After “Emily in Paris” last aired on Netflix, the series — about a young American marketer stumbling through life in a new city — was ridiculed for portraying a fictionalized version of French culture. Parisians took on the show’s inaccuracies and clichés, from people smoking in the office to the number of berets onscreen.
“This is the series French people love to hate,” said Marilyn Fitoussi, the show’s costume designer.
Nevertheless, the show provided a welcome escape for those stuck at home. It was a hot bath for weary souls; A silly, romantic, candy-colored romp through a beautiful city untouched by the pandemic. Clothing played a part in this.
Ms. Fitousi originally tried realism with some outfits. For Mindy (Ashley Park), a heiress moonlighting as a nanny and Emily’s first real friend in Paris, her instinct was to wear her casuals and sneakers. But that changed after a conversation with the show’s costume consultant, Patricia Field, who is known for her fictional costumes on “Sex and the City.”
“They told me the magic sentence: ‘Marilyn, we don’t care about reality,'” said Ms. Fitousi, who appeared on a Zoom call in a black turban, a gold-collared shirt under a printed yellow jacket, and more. Array of huge sculptural rings. “That’s my mojo in life.”
For Season 2 on 22 December, Ms. Fitousi and Ms. Field were determined to take the show’s fashion even further. Emily (Lily Collins) is navigating a sticky love triangle but settling into life in Paris, and her style becomes more sophisticated, if no less flashy. Even milie’s tyrannical owner, Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), is pushing the boundaries of French work wear, turning to metallic suits and dramatic fringe.
As these outfits show, there’s always more at Emily’s Paris.
A bold print and a power suit
Emily has outgrown a certain Eiffel Tower print from Season 1, but the clarity remains her signature. For a party on the Seine to promote the heart-shaped jewelry collection by Chopard, she wears a white Anuki dress covered in red hearts. Ms. Fields didn’t sell on that dress when Ms. Fitousi bought it. “Initially, I didn’t know where in the hell I’d use this, because it kind of sounds kind of silly,” Ms Fields said over a video call. “But along came that scene.”
Ms. Fitousi said she loves puffy sleeves. “Pat hated sleeves, and I said, ‘A dress without sleeves is nothing. It’s just a tube with some hearts,'” she said. (The red and pink striped jacket Emily wore with the dress, Had to be custom made to fit over them.)
Meanwhile, Mindy has joined a band, bringing her vocal talents to the streets of Paris. (Ms. Parks has been nominated for both a Tony and a Grammy.) Her performance sequences gave the costume team a chance to go wild with glitter and feathers. Case in point: the shimmery green Zadig and Voltaire suit she wears to sing at the Chopard soiree, paired with sparkly Roger Vivier pumps.
“We are used to seeing Mindy as too sexy, too feminine, too outrageous,” said Ms. Fitousi. “I said, ‘Why not the suit?'”
To give this look “The Mindy Touch,” in Ms. Fitousi’s words, she upped the glamor quotient with a vintage rhinestone necklace that flows down her neck.
A New Take on French Style
Sylvie first tells Emily of her ignorance of French culture and her American ego, reprimands her for talking shop at parties and treating Paris like her own personal “amusement park”. But while Emily’s boss is in many ways the show’s archetypal Frenchwoman, Ms. Fitousi had no interest in dressing her like that.
“I know how to design the perfect French woman,” she said, adding to the “boring” basics: blue jeans, T-shirt, white sneakers, black or navy jacket, “beige if we’re crazy today.”
For Season 2, Ms. Fitousi dressed Sylvie in several suits in bright red and silver hues. (The silver one became known as her “Mick Jagger suit” on set.) An eye-catching office look included a low-cut gold Saint Laurent button-down, a black mage skirt with a thigh-high slit, and a slit. Alsa belt.
“That’s my idea of a business organization,” said Ms. Fitousi. “Black skirt, but instead of white, black or dark blue, you put on gold.”
Designing for a New Character
Some of the season’s most standout looks are from a new character, a fashion designer named Gregory Elliot Dupree (Jeremy O’Harris). He first appears in Saint-Tropez with a green and white Casablanca faux fur coat that hangs over his shoulders and a floppy pâteau hat on his head (accessed with yellow Dolce & Gabbana flower pins). .
“The truth is, when Jeremy O’Harris walked in the door, he was adorned, ” said Ms. Field. “I’m like, ‘Perfect. I have no work to do.'”
While Ms Fitousi 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’ve mixed patterns since I was a textile designer,” she said. “In Paris, people call me ‘Parrot’, call me ‘Joker’.”
For her, the point is to maintain her adventurous sensibility to Emily 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,” said Ms. Fitoussi. “I don’t want to clone what French is or what French fashion should be. If I do that, I fail.”