This story contains plot details from Emily in Paris season two.
Plenty has been said about Emily in Paris’s young marketing whiz, Emily Cooper (Lily Collins)—who landed in the City of Light with little savoir faire in regard to the French language or customs, then paraded around the city in wildly colorful and eclectic designer ensembles that a 20-something junior executive couldn’t possibly afford sans trust fund. But that wardrobe critique is peu importe to the Netflix show’s costume designer, Marylin Fitoussi, and costume consultant, Patricia Field.
Fitoussi, who’s French, is well aware that expat Emily doesn’t dress like a Parisian. “The French….like plain things,” she says during a Zoom chat with Vanity Fair. “For them, if you are dressed in color and with pattern, you are not chic at all.” She knows this firsthand: She wears both, and has been called a “parrot” and a “clown” on the streets of Paris. For her part, Field is unbothered, saying via email, “From the reaction that I have received from viewers, there is a huge interest and acceptance of the wardrobe.”
In the beginning, Fitoussi actually took a more practical approach to Emily and company’s apparel. But when she put Emily’s then nanny friend, Mindy (Ashley Park), in “comfy clothes with a pair of sneakers” last season, she saw showrunner Darren Star and Field exchange looks. Star wondered about the sneakers; Fitoussi explained that they were so Mindy could run after her charges. “They said, ‘No, no, no, we’re doing a romantic comedy. So we don’t care about reality. And that [became] rule number one.”
Collins recently told Glamour that Emily’s sartorial style has evolved a bit, and Field agrees that the Chicago native is a bit more sophisticated this season. But while she wears fewer layers in season two, the hats, gloves, and seemingly infinite number of high-end bags remain. “The formula is a combination of ringarde, Midwestern, Parisian, and Emily-optimistic,” Field explains, referring to the French word the show translates to “basic”—a label couturier Pierre Cadault (Jean-Christophe Bouvet) slapped on Emily last season. (Her Savoir work colleagues were more savage, calling her la plouc—“the hick.”)
Meanwhile, Camille (Camille Razat)—Emily’s French friend and unintended romantic rival for her chef neighbor, Gabriel (Lucas Bravo)—and Emily’s refined boss, Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), remain effortlessly chic in their monochromatic and muted-color silhouettes. That’s particularly clear in season two’s opener, when Emily struts into the office wearing a green, pink, and turquoise ribbed Versace sweater; a green geometric Mugler vintage skirt; and a green Elie Saab oversized mini coat. Camille, meanwhile, wears a simple black-and-white Balmain jacket and black Patou pants for their meeting about Camille’s Champère campaign.
Throughout the series, Collins and Park—whose Mindy is now Emily’s flatmate, as the disowned zipper heiress tries launching a singing career—continue to be decked out in exuberant outfits. At her courtyard birthday fête in episode three, Emily is perfectly soignée in a Rotate Birger Christensen black mini-bow dress (later topping it with a colorful kimono), while Mindy dresses to impress in a chartreuse Oscar de la Renta sleeveless long frock.
“I don’t buy things because it’s a brand [or] a logo, or it’s expensive,” Fitoussi explains. “I’m just painting a character. So if the pieces that I find…help me to build this character, okay, I [buy] it. Pat doesn’t care about that because she’s used to working with a higher budget. In France, we don’t have such high budgets.”
This season both costumers wanted to champion designers who were a bit under the radar. For Field, that meant a shout-out to Greek colleagues who she felt “had not been internationally exposed and over-publicized.” Emily wears Mary Katrantzou (color-print dress) and Vassilis Zoulias (black, white, and yellow oversized jacket) while shopping—and inadvertently shoplifting—with Petra, her French-class partner, in episode four. (Emily’s black-and-white-checked bucket hat with a dangling monkey gem is from Field’s closet.) For Gabriel’s Chez Lavaux restaurant opening in episode six, Emily is in a fuchsia dress, also by Zoulias, and a jacket by Rianna + Nina (also the designer of the aforementioned birthday kimono).
While Fitoussi doesn’t feel the “need to promote brands [beyond] a certain [price] range,” she did want to feature lesser-known French labels. When Camille confronts birthday-girl Emily about sleeping with Gabriel, she’s in a three-piece Coperni gray-print suit. The chain-embroidered cream dress and jacket (the latter made from a French judo champ’s uniform) that Sylvie wears on the Valentine’s Day Bateaux-Mouches cruise in episode five; Mindy’s off-the-shoulder gray dress and green cape worn when busking on a bridge with her new band in that same episode; and the clingy orange dress Mindy wears when her bandmate Etienne confronts her about being the “zipper princess of China” in episode seven, are all couture outfits made from cast-off clothes by the nonprofit fashion-recycling project Renaissance.