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'The Carrie Diaries' Costume Designer on John Hughes, Whitesnake, and Other '80s Style Influences

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Anna Sophia Robb as a teenaged Carrie Bradshaw. All images courtesy of the CW.
Anna Sophia Robb as a teenaged Carrie Bradshaw. All images courtesy of the CW.

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The Carrie Diaries premiers on the CW next Monday, and we can already tell you there is going to be no skimping on the crazy fashion. From the the amazing prep style of Carrie's high school chums (double popped collars anyone?), to her Grace Jones-inspired mentor and her own club-kid looks, the show is going to be a veritable bonanza of '80s style.

We chatted with costume designer Eric Daman (also of Gossip Girl) about John Hughes, Whitesnake, Desperately Seeking Susan, and the rest of his cache of amazing '80s style influences. Read on, below.

How does young Carrie's style differ from the Carrie Bradshaw we know and love on Sex and the City?
Carrie has an innate style sense that transcends the decades, but in the "pre" creation of our teen Carrie, it was important to keep in mind she is a teenager in public school in Connecticut and not going to be waltzing the high school halls in Manolos (not right away anyway).

When you think of Carrie Bradshaw (the elder), that pink tutu from the opening credits immediately comes to mind. Was it important to you to create a signature piece for young Carrie?
A signature piece is always important! What would Blair be without her headbands? Carrie's signature pieces are her Alex Woo "C" pendant (a pre lude to the Carrie nameplate), as well as her Mark Cross bag.

SATC style was grounded in current trends and products—that unforgettable Fendi baguette, for example. In creating teen Carrie's style, did you look for iconic pieces from the era, or was the focus on creating an overall look?
Both elements are equally important. We call it "aspirational authenticity." There will be some classic '80s redux but with a modern spin, but mostly you'll see classics with a bit more lineage, like the Mark Cross bag Carrie personalizes.

Carrie's New York style

A big part of the Carrie Diaries story line is the chasm between Carrie's preppy, suburban Connecticut world at home and the edgy, exciting world of New York, where she's interning at Interview magazine. How does her style vary as she inhabits these very different worlds?

There is for sure a marked difference between Connecticut Carrie and New York Carrie. In Connecticut, she will stay true to her original style sense, but the colors and over all feeling will be more muted and quiet. The more she is in New York, the more she embodies NYC glitz and glamour.

There are so many amazing pop culture references for the way people dressed in '80s New York." Where did you look for inspiration for the costumes?
I dove into all of the John Hughes classics, obviously, but also looked to [the 1980 film] Ordinary People, which really set the tone for the look we wanted in Connecticut. As for NYC, I had the pleasure of rewatching many of my old faves, like The Warriors, Slaves of New York, Liquid Sky, and Desperately Seeking Susan.

Freema Agyeman as Larissa

There are a bunch of influential adults in teen Carrie's world—fashion editors, artists, other creative people living and working in New York. Did you base the characters' looks on real people, or just go crazy with your imagination?
Carrie has this amazing fashion mentor—Larissa, the style editor at Interview magazine—who really contributes to her blossoming original take on style. I wanted her to be an amalgam of Grace Jones, Bianca Jagger, and Iman wearing Stephen Sprouse, painted by Keith Haring, and inspiring Warhol. She's an over-the-top, madcap Ab Fab '80s fashion icon.

Chloe Bridges as Donna

Which other characters did you have the most fun designing for?
The mean girl clique Donna la Donna and the Jens are truly inspired for me. They are the local girls that totally subscrube to '80s mall fashion indoctrination?neon, Madonna, Flashdance, whatever the MTV trend of the week it is, they are there! Donna could walk out of a Whitesnake or ZZ Top video and be nonplussed?lots of fun! Tawny Kitaen beware!

Which character was the biggest challenge?
Carrie of course! We don't want her style to be too broad or evolved, but it still had to resonate as Carrie Bradshaw, the idiosyncratic style icon we know and love. So finding a nuanced balance between broad and boring is a big challenge. Her evolution is exciting and the style arc is quite stylish, but finding that delicate balance is a bit of a tightrope walk.

Where did you find the outfits?
The clothing came from a lot of my favorite haunts in NYC; Amarcord, Beacon's Closet, Resurrection Vintage, Cloak, and Screaming Mimis for vintage. I relied on fast fashion shops i.e?Top Shop, H&M, and high-end stores like Saks to give the look the contemporary "aspirational authenticity" we hoped to develop.

AnnaSophia Robb as Carrie Bradshaw and Matt Letscher as Tom Bradshaw

Young Carrie is just a teenager in the show, without a salary in an era before credit cards. How does budget affect her outfit choices?
Teens know nothing of budget?.;) Actually Carrie's mom has passed recently and her closet becomes a bit of a "pandora's box" that inspires Carrie's style. She has access to a Narnia of fashion from eras past. She may wear boots that seem as though they are from the '70s (even though they are current Chloe collection) or printed tops from the '60s (even though they are Marc by Marc Jacobs) accessorized with bakelite jewelry. Of course, then she also gains access to the Interview magazine fashion closet and then all bets are off?.let the fashion games begin!

How closely did you work with the makeup people on the show? Was AnnaSophia's overall look something you created together, or did the beauty and costume teams do your parts separately?
I have worked with Amy and Jen for years on Gossip Girl. We have a terrific relationship and innate understanding of how to work together to create the best version of a look as possible.

There are so many great brands from the '80s that have fallen off the radar for various reasons: from Halston to Esprit and Jordache. Were there any you were particularly excited to bring back for the show?
Rediscovering all my favorite 80s brands is a total treat. Especially Swatch (I used to wear 4 at a time!), Kamali, of course... throw in some Bennetton and Perry Ellis and we are good to go!
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