Stylist Eric Daman certainly has the right resume to be the costume designer for The Carrie Diaries, the prequel to Sex and the City based on young adult novels by Candace Bushnell. Daman assisted Patricia Field, who styled the original Sex and the City series, and he's also the mastermind behind the fashion on Gossip Girl (which we already miss dearly). Thankfully his sartorial eye will be back on the small screen for tonight's premiere of The Carries Diaries (8 p.m. ET on The CW). The series stars AnnaSophia Robb as a young Carrie Bradshaw, who attends high school in Connecticut in the 1980s while interning at Interview. Before the much-anticipated show hits the air, we quizzed Daman about the throwback fashion, his inspiration, and what designers to expect (Will there be Manolos? Of course!).
ELLE: In addition to the '80s factor, how will the fashion be different from the original Sex and the City?
Eric Daman: We're discovering a young Carrie in the '80s in suburban Connecticut, and it's a New Haven public school. So, I think there's definitely going to be Connecticut Carrie, who is much more pulled back and subdued. Of course, she's still going to have her idiosyncratic style and very individualistic point of view. Stylistically, she'll definitely be pioneering her own look. The more we see her go to New York, the more we're going to see the evolution of how Carrie Bradshaw becomes the fashion icon we know and love.
ELLE: How else will the storyline play into her outfits?
ED: Initially when we see Carrie in Connecticut, we see a more subdued, quieter Carrie. She's not a Carrie who prescribes to all of the '80s trends. I think it's important to keep in mind that her mom had just recently passed away and she kind of inherits this amazing closet of her mother's. They call it the "fashion Narnia." Carrie gets to experiment with things from the '60s and '70s, so she's not just in obvious '80s [clothes]. I think that's what's going to give her the Carrie flair.
ELLE: Can you describe some of the outfits she'll be wearing?
ED: We're trying to give it a contemporary flair and an aspirational authenticity, and then feeding off of that by mixing and matching. She wears a really cute top from Marc by Marc Jacobs. It's a red pleated sleeveless top, and it has little navy hearts all over it. It feels very '60s to me—the shape, the silhouette. It's almost like a baby-doll top. She wears that with a pair of skinny indigo Levi's.
ELLE: Which other designers did you feature?
ED: We're not using a lot of brand-new contemporary designers. We are using a lot of Marc by Marc Jacobs and Cardigan. There will be some couture. There's a Georges Chakra moment coming up. We will definitely, hopefully, see some Manolo Blahnik, Chloé, Current/Elliott, and Nanette Lepore. We'll definitely see some Dior and Valentino sprinkled in there. It's all just sprinkles of it, but there's definitely going to be some larger labels in there, because I think it's important to keep the fashion fresh. We'll also see a lot of H&M and Topshop, and more accessible stores. I think it's important for the viewers at home to have something accessible and attainable.
ELLE: Is Carrie a shoe-label lover? Or not yet?
ED: She becomes a shoe-label lover. I think she definitely enjoys shoes. When she has access to New York, she meets a style editor at Interview who becomes her mentor, and she gains access to the Interview fashion closet. That really ups the ante. There's definitely a whole shoe thing that does happen, that we see growing. That's what's great about this character—we do get to see where it all came from, to watch how she grows and how her style changes.
ELLE: Are there any trends that you think will emerge from her style?
ED: She has a little “C” initial pendant necklace that she wears. It’s a kind of a prelude to the “Carrie” nameplate. It’s a little important, quiet piece that I think people will enjoy.
ELLE: How is your design and inspiration approach for The Carrie Diaries different from that of Gossip Girl?
ED: It was pretty different. In Gossip Girl, they were very rich Upper East Side kids running around in runway clothing. Going into Carrie, it was kind of important to pull it back and create this other world and this ambiance of a quieter Connecticut. Yet when she goes to New York, [we had to create] vivacity and in-your-face looks. Even going into [the process of] creating Carrie was very stressful in trying to figure out [how to] pay homage and be true to the iconic fashion star that we know. For me, it was similar to Gossip Girl in that I wanted each character to be his or her own style star. As a costume designer, it’s important to give each person his or her own personalized look. [We] push each character’s look a little further than you would normally, just to give him or her a signature style.
ELLE: Besides Carrie, whose style will catch our eye?
ED: I think there are quite a few young characters. One of the ones I have the most fun with is Larissa, who is the Interview magazine fashion editor. For me, she has this great '80s, New York, and high-fashion style turned into one look. She's a mix of Grace Jones, Iman, and Bianca Jagger. There's lots of neon, big shoulder pads, and big hats. In the high school, there's a mean girl, Donna LaDonna, who prescribes to all of the '80s trends. She's more of a mall girl and you could see her walking out of a Whitesnake or ZZ Top video. She's a lot more fun, because she wears the kitschy '80s style, and it's a bit more tongue-in-cheek.
ELLE: Do you think AnnaSophia Robb will be the next It girl?
ED: I hope so! She really has such an allure to her. She's so sweet and adorable, and she walked into this [role with] wide eyes and open arms. I think people will really take to her. She does have a great style sense of her own. She's also just coming of age and learning all about it. She's at a perfect age to be flourishing in all of this. She's so sweet, cute, and petite, I just can't imagine that she won't.