With its skin-clinging curves, sexy one-shoulder style and delicate powder-blue hue, it would, under any circumstances, be a dress that women covet.
But this £185 body-hugging frock by American designer Norma Kamali is not just any dress.
For this is the ‘new ‘Carrie dress’, worn by Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in the forthcoming Sex And The City spin-off and already sending fans around the world into meltdown.
As one excited fan put it: ‘There is a God! Carrie is back and this is THE dress!’
Fashion expert Eliza Scarborough said: ‘It’s a grown-up, more elegant version of the original Carrie dress’
Sarah Jessica Parker on the ‘Sex And The City: The Movie’ film set, New York, America, November 2007
Sarah Jessica Parker seen on the set of ‘And Just Like That…’ the follow up series to ‘Sex and the City’ in July, 2021
Another woman wrote on seeing the design: ‘If I die tomorrow, I have reached fashion Nirvana.’
A version of the dress with a slightly longer hemline than the one Parker was seen wearing on set has already sold out online.
Now, designer Kamali says she has had to introduce a version identical to the one Parker actually wore as demand is already so great, long before the series launches in December
A source connected with the HBO show, entitled And Just Like That, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Fashion is more than just fashion for Sex And The City fans.
‘When the show started, it was the first time strong, confident women and the friendships they form had been shown on television.
‘And, of course, fashion was integral to that.’
The £35 million new series picks up the story of girl-about-town Carrie Bradshaw and her loyal girl gang, sweet Charlotte and lawyer Miranda, ‘as they navigate their way through their 50s’.
And while much has changed – man-eating Samantha is out after an infamous real-life falling-out between Kim Cattrall, who plays her, and Parker – the show’s obsession with fashion has not.
The original Carrie dress was a body-hugging charcoal mini that featured in season two, which aired in 1999. Paired with a vintage Gucci bag and towering heels, it was described by fashion magazine Vogue as ‘iconic’ and ‘one of the greatest SATC looks of all time’.
While its exact origins have always been shrouded in mystery, the Carrie dress was copied by designers around the world and tens of thousands of imitations appeared on the high street.
Last night, Ms Kamali said the powder-blue number is officially called the Diana dress after a staff member and was originally designed in the 1970s.
‘Then it was done again in the 1980s, but upgraded in fabric and I added a bodysuit,’ she added. ‘About five years ago, I redid the Diana in the current fabric, which is easy-care, travel-friendly and allows for a great price and looks amazing in tons of colours.
‘The sales through Covid increased month after month. The surprise was when we already thought we had reached the limit of Dianas that could be purchased, we saw SJP looking beyond amazing in the powder-blue Diana.
‘She had the dress shortened and we are adding that length. We are planning to fill lots of orders.’
Fashion expert Eliza Scarborough said: ‘It’s a grown-up, more elegant version of the original Carrie dress.
‘But the flash of shoulder and the figure-hugging material shows us she’s still got it and tells other fiftysomething women they don’t have to wear dowdy clothes because of their age.
‘Carrie usually dresses for other women. My husband, for example, would look at a lot of her outfits that women love and think, ‘Oh my God! What IS that?’ But, like the original little black dress, this blue one may appeal to men just as much as women.’
Dozens of websites have sprung up to analyse every outfit snapped on the set as the show continues to film on location in New York.
There is even an official account, which teases fans with behind- the-scenes glimpses of new outfits and ‘Easter eggs’ – nods to beloved favourite outfits such as the tulle skirt Carrie wore in the opening credits of the original series.
A pair of blue Manolo Blahnik heels Carrie wore to her pared-down wedding to Mr Big in the 2008 Sex And The City movie are shown paired with a sophisticated green outfit.
Other recycled pieces seen in the new series are also benefiting from the Carrie effect
Makers of the ‘Roger’, a studded leather belt that Carrie first paired with a hot pink Oscar de la Renta dress in 2002, had to put the accessory back into production after pictures of Parker wearing it in the reboot emerged
Then there is the return of a classic purple-sequined £2,850 Fendi ‘Baguette’ bag which a robber snatched from Carrie during the original series as she wailed: ‘That isn’t a bag – it’s a Baguette!’
Other recycled pieces seen in the new series are also benefiting from the Carrie effect.
Makers of the ‘Roger’, a studded leather belt that Carrie first paired with a hot pink Oscar de la Renta dress in 2002, had to put the accessory back into production after pictures of Parker wearing it in the reboot emerged.
‘I came across SJP wearing our belt on Instagram like everyone else,’ said Ruth Sack, co-designer at American brand Streets Ahead. ‘It just went crazy.
‘We were getting messages on Instagram, emails and phone calls from people asking where they could buy it.
Get another Eiffel of Carrie’s classic bag
One notable accessory that makes a comeback in the new series is the distinctive ‘Eiffel Tower’ bag Carrie first carried on a romantic trip to Paris with husband Mr Big in the original Sex And The City film.
