No, That Controversial Carrie Bradshaw Dress Isn't From Forever 21
Once paparazzi began snapping photos from behind the scenes of And Just Like That, fans couldn't help but jump to conclusions — or share their harsh opinions — about the outfits. As backlash rolled in about a few of the looks, costume designers Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago were put in a tough spot. Sworn to secrecy about specific plot lines (fake scenes were even filmed to throw people off), they couldn't fully defend or explain their choices, such as why Carrie Bradshaw wore an oversized pink coat or, at one point, had a big bird on her head.
Finally, though, the day has arrived where the two can speak on one of the show's most viral and controversial ensembles: Carrie Bradshaw's floor-length, printed sundress, which appears in episode three. For months, Internet sleuths swore the piece was from Forever 21, and it received a tone criticism from fashion publications, like Vogue and Diet Prada, who remarked that it felt different from the character's typical style.
Spoiler alert: it was supposed to. And no, it's not from a mall brand. And actual spoiler alert: Discussion of episodes 1 through 3 to follow.
"The message from [show creator] Michael Patrick King was 'Put Carrie in something that she would be kind of embarrassed to wear while bumping into Natasha [Big's ex wife] at the coffee place.'" explains Rogers. "For me, that was that long summer dress, and SJ wanted to put a tiger shirt underneath it. It was very Coachella in a way; I didn't really find it to be a very Carrie outfit. That's why I thought it worked."
In short, like much of what Carrie wears this season, this dress was supposed to convey how she isn't quite herself and is mourning the tragic death of her husband. Throughout the episode, we learn that she hasn't been sleeping, and she even ends up walking aimlessly around the city (albeit, in very high platform heels). Something is clearly off with her — which is the exact message that this outfit sends.
"It was a more casual outfit for Carrie, and I remember we didn't want to do sweatpants," Rogers tells us. "That's how we ended up with that."
As for where, exactly, the sundress came from, the costume designers reveal it's actually vintage.
"That was something that I purchased probably about five years ago," says Santiago. "It had no label in it, and I think I paid $5 or $6 at a thrift shop. I was like, 'Oh, this is a cute boho dress. It's cotton. It has a nice print on it.' I bought it, I put it in my archive, and it was something we chose to bring up to New York with all the things that we brought with us."
Eventually, it checked all the boxes for the outfit they were aiming for.
"It didn't matter at that point for us." Santiago says. "It was something that we liked it and we thought would work for the scene that we had."
Truthfully, Santiago thinks the controversial dress may have originated from an Indian designer — another theory that made the rounds — and, looking at the timeline, assumes the Forever 21 version was a knockoff.
"I'm pretty sure that it would've been the one that was made in India, but we have no way of really telling because there was never a label or anything on it."
Rogers and Santiago actually used a number of vintage pieces when dressing the cast, so it makes sense that, in tandem with the show's release, the two are also collaborating with thredUP. Starting today, fans can shop a collection they curated with the three core And Just Like That... characters in mind (and, yes, actual items from the show are included). Even better, 100% of proceeds will be donated to The Willie Garson Fund, in honor of the late actor who played Carrie's best friend, Stanford.
"It just felt so right to be participating in something like that, and we really want everybody to try and make it a success in support of Willie," says Rogers, with Santiago expanding on the type of clothing fans can purchase. "We shopped through what they had from all the different inventory, from all different designers — high end, low end designers — and curated these three types of looks that I think fans and people are going to have a lot of fun looking at," he says. "They can take some of these pieces and incorporate it into their wardrobe, and feel like they are part of the show. Have a little something of the girls, as far as the style and the look of it."
And, if you're still itching to your hands on some of the accessories you saw on screen? Well, you should probably direct your attention to Carrie's arm.
"One thing about that dress that had all the controversy is that the bag that she carries with that is from the new Gucci and Balenciaga collab," Santiago shares. "That was something that they dropped for us, and they timed it so that they put it out when the show was airing." You know who else stepped out in a look from that line recently? None other than Beyoncé herself.