Warning: Spoilers for the first three episodes of “Emily in Paris” season three below.
Our favorite accidental marketing wunderkind Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) has become a sought-after Parisian professional — even though she still can’t speak French fluently.
In season three of the popular Darren Star series “Emily in Paris,” the charming (yet, at times, exasperating) Chicagoan juggles deux high-profile job opportunities, as opposed to two love interests, like when we last saw her. (Well, at first, anyway. This is “Emily in Paris.”)
Marylin Fitoussi — the costume designer behind Emily’s trend-making (and often controversial) style — moved up, too: She’s now taken full reins of the characters’ much-discussed wardrobes. (Patricia Field co-designed season one, and stayed on as costume consultant for two.) She happily continues the Netflix hit’s signature fashion fever dream, which also includes a literal nightmare.
“As always with Emily, what you expect is what doesn’t happen,” says Fitoussi.
Fitoussi also furthers her mission to support young, independent and French brands by incorporating them into Emily et al‘s sartorial journeys: You’ll see woven and embroidered bags by Léclisse and Nadia Chellaoui, vibrant prints by Jude Ferrari’s Maison J.Simone, handmade accessories by Maison Theil, swimwear by Leslie Amon, plus select pieces from Romain Thevenin, Souraya, Ester Manas, Kimhēkim, Juana Martin, Fidan Novruzdva, Avellano, Koché, Boutet, Danamé and Gestuz.
Ahead, Fitoussi takes us through Emily’s new fashion arc, which was inspired by a drastic haircut; the color she won’t be wearing again; and a hint at her path for season four. Plus: a preview of Camille’s newfound appreciation for color and Mindy’s sure-to-go-viral Mugler moment.
Season three opens with Emily still working for American boss Madeline (Kate Walsh), while accepting a position with Parisian mentor Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu). She hasn’t fessed up to either yet, and the anxiety is getting to her.
Of course, Emily’s stress dream — which foreshadows a disastrous dinner involving McDo (McDonald’s en français) — is essentially a fashion editorial, concluding with her falling off the Eiffel Tower. Madeline overbears in a sparkling black P.A.R.O.S.H. jacket over a sequin-checked Michael Kors number, which is actually two dresses reworked into a maternity look. Sylvie then appears in a stunning metallic sequined cape from the Barbara Bui archives, over a Victoria Beckham dress.
“She’s in the middle of a very dark nightmare with those two witches, who are coming on top of her,” says Fitoussi. “They need to look terrifying.”
Since Emily ends up in a freefall, Fitoussi wanted a costume adorned with fluttering feathers, which also connect to the gleaming eagles on Sylvie’s cape.
“I wanted Emily to be much more fragile, very bird-like and sweet, like she’s about to be bitten,” says Fitoussi. She couldn’t find a cloak like what she imagined, so she custom-designed a feather-embellished cape and collaborated with Parisian brand Marcy to build it. To perfectly match the pink and red on Emily’s midriff-baring Magda Butrym ensemble, artisans custom-dyed all the plumage, which were hand-sewn on.
Fitoussi also points out that Emily’s profusion of pink pays homage to her Parisian origin story in season one — and also marks a new turn for the character’s fashion story. “That’s the end of the pink. Everyone’s wearing it, and it’s not interesting anymore.”
Sylvie’s longtime client Pierre Cadault (Jean-Christophe Bouvet) is honored with a museum retrospective in the third season.
The exhibition’s opening gala calls back to Emily’s season-one career successes, including a client gig modeling a Pierre Cadault bird-of-paradise white dress, which was actually designed by couturier Stéphane Rolland.
“All the display gowns [in the Pierre Cadault retrospective] are by Stéphane Rolland,” says Fitoussi, “167 haute couture dresses.”
Fitoussi recalls “splashing” Rolland’s gowns with paint to masquerade them as Cadault designs for his disruptive Paris Fashion Week runway — the one that Emily masterminded. The ghost-designed pieces are described as as “‘ringarde‘ and ‘tacky,'” in the script, but according to the costume designer, “[Rolland] is a very, very adorable man and he was very satisfied with the project. He has no problem at all with that. It’s my tribute to him, because he has such a sense of humor. It’s rare.”
The retrospective gala also provides a suitably glam setting for a comedy of errors, featuring a professional and sartorial showdown between Madeline and Sylvie.
Sylvie, of course, pulls a severely sculptural black gown, with a molded spherical collar, out of the Cadault archives. Needing a last-minute option, Madeline savvily rents the same one from Louer the Runway. (Bravo to the writers on that one.) “It’s a couture car crash,” observes a bystander.