But it appears in a scene where Carrie stands alone on a bridge, leading to speculation that the bag may contain Mr Big’s ashes, which Carrie will tip into the River Seine.
Created by LA-based designer Timmy Woods, the £1,800 bag is made of acacia wood studded with 6,300 Swarovski crystals.
The original was auctioned for charity, but Woods made another for And Just Like That.
‘We weren’t even making the belt any more so quickly had to put it back into production. We did 50 belts and sold out within two hours. A second batch of 100 belts sold out again, so now we’ve put it back into full production.’
Ms Sack revealed the £143 belt wasn’t named before it appeared in the original series. ‘Carrie Bradshaw actually named it ‘Roger’ in one of the episodes so we decided to stick with it.’
Ms Sack added the power of the show to drive sales was never more apparent than on social media.
‘We sold thousands of the belt the first time around,’ she said. ‘Now, it’s gone crazy even before the show has come out.
‘Social media has meant it’s accessible to all. People who have bought the belt have come from all over the world.’
Charlotte Gladwin, social-media specialist at Rebecca Abigail PR, said: ‘With social media, there’s a constant demand for content.
‘The days of mystery and secrecy are a thing of the past. That said, it’s unusual for a TV show to be so open on social media. The reasons for this are a mix of the practical and to build hype and awareness.
‘They’re out filming in the streets of New York. Everyone has a camera phone so those shots will be out there anyway. Better to be in control of the content by putting it out yourself.
‘It’s also a good way to reassure fans. Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte are older but, as we can see, the clothes they are wearing are still ahead of the curve.
‘It’s reassuring to know it’s still Carrie, but Carrie 2.0.’
ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: Thank heavens the Sex and The City costume designers missed the memo on what to wear when working from home
Welcome back Carrie Bradshaw. We’ve missed you big-time but, truth be told, we’ve missed your wardrobe even more. So it’s no surprise that weeks before the hugely anticipated launch of the updated Sex And The City – And Just Like That – we’ve already seen pictures of a new scene-stealing dress.
Remember that first Carrie dress? The ruched, clinging charcoal mini she wore in season two with tanned bare legs and carrying a vintage suede Gucci bag. The one that came to be known by SATC aficionados as the ultimate Carrie dress.
And as we report opposite, the same dedicated followers are already slavering over the new powder-blue Norma Kamali number (pre-order available now) even before it’s reached our screens.
Kamali, the 1980s Queen of Stretch, has had something of a revival in recent years, so our Carrie is right on trend in her choice.
Called the Diana dress, this one-shouldered, clinging £160 tube of polyester and spandex is fashionably calf-length rather than the thigh-hugging number of the 1990s but has the same sassy, urban feel, especially teamed with a metallic blazer, staggering Aquazzura-crystal sandals and a down-to-business, scraped-back hairdo.
This will be the first of many looks for Carrie fans to love or love to hate in the new series, since her wardrobe over the years has become ever more outrageous – and divisive.
And the early indications are that there’ll be no gentle decline into middle age for Carrie and her pals as they ramp up the Manhattan action.
Patricia Field, the original SATC costume designer, made her name by serving up a wildly original style that often mixed designer with vintage. She was the perfect choice for the series that launched at a time when high fashion was entering the mainstream.
Never before SATC would you have found a shoe designer (Manolo Blahnik) and a handbag (the Fendi Baguette) name-checked in a television drama. (Fields is otherwise engaged on the new season of the Netflix series Emily In Paris, where the same kitsch costume template is a huge part of its success.)
This time around, the chief costume designer is Molly Rogers (previously of The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty) alongside fellow designer Danny Santiago.
Blissfully, SATC remains a place where fashion is huge fun.
There’s little indication that Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte, along with their new friends such as Lisa (played by Nicole Ari Parker) and Seema (Sarita Choudhury), got the same ‘What to Wear Working From Home’ memo as most of us.
Too many of us spent the past 18 months wrapped up in duvet coats, tracksuits, pyjamas and trainers. But such things certainly don’t feature in this series, unless you count Carrie’s massive Cynthia Rowley puffer jacket, spotted on the fan Instagram site @justlikethat, while clutching her beloved Eiffel Tower bag.
Nor do they seem to be buying into the new gender-fluid androgyny trend of recent years, or the ultra-modest high-necked prairie housewife style. Thank heavens.
No Carrie and her pals are still sporting the kind of dresses that might attract the attention of their hated Toxic Bachelors back in the day. Along with gloriously high strappy heels and a bag wardrobe to rival Victoria Beckham’s.
Never down for normcore style. Never knowingly under-accessorised.
Of course, pulling off the same trick after eight series and two movies is no easy task.
And times have changed. Carrie and her friends are navigating a very different sexual climate in 2021 to their ‘have sex like a man’ years.
But there’s every indication that they’re going to keep on the same wild fashion ride as ever.