Few might describe Emily Cooper’s style as très chic. The bubbly protagonist of the hit Netflix comedy Emily in Paris, played by Lily Collins, is a fan of neon jackets, fingerless gloves, checkered bucket hats, and oversized sunglasses—all pieces that stick out in the generally refined, subdued French style aesthetic. So absurd are her wardrobe choices as a Chicago transplant in Paris that critics have labeled costume designer Marylin Fitoussi’s ensembles “cartoonish,” “tacky” and “utterly unhinged,” with varying degrees of delight attached. To which Fitoussi responds, “I don’t care.”
“You can call it tacky, you can call it different, you can call it whatever you want,” Fitoussi says. “It’s just the lesson of being yourself. Who are imposing the rules? Who decides [what] will be in or out? That you are in fashion or out of fashion? Obviously, I don’t pay attention to that.”
That attitude seems to be working for Fitoussi and co.; as the new season of Emily in Paris debuts December 22, all eyes are on the fashion. Like in season 1, the French costume designer collaborated with consultant Patricia Field, known for her own iconic (and much-debated) wardrobe work on Sex and the City. But after ironing out their working relationship at the beginning—“sometimes we’d have a fight, of course, because we are two strong personalities,” Fitoussi says—Field gave her “absolute freedom” to dress the characters as she saw fit.
“I learned a beautiful thing from her,” Fitoussi says. “Every morning, she said, ‘Marylin, don’t care about reality.’ When I started to design season 1, I was thinking too much about, for example, Mindy: ‘Oh, she’s a nanny. So she needs to run after the kids in a park, so she needs to have sneakers.’ When I designed Mindy with sneakers, I saw Patricia looking at [showrunner Darren Star] and Darren looking at Patricia, saying, ‘What is going on? Sneakers?’ It’s something that can’t happen in Darren’s world. They said, “Marylin, we don’t care about reality.” So [now], I completely understand their world.”
In keeping with that spirit, season 2’s costumes elevate season 1’s already wacky styles while retaining each characters’s core aesthetic: For instance, Emily is still bold and colorful, Mindy (Ashley Park) is still sexy and confident, and Camille (Camille Razat) is still minimal and gender-neutral. Tracing many of her favorite items to her late-night shopping binges, the costume designer broke down some of the best looks from Emily’s latest chapter—and where fans can pick up the pieces (or similar dupes) for themselves.
At the start of season 2, it’s immediately clear that Emily hasn’t lost any of her affinity for color. Case in point: a vivid green and pink getup she sports in episode 1.
“We don’t change [Emily] suddenly,” Fitoussi says. “[She doesn’t] give up and became a boring French girl with a navy blue blazer jacket, a white T-shirt, a pair of jeans and sneakers. I know you can find that on every website, you know: ‘How to dress like a Parisian.’ I’m not a stylist. I’m not doing fashion at all. I’m a costume designer, and I needed to design strong characters to catch the eyes of a young audience.”
For her part, Camille gets a slightly more avant-garde closet this season, as demonstrated by this oversized Balmain jacket with wide-leg black pants. It’s the kind of outfit a real French woman could get away with it: minimal and monochrome, but styled with a tongue-in-cheek edge.
Although Emily’s still dealing with the fallout from her one-night fling with Camille’s ex, Gabriel, that doesn’t mean she can’t turn a few heads outside of her own apartment building.
Early in season 2, she meets Alfie (Lucien Laviscount), a British businessman with little interest in Paris’s so-called “magic.” The two strike up a friendship—or is it more?—during their weekly French classes, and soon discover they have more in common than an inability to pronounce heureuse. On one of their several outings, Emily sports this tweed Balmain skirt, ruffled red crop top, and Roger Vivier bag. It’s a surprisingly simple look for the oft over-the-top Emily, but with that extra dash of scarlet, it’s enough to catch Alfie’s attention.
