The SATC Effect

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

 In an interview with The Sunday Times, Manolo Blahnik stated that a mere mention of Sex and the City makes him “feel sick”. The names of shoe designer and sit-com are synonymous, cementing him into the role of sleb designer and pop culture icon from the 1990s onwards. The appearence of a blue satin court of his in the first film apparently helped Blahnik avoid bankruptcy; “We had a very good year last year, thanks to those stupid satin shoes. That shoe saved our company.” Now recognised by everyone down to taxi drivers for his association with the HBO series, he feels uncomfortable in the new-found role, and for a man of 66 who has spent his life working on establishing himself to be taken seriously, it must be strange to be caught up in the whirlwind of hysteria around a television show that will surely one day come to pass as quickly as it appeared.

Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Cinema

Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Cinema

There is much aflutter online of Blahnik “biting the hand that feeds him”, much shock at the seeming ingratitude of a place in the coveted celebrity circus, especially given the financial dimension of the story. Most conclude he mustn’t be that ungrateful really, or that Sex fans will just move onto Christian Louboutin thankyou very much, you naughty and ungracious little Spaniard. But he’s not the first designer to oppose the kind of fashion Sex promotes; Vivienne Westwood famously walked out of the first film’s premiere; “I thought Sex And The City was supposed to be about cutting-edge fashion and there was nothing remotely memorable or interesting about what I saw.” And she’s right!! Patricia Field’s styling looks to an untrained eye what they imagine “fashion” to be – a bit mad, a bit complicated, with plenty of silly trends and high heels – but it’s pretend, not real fashion, and it’s absolutely nothing compared to what the likes of Westwood and Blahnik have been sending down the runwys for years. But more importantly, the designers both are of an age that precedes the glossy, plastic, tinseltown celebrity culture we know today where what’s seen on a star is regarded as good style. They made their names through blood sweat and tears, and degrees in fashion knowledge, and have every right to be frustrated that their hard work is becoming the merchandise of what’s essentially a soap opera.



Without sounding elitist, in my book there are two types of fashion fan; first, there are the magpies, chasing anything bright and shiny, chirping merrily the names of big fat brands and donning the latest from the rag mags without an ounce of understanding how clothes “work” in their little birdy brains. These are the middle aged people you see head to toe in designer with nothing matching; the girls who spend Saturday upon Saturday of their lives in clothes shops and end up all looking the same. Fashion plays a different role in their lives, from indicator of status to a means to seduce the opposite sex; but one thing is common is that they simply like to be around pretty shiny things and believe that in collecting them, they can consolidate their place in society’s ranks, to be accepted into the folds of what rich/girly/cool people do by doing it. Then, of course, there is the bona fide fashionista. They not only understand clothes, but can do intersting, even amazing things with it; their styling and even designing moderates from aesthetically pleasing to inspiring and even ground breaking. They can make themselves and others feel happy, sexy, powerful through the power of their dress sense. And it takes blood sweat and tears to earn your place as one, learning the names and faces of the important ones as well as your skillz as a stylist. It goes without saying that my observations come from a a kind of phobia of being identified with the former, along with a life long obsession over people I know to be the latter; Gwen Stefani, John Galliano, Lady Gaga, Emma Bell, Dame Vivienne herself, down to people I spot every day in the street.



Myself, I think Sex and the City has a lot to answer for when it comes to our first kind of fashion fan, let’s say, the fakers. There isn’t really anything fashion about it, it’s really just a tarted up sit-com with characters squealing about the latest it-shit, an injection squirted in to to boost the show’s girly-girly credentials. But it’s fashion labels, not the clothes themselves that reign; in one scene Samantha, nearest thing to a Fag Hag on the show with her pro-woman way of living, appears in front of her cronies wearing glasses – yes!! The very idea! But waves off the other ladies’ criticism stating, “they’re Chanel”. Apparently in the SATC universe, any fashion faux pas can be quick-fixed with the simple slap-on of a well known brand. First, this discredits a label founded on decades of work from some of the world’s cleverest people who made far greater changes to the way we live than making glasses acceptable to those who don’t wear them. Furthermore, since when were glasses so bad? How limited does your fashion sense have to be in order to stray so little from the strictest understanding of what’s cool? Obviously for Carrie and the gang, this very limited indeed.



