First, a confession: I went to high school in the 80s.
There, I said it.
So I was excited to see the closet of my youth revisited with this Sex and the City prequel at a time when the 80s have already crept into the fashion zeitgeist.
It’s been a while since the era of scrunchies and paint splatter neon has been captured on the big or small screen without major parody (we’re talking to you Hot Tub Time Machine), so kudos to costume designer Eric Daman (Gossip Girl) for accepting the challenge. The result is more subtle than I expected, and as a result, more successful.
First, Carrie. The Carrie Diaries creates the back story for the iconic Carrie Bradshaw, here a suburban Connecticut-based teen who narrates her life in voiceover and meets her BFFs at the coffee shop school cafeteria to gossip about boys and sex.
The adorable AnnaSophia Robb as a young Carrie Bradshaw has some big Manolos to fill, and she does a great job, even channeling Sarah Jessica Parker at moments. Maybe those triple-named gals have a secret handshake or something.
Reeling from the recent death of her mother, Carrie strives even harder to find herself, deal with her rebellious sister (will she chop off her flowing hair and leave a braided Til Tuesday tail down the back?), and chase her crush who shows up at the school dance in a red Porsche a la Jake Ryan (Google him).
Diaries also has serious potential to take 80s fashion, which has already worked its way through many of fashion showrooms I visit regularly, and make it look truly fresh again. Just look at the photo below of Carrie’s rival classmates. Minus the earrings and popped collars, those outfits are pretty much on the mannequins at The Gap at the moment.
The 80s were all about accessories. From Madonna’s stacks of rubber bracelets and hair bows–which the pilot somehow omitted–to massive doorknocker earrings, too much was never enough. Then there were the preppies. I admit to wearing all of those things, although thankfully never at the same time.
No, I will not show you pictures.
Carrie’s dad gets her an internship in Manhattan (sorry writers, “The City”) at a law firm once a week. She longs to take her mother’s purse along, but her bratty sister swiped it and spilled nail polish on it.
In a cute DIY art montage (cue Madonna’s “Material Girl”), she paints and splatters green and hot pink polish on it with a big Carrie signature.
Already, we see the precurser to the Carrie nameplate that will replace the “C” pendant she’s wearing. Nice touch, designer Alex Woo.
All bright-eyed and bushy haired on her first day in New York, Carrie is smitten. The pace, energy and hustle and bustle literally knock her over and rip her–gasp!–sheer stockings. On a trip to Century 21 to replace them (cue Depeche Mode’s “I Just Can’t Get Enough”), Carrie meets the style editor of Interview magazine, Andy Warhol’s style bible at the time.
Style editor Larissa invites Carrie to hot club Indochine, and sends a pink and black dress to her office to wear (Carrie’s superior scoffs: “You’ll look like that singer, you know, the one who takes the Lord’s name in vain!”). Yes, I too remember a time when not everyone knew Madonna’s name.
After partying with artists, musicians, writers and the first openly gay people Carrie has ever seen, her big eyes are opened even wider. She is forever changed by her “first time” (in The City). Hopefully Carrie will fare better than her friend Mouse, who just lost her literal virginity to someone already dodging her rotary phone calls.
Ah, the telephone. It’s fun to revisit high school in the land of no cell phones, no texting, no computers, no iPads, no Twitter, no Facebook, no Pinterest, no Instagram, no Tumblr. Just 29 years ago and it’s practically Downton Abbey.
In the final scene, Carrie sits in her window in a Sex and the City nod, dons a scrunchie and (hand)writes her feelings in her journal.
As a former–and unabashed–80s teen, I am having a blast with this show. In addition to the awesome soundtrack, I’m loving watching Carrie unfold into the writer she ultimately becomes.