs to Cadault who manages to upstage Grey Space during Paris Fashion Week, a dramatic ending in which “original” runway fashion delivers a humiliating defeat to “ringarde” (basic) streetwear.
Meanwhile back in reality, streetwear’s scope and influence continues to grow globally with multiple major European fashion houses signing streetwear designers to lead their labels’ creative direction.
“Emily in Paris” is appealing because it’s light and fun and full of eye candy in both fashion and human form. It’s the opposite of serious so perhaps all told it not only makes perfect sense but it’s better that it missed the mark on streetwear. Still, it’s hard not to wish to see Field wrangle it with as much cleverness as she does everything else.
Image: Carole Bethuel for Netflix.
Check out the official trailer below.