Of course, Sylvie wears hers in the most understated French way, while Madeline goes Midwestern American Maximalist with loads of chunky gold jewelry.
Sylvie’s gown is actually a past-collection Rolland, which Fitoussi replicated as a maternity look for an almost-due Madeline. “I chose this design because I was sure that the dress would look wonderful and equally beautiful on those two beautiful woman,” she says.
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Emily’s winged zebra-print blazer, paired with Miu Miu shorts (above), is actually by Dolce & Gabbana. Fitoussi originally had the piece in mind for outrageous best friend Mindy (Ashley Park), but realized that it would be the ideal counter to Emily’s bosses’ stark monochrome.
“She needed to be more powerful and to have more presence,” says Fitoussi.
Mindy realizes her singing dream — with Benoit (Kevin Diaz)’s blessing and, erm, pre-performance support. She also steals the spotlight off-stage in an expanded wardrobe stacked with bedazzled denim, like fully bedazzled jorts by Kevin Germanier for a gathering celebrating Alfie at le chef hot Gabriel (Lucas Bravo)’s restaurant.
“She has no limit,” says Fitoussi. “She’s onstage performing, but she’s performing in her own life all the time. She likes excess. She likes success. She’s the typical girl with total freedom, because she can wear sequins during the day and doesn’t care.”
But Mindy contains multitudes. She makes her jazzy solo debut at La Trompette Bleue in a real statement outfit commensurate with Park’s Tony- and Grammy-nominated talents. Of the illusion-paneled neon-yellow catsuit from Mugler‘s Spring 2022 collection, Fitoussi predicts: “It will be one of the most reposted outfits.”
“She’s very confident, so she can afford to have this strong color,” she adds.
Camille comes to support Mindy’s solo outing — sans Gabriel, who’s working yet another late night at the restaurant. I did a double-take at the usually all-black, Marant-clad Parisian “It Girl,” waiting for her friends in a pink (!) sequined gingham dress by Carolina Herrera. In episode four, Camille also shocks in a lime-green oversize blazer (above) by Jacquemus.
“If I remember well, those are the only two colorful moments [for Camille],” says Fitoussi. “Because she was very, very happy at this point in the story, and we’re preparing the audience. We’re lying to the audience, because we want to show the drama which would be happening in the next episode.”
Staunch Parisian boss Sylvie seems to have reluctantly warmed to Emily and may even be picking up on some of her underling’s traits — and, of course, Emily has always looked up to Sylvie.
“I like to play a mirror game between them because, at this point, clever Emily knows the French rules. She knows what the French style is about, and she’s very respectful and full of admiration for Sylvie,” says Fitoussi.
Emily begins to take on Sylvie’s French minimalism, with a pewter-and-black square-printed blazer by Junya Watanabe, vintage Dries van Noten shorts and black suede tall boots by Roger Vivier in episode seven.
“At the same time, Sylvie’s full of admiration for this annoying little American girl, who’s insolent,” adds Fitoussi, who presented Leroy-Beaulieu with the mirroring concept.
“She said, ‘Mmmm so much color… Doesn’t it look too much like Emily?'” recalls Fitoussi, with a laugh. “Sylvie will still be more French. She needs to keep the crown of the the iconic French woman, but Emily, this time, tried to take the crown.”
Torn between her two mentors and conflicted about her future job situation in Paris, Emily does something drastic: She cuts her own “trauma bangs,” as Mindy says, while a perpetually clueless Gabriel asks, “What did you do to your hair?”
Fitoussi took Emily’s new fringe as a catalyst to veer into new fashion territory.
“It was the starting point of a little bit [of a] ’60s iconic silhouette,” she says, referencing mod muses like Françoise Hardy, Jane Birkin and Jean-Luc Godard favorite Anna Karina.
In episode three, Emily wears a vintage cropped orange Courrèges jacket from Plaisir Palace over a Jean Paul Gaultier mesh bomber with black straight-leg trousers by Ines de la Fressange. To make her strolls along the cobblestone streets a bit easier, she also transitions from stilettos to platforms (like the burgundy patent-leather pair by Christian Louboutin above).
“She’s more in chunky shoes and boots,” says Fitoussi. “You will see a journey.”
Emily’s mid-century inspiration also indicates her trajectory towards becoming a true French Girl™ — “We’re progressing to season four, where she’s supposed to be ‘Parisian,'” explains Fitoussi — although the jury is still out on whether or not she’ll finally learn to speak French.
Through the rest of the season, Emily’s color palette will soften, too — although, Fitoussi can’t totally give up her own “trademark” prints for the character, assuring: “She will never finish in a full black look.”
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