Filed under Designer Limelight, Fashion

3 responses to “The SATC Effect

  1. Eleanor

    I’ve been reading this and trying to think up a very clever, terribly witty response to sex in the city and it’s fans but all I came up with was ‘urgh’ instead of the pages of bile I wanted.
    I’m not surprised at all at Blahnik’s feelings towards it, I feel bad for him that it had to be SATC that saved his company.
    All the sodding programme has ever done is to annoy me and convince all the stupid blind fashion followers that as long as you wear a label you look awesome. It’s like everything else in the world, just because you throw some money at it doesn’t mean you’ve solved the problem.

    Also, I hgate SJP’s outfits, almost every single time. To me she is further proof, if it were needed, that just because it’s got a label and people think you look ‘a bit out there’ doesn’t mean you don’t look like a twat. I know I am probably one of the few who seem to think this and the rest of the world hails her for being some kind of uber-fashionista but I dont think she (or her stylists) know how to wear clothes.
    Anyway I’m going to stop here because I dont know how much sense I’m making. To sum up, and I have a lot of sympathy for Manolo Blahnik. SATC is all round awful; the plots, the clothes, SJP and those fucking monologues and to be so famous because of it must be unbearable.

  2. Jess WL

    Awww. My first reaction was very very sad at hearing Manolo Blahnik’s feelings towards his constant support from SATC. I always felt the designers who get a mention would be ecstatic that their name will be circulating the brains of the squillions of fans (some magpies maybe, but is that so bad? (£££)) Maybe initially, for small struggling labels, a mention on SATC guarantees some success. But I see your point Ribena; don’t get me wrong, I love a good SATC, however there are few and far between memorable outfits, which is disappointing for girls with apparently endless bank accounts for tasty labels. Maybe the majority of their fans are magpies who play it safe with the high street; therefore fabulous risqué outfits would be less appealing to them. But surely playing it safe goes against the designer’s initial raw and fantastic ideas? Is it a tug of war between pleasing the mass & the designers? Maybe SATC shouldn’t name drop without wearing the justification, in effect biting the hand that feeds them the reputation of a stylish programme. That was a pretty over the top statement haha…
    A thought for wee Viv West, did she not appreciate the bird on the head? I thought that was the most outrageous thing any of the cast have ever done. Haha, well, then there was the time I ended up in a scummy Dundee nightclub, when who should waltz past? Viv West? I wish. A woman on her hen night, wearing a copy cat wedding dress avec huge blue bird on her head…I didn’t know whether to be in awe of her valiant efforts, or horrified for Viv west that her name had made it to Fat Sam’s of Dundee. *Cringe*
    I enjoyed the read Rena, apparently it was very thought provoking for me haha.
    Love! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  3. Rena

    Good thoughts girls!!

    Eleanor, I couldn;t agree more, the “fashion” of SATC is more label collecting than anything else and it’s just sad, because fashion can do so much more for us. And the tragdy of SJP outfit’s and Patricia Field’s styling is… well… they’re American. There has, in my opinion, always been something of a child in the dressing up box when it comes to the style stakes of our Yankee cousins, bar one or two – it always looks a bit piled on and never in a good way, unlike the ‘mismatched’ but still coherent outfits one sees on the streets of the kookier fashion capitals (London, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, etc.). And when they aren’t piling it all on or bragging about labels, it’s jeans, Ugg boots, or Juicy couture all the way. It’s insipid man.

    Jess! I see your point that SATC is respected in a certain sense, but I don’t think it’s well founded, and the thing about making money for a designer, sure it’s great if that’s what ur after, but Blahnik and Westwood are making the point that maybe its better to have a small but loyal fanbase who appreciate your work like other respected people than be known around the world by people who don’t buy you anyway and are just reciting your name from a tv show.
    But I don’t think it’s a question of fabulous and risque outfits being less appealing to the faker magpie type – in fact, they can’t really tell the diff between a great outfit and a terrible one so who cares! but that’s exactly whats being exploited here – they are being fed a heap of crap, told it’s fabulous, and it isn’t!! i think they would be just as impressed by real fashion but the producers know they can get away with a much lower budget and spend far less time on it if they just shovel in any old thing! let’s not underestimate people, it’s just money making and yeah, SATC should take things more seriously!!
    but u raise a serious point here – how the feck does carrie bradshaw afford all that designer shizzle and a lush appartment in manhatten on the salary of a journalist!? pure fantasy….

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