Monday, August 25, 2003

'Sex' offers unique peek backstage

By Joy Kraft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sarah Jessica Parker's look as sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw in HBO's Sex and the City may seem thrown together, but it's planned down to the bottom of her Jimmy Choo heels, according to Maren Hartman, the University of Cincinnati student who worked for the show's wardrobe department last year.

"Fittings could go up to four hours. There might be 100 outfits for her (Parker) to try on for a two-minute scene."

Trend-setter and costume designer for the show Patricia Field and assistant designers (roughly five) would read the script, then shop, choosing from racks of fashion designers willing to lend their wear for exposure on the popular show.

Back at the studio in Queens, clothes were photographed, cataloged and arranged; first according to the characters, men included, then by designer, then by style or type and then by color.

"It's a constant process," she says.

When a scene came up for a fitting, Hartman and her co-workers were given clothes to arrange for the actors.

"For example, if there was a fitting for Carrie, and a shirt was required, they were laid out black on one end, white on the other and ranges of colors in between. Same for shoes, dresses, accessories."

Then the star would show up, strip down and start trying on outfits.

"The first time I saw Sarah Jessica Parker I thought, 'I'm seeing Sarah Jessica Parker naked.' It's so bizarre."

Typically, it would take about two hours to arrange for a fitting for a scene that might last two minutes

"Patricia (Field) might say, 'I think the vibe for this scene is sexy,' and the actress will just start trying things on (while someone takes) Polaroids. Sometimes an actress might not like the way it fits or feels or looks on them and reject it."

The season Hartman worked in New York was the shortened season because Parker was pregnant and struggling with morning sickness.

Carrie's wild wardrobe this season may be a backlash from that.

"So much of what she had on that season was to hide her pregnancy," says Hartman. "Her character's style began as much more bohemian, then moved into the designer element but with a very eclectic mix. They have the most fun dressing her."

"She has one of the most unbelievable bodies. She has a 23-inch waist ... after the baby. She's unreal."

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