With its second season, the Netflix hit Emily in Paris has reaffirmed its position as the television show of choice for people who don’t buy Vogue for the articles. This is a live action comic strip starring the latest from Dior, Isabel Marant, Fendi and Versace, with support from Lily Collins as Emily.
Fortunately, the plot, which makes episodes of Bluey seem Shakespearean by comparison, never intrudes on the technicolour fashion parade, styled in an earnest attempt to look quirky by Marilyn Fitoussi, with Patricia Field of Sex and the City fame as costume consultant. Any attempt at positioning embellished bucket hats, midriff cardigans and $12,000 Valentino mini-dresses on a junior marketing executive within the world of reality is abandoned, favouring the aesthetically extravagant result.
Loud and proud in Paris. Samuel Arnold as Julien, Lily Collins as Emily in ‘Emily in Paris’.Credit:Stéphanie Branchu/Netflix
The life lessons from Emily in Paris may be few and far between, but there are solid takeaways about trends and how to wear luxury labels that rise above the beret, baguette and Balmain clichés.
Lesson 1: Everyone in midriffs
If you’re not flashing flesh, are you even in Paris? The erogenous zone of this series is clearly the midriff, with every female character taking turns revealing a slice of skin beneath their bust.
While cut-outs and stomach-reveals can strike fear into the most body-confident of Emily admirers, the cast demonstrates the ease of mastering the trend. Ashley Park as heiress Mindy favours high-waisted shorts with ruffled tops that make the midriff matter-of-fact, rather than the main event.
As the 50-something executive Sylvie, actress Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu models an elevated approach in a short-cut, knitted jacket with a fringed hem from French luxury brand Alaia. The raffia fringe offers a tantalising glimpse of skin.
Once you have picked the right shapes and details, relax and let the clothes do the work, which means that you shouldn’t wait to exhale.
Lesson 2: Power shoulders in Paris
To toughen Emily’s French frenemy Camille (Camille Razat) in the second season, the design team gave her shoulders broad enough to bridge the Seine from Valentino and Balmain. These oversized silhouettes demonstrate the difference between the padded shoulders of the ’80s and today.
In the ’80s Yves Saint Laurent and Claude Montana’s stiff shoulders descended into nipped, waspish waists with narrow sleeves. The character of Camille wears the structured blazers in a more relaxed fashion, rather than as corporate armour, allowing herself to be enveloped by the oversized cut, with sleeves continuing the exaggerated proportions.
The look is brilliant standing, but it’s worth throwing your jacket on the back of a chair when seated, as Camille demonstrates in the first episode of the second season when the seriously structured shoulders almost rise to ear level.
Lesson 3: Prints in proportion
The plethora of prints Emily braves in Paris is a visual antidote to the sea of beige, black and denim usually encountered in the cafés and bars of the Marais. The character’s courage in mixing prints should be celebrated, but the result is often overwhelming, especially when layered over Lily Collins’ petite frame.
Prints perfect and in the extreme. Emily adopts a more is more approach to pattern in Season 2 of ‘Emily In Paris’.Credit:Carole Bethuel/Netflix
Wearing a ribbed Versace knitted polo above high-waisted vintage Mugler shorts (with the prerequisite hint of midriff), Emily excels. The complementary colours, proportion of the print and similar strobing effect deliver a considered clash with a cool result.
Later in the season her patchwork mini-dress by Dolce & Gabbana is already visual heartburn, with polka dots and disparate floral prints, but adding a printed Christian Louboutin bag and a bucket hat sends the ensemble budget north of $5000. In every way possible, it’s too much.
Lesson 4: Accessories in extreme
Patricia Field understands the power of accessories from her time on Sex and the City, having elevated Manolo Blahniks, Fendi baguette bags and name necklaces to bestseller status. But for every baguette there was a bandana, bandeau top or embellished scarf that failed to capture shoppers’ imaginations.
In Emily in Paris it is the oversized sunglasses and knee-high boots that succeed in stealing the spotlight. If knee-high was not enough of a statement on its own, in Emily in Paris the boots come in animal print, lilac and pink tulle.
Be warned. Look for a sturdy heel if you want to survive something as harsh as Paris cobblestones. I once spent months in the Vogue fashion office listening to a stylist plan her first outing at Paris Fashion Week in a pair of expensive Balenciaga boots. The heel snapped the moment she stepped out of the taxi, leaving her hopping to the first show.
Accessories overload. Fingerless gloves push the envelope in ‘Emily in Paris’.Credit:Carole Bethuel/Netflix
Sunglasses in the series come from a variety of labels, including Valentino and Miu Miu. Look for bold, geometric shapes with oversized proportions. Nineties skinny styles have failed to register on the left bank, with Emily and friends preferring an update on Audrey Hepburn’s covered up approach as seen in the classic films Two For The Road and How To Steal A Million.
Finally, beware fingerless gloves. Making sense of Emily’s adherence to fingerless gloves is the most challenging aspect of season two of the series. Was she a fan of Michael Jackson? Had Joan Collins warned her about the ageing effects of the sun on your hands?
The answer is much simpler. Patricia Fields has collaborated with Seymoure Gloves on a collection of colourful styles, starting at $US298 ($AU413). This is one for the fans, or committed electric scooter riders.
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