“The Carrie Diaries” Costumer Discusses Bradshaw's ‘80s Style

Young Carrie BradshawTonight's the night! Carrie Bradshaw fans and chic young ladies, be sure to tune into the premiere of "The Carrie Diaries," the highly anticipated "Sex and the City" prequel on CW starring AnnaSophia Robb. With the end of "Gossip Girl," this fashionable new show set in the 1980s is already promising to fill the void in our busy TV-viewing schedule. We caught up with Eric Daman, the lead costume designer, to get the scoop on this new, younger Carrie. As the costume designer behind "Gossip Girl" and a stylist who worked with Patricia Field on the set of "Sex and the City," Daman has proven styling ability, and we're dying to know more about this new budding fashionista. Check out our interview below, and be sure to follow Eric Daman on Twitter for more insider info leading up to each episode.

Shine: Without an image of Carrie Bradshaw in high school to go on, what were the challenges of imagining her younger self?

Eric Daman: 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. We don't want her style to be too broad or evolved, but still 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.

S: How would you describe Carrie's personality and sense of style in the '80s versus the lady we know and love? Where does her inspiration come from?

Doing the Carrie strut in New York City

E.D.: Dressing a young Carrie Bradshaw was at first quite intimidating, but ultimately exhilarating. It was very important to keep in mind that she is a young high school student still figuring out her style. And of course the era plays a huge role in the overall look. Conceptually, we hope to create an aspirational authentic look, not an overtly kitschy '80s look. Our young Carrie's style will be idiosyncratic, but quieter then the Carrie we already know. She is at an age where she is experimenting, learning and creating her individual unique style. Keeping all of this in mind when conceiving her look, I wanted to give her a unique point of view mixing colors and patterns, as well as eras. Mixing obvious '80s-inspired items with pieces from her mother's closet that feel more '60s and '70s with contemporary flair. Actually, Carrie's mom has passed recently, and her closet becomes a bit of a Pandora's box that inspires Carrie's style. Carrie 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). Through her friend Larissa, a style editor at Interview Magazine, Carrie gets a glimpse into the world of fashion that she had only seen before in the pages of Interview.

Carrie's first night out in the big cityS: People often reflect on '80s fashion as tacky or over-the-top, but there were actually some great styles we enjoyed (and still do). What do you love about the fashion of that decade?

E.D.: I came of age in '80s fashion and there was incredible energy that went into creating a look for yourself. There were so many influences from so many directions! One of the most obvious differences is draping and proportion. Fashion was more more extreme, of course, but also more forgiving. There were pleats, and layers, and padding. The silhouettes were more dramatic back then, so fashion fit differently. What I am doing with "The Carrie Diaries" is salvaging the best of the era, like we used to do at The Salvation Army and other thrift stores. My parents thought I was nuts that I was interested in second-hand clothing, but then that's where I discovered vintage Hermes ties, and Brooks Brothers shirts.

S: How did you strike a balance to make the '80s wardrobe fun but not ridiculous, so girls will still covet what they see on TV?

E.D.: Fortunately for The Carrie Diaries and my team, the trends I knew and loved in the '80s are sources of inspiration for fast outlets like H&M, Zara, and Topshop all the way up the fashion food chain through Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Rachel Zoe. So we have a range of choices among contemporary designers creating apparel that resonates with true '80s trends, and we add to it with vintage selections we find in showrooms, consignment shops, and even on Etsy.com. Sometimes a piece or two might come from the personal collections of members of my team.

S: Can you tell us about some of the great vintage pieces you've found? And where specifically you're out shopping?

E.D.: In one scene we have a vintage Norma Kamali jumpsuit beneath a Cinzia Rocca coat and vintage Chloe accessories with contemporary Alexis Bittar jewelry. It's something like 60/40 or 70/30 when it comes to mixing ready to wear '80s inspired contemporary fashion with vintage. We are shopping wherever we need to--it varies, based on what's available. Much of the clothing for the actual pilot came from a lot of my favorite haunts in NYC; Amarcord, Beacon's Closet, Resurrection, Cloak, and Screaming Mimi's for vintage, and [we] relied on fast fashion shops and high-end stores like Saks to give the look its contemporary "aspirational authenticity" we hoped to develop. Having said that, it's important to point out we tailor at least 95 percent of what the actors are wearing to fit them as perfectly as possible.

Carrie's customized bag becomes a trademark accessoryS: Lastly, grownup Carrie had some famous, signature items over the course of the series--her "Carrie" necklace, her flower pins. Does young Carrie have any go-to accessories already locked down?

E.D.: A signature piece is always important! What would Blair [Waldorf] be without her headbands? Carrie's signature piece for now is her Alex Woo "C" pendant (a prelude to the "Carrie" nameplate), as well as her Mark Cross "Scottie" bag, which she inherits from her mother. [There's also a silver sequin Topshop dress with vintage rainbow belt and Autumn Cashmere lime green leopard cardi (très Carrie B.), and a fuchsia-with-black-polka-dot party dress that represents her first night out in NYC (a vintage '80s Scaasi original).

Be sure to tune into "The Carrie Diaries" tonight on CW at 8 p.m. EST.

Related links:

Carrie's Craziest Looks Ever

Woman pays $175,000 to replicate Carrie Bradshaw's closet

First Look: "The Carrie Diaries"

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