Looks 3 and 4
Although Emily sports a number of eye-catching dresses throughout season 2—including this two-tone black-and-white number from Balmain—Fitoussi’s favorite Emily outfit is the pink Rotate bow-adorned mini dress. She paired the strapless piece with a kimono from home—an unintentional but inspired decision.
“This night [of filming] was particularly very cold,” Fitoussi says. “Suddenly Lily said, ‘I need a coat; I need a jacket. Honestly, I can’t survive.’ So, I remember I went in the trailer and came back to the set with Lily’s teeny jacket, and she had this wonderful sentence. She said, ‘Marilyn, I don’t want fashion. I want to be warm.’ Suddenly, I remembered that, at home, I have this kimono. And I run, I sent a PA: ‘Go to my house, take the kimono.’ And it arrived on set, and I literally put the coat on her, and it was suddenly very magic.”
This trio of outfits worn by Emily, Mindy, and Camille has been causing a stir since Netflix first revealed them in a season 2 early-look image. They accomplished exactly what Fitoussi had set out to do: grab attention, quick.
“You need to catch the eyes of the audience in two seconds,” she says. “You know how we are now crazy about social media, and fast—we consume, and we need to see color, et cetera, et cetera. So looks [in a TV show] need to be stronger and bigger, and more designed than in a normal life.”
Even when she wears more traditional attire, like this simple yellow blazer, Emily always opts to boost its impact with mixed (and even clashing) patterns or neon colors. And Fitoussi says it’s not only Emily who’s paving the way for such striking costumes on TV; other shows are taking the lead as well.
“You see that in series like Bridgerton,” she says. “Who, two years ago, could imagine that you would design a period TV show with such bright colors? With such simple fabrics and everything? So minds are changing, and that, I think, is very good. It’s very good.”
While Emily’s co-workers, including elegant boss Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), find their own way to stand out in the Savoir marketing firm offices, Emily’s still the one who draws eyes during most interactions. (Even draped in a more classic houndstooth blazer and striped shirt, Emily has to add a Valentino skirt to up the ante.) Fitoussi owes this magnetism to her own desire to throw aside trends; she finds creative, even bizarre outfits tend to have more staying power.
“I’m not doing trends,” Fitoussi says. “I hope 10 years from [now], people can say, ‘Oh, that’s interesting,’ [about the show’s costumes] and not, ‘Oh, that top, we had that in 2022. Do you remember?’”
In order to assemble all of season 2’s many (many) costumes, Fitoussi was forced to get innovative about where she sourced garments. That meant she culled from both high-end designers and affordable brands, then mixed and matched within the same ensembles. That’s how Emily ends up in a look like this one, which pairs a white vest from Zara with a Valentino belt.
“That also is my motto in this season: [mixing] very high-branded pieces and more affordable pieces, young designers and vintage pieces,” Fitoussi says. “You can wear a Pall Mall jacket with an H&M T-shirt. It’s not in the brand. It’s when you have the schtick.”
Still, Fitoussi had no shortage of high-end designers to choose from this season. After the frenzy Emily in Paris set off in the fashion world last year, designers were practically begging to have their pieces featured in the sophomore season. Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana, and Roger Vivier were luxury houses lucky enough to have Emily tote one (or more) of their bags in season 2.
“I can confess that every brand wanted to have the winning bag that Lily can wear,” Fitoussi says. “All the world sent us bags and bags. So, at the end, it was not complicated to elect the bag. It was complicated to store all the bags—because we had boxes of bags.”
As for what’s next in Emily’s fashion future, Fitoussi reveals she already has plans for season 3—even if Netflix has yet to officially announce the next chapter. If all goes as Fitoussi hopes, she’ll be giving Emily and the cast’s wardrobes an eco-friendly refresh.
“My dream for season 3 would be to recycle costumes [from] season 1,” she says. “I don’t know if we can do that, but I’m dreaming to bring some of Lily’s most iconic outfits to the recycling workshop and see what they can do and recut and make.”
This post will be updated.
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