Carrie Bradshaw, watch your back. Come fall, the fierce career-minded femmes of ABC's "Cashmere Mafia" and the catty Upper East Side prepsters of CW's "Gossip Girl" are looking to supplant "Sex and the City" as the most fash-savvy show on TV.
With exec producer Darren Star and costume designer Patricia Field on the credit roll -- both are "Sex and the City" alums -- "Cashmere Mafia" is already drawing endless comparisons to the HBO favorite. The new series, premiering in November, also features a fab four, this time led by Lucy Liu, who plays an ambitious magazine publisher. (Another show with "Sex and the City" pedigree, the Candace Bushnell-penned "Lipstick Jungle," promises to glam up the small screen too, but it won't debut until next year.)
"These are very expensive girls," Field says of the "Cashmere" quartet, which also includes Frances O'Connor, Miranda Otto and Bonnie Somerville. Indeed, the pilot reveals the red flash of Christian Louboutin soles in more than a few scenes. And Field says she's taken to shopping for the characters at Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys and Lower East Side boutique Frock, which hawks vintage gems like Cacharel dresses and Roger Vivier shoes.
To help heighten each of the four personalities, Field -- who often dressed Carrie Bradshaw in such not-for-regular-folk clothes as tutus and high-waisted shorts -- says her wardrobe philosophy for "Cashmere Mafia" lies similarly between "reality and fantasy."
This means Liu, whose character works closest to the fashion industry, typically sports the trendiest threads, while Otto, who plays a chief operating officer of a hotel chain, gets the subtler fare -- namely sophisticated Bottega Veneta. "It fits because Miranda can give you that very Park Avenue vibe, with her beautiful white skin," Field says. "That's what it's all about, combining the physical essence with the cultural essence of the character."
Perhaps not surprisingly, the other fashion feast next season comes courtesy of one of Field's protégés. Eric Daman, costume designer of "Gossip Girl," says assisting Field on "Sex and the City" was like Costume Design 101. He explains, "We were [in] New York and it was Sarah Jessica -- things were coming in all the time, I got to see the turnover of it. Something would be in one minute, and one show later it wasn't."
It's much the same pace on Daman's new CW project, which debuts Sept. 26. The show, about the scandalous extracurriculars of a privileged prep-school clique, centers on two frenemies, played by newly hatched starlets Blake Lively and Leighton Meester.
"I feed off of the East Coast socialites -- Tinsley Mortimer, Lydia Hearst," says Daman, a former stylist for glossies such as i-D. "They're different than the L.A. girls, more cutting-edge. They go after the up-and-coming designers, like Alexander Wang and Vena Cava. Of course, you mix that up with the bigger houses like Chanel and Ferragamo, but these debs are getting the newest stuff all the time."
Daman also likes to shop like the socialites for his characters, often skipping Fifth Avenue for New York's Meatpacking District and such stores as Opening Ceremony, Jeffrey and Stella McCartney. Plus, he prefers to blend high and low, pairing, say, an ultra-luxe Goyard bag with an inexpensive Kate Moss-designed shirt from Topshop.
But the women aren't the only ones getting dolled up on the show. Turns out the guys of "Gossip Girl" also boast impressive wardrobes, if the triple-layered polo shirts in a myriad of sherbet colors (as seen on the pilot) are any indication.
"It's all still very Upper East Side-y," Daman says, "but just not old fogy socialite-y."