Molly Rogers, Costume Designer for “And Just Like That…”
“And Just Like That…” in Molly’s “snack pack”
When And Just Like That… the long-gestating sequel to the highly successful Sex And The City finally got the green light, Pat Field, the series’ ‘famed Costume Designer was no longer available. She was working on Netflix’s Emily in Paris. So, HBO hired her next-in-line, Molly Rogers, a self-confessed, “Pat’s Child”. Sex and the City doesn’t need an introduction, but Molly Rogers does. We spoke by Zoom at her beloved place of retreat, Miami Beach.
You earned a degree in psychology, but then a psychic told you in London that your future is in fashion. You listened and checked out Pat Field in New York. How did you become a “Pat’s child”?
I read an article about Patricia Field in 1984 and on my first day in New York I went to Pat’s store. It was a very famous store on 8th Street. She was in an appointment with Madonna’s stylist and they were looking at rubber bracelets. I introduced myself to Pat, I was wearing a paper dress and I had dreadlocks, and she asked me if I knew how to fold T-shirts, and I started to work that day. And then everything led to styling. To be a Pat’s child means that you’re a workaholic because Pat’s work ethic is unbelievable. She will have a coffee and a cigarette for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She’s so focused, I’ve learned work habits from her. And I think I got a lot of her eye for detail that is so important on television and film. But the most important thing about being a Pat’s child is that you were immersed in the art and the night club scene of the 80s and Pat hired a lot of people in her store who could not find employment, we were wild, and, on the fringe, it was a real family of misfits, and you were worthy if Pat had you there.
Starting out on Sex and the City, where did you go for research?
Pat was friends with Ina who had a resale store. And I remember the first meeting we had with Sarah Jessica. Pat showed her a second-hand fur from Ina’s, and Sarah Jessica was on board right from the beginning. It was going to be vintage, a mix of things, a moving fashion magazine. Darren Starr told Pat about the women in great detail. Pat and Sarah Jessica talked that she would always have bare legs, she would never wear a pair of hose on the show. That was really novel.
How much say did the girls, Sarah Jessica, Kristen, Cynthia and Kim have in what they were going to wear?
They all knew what should be happening with their clothes in the scenes, and Pat really rolled in a volume in the fitting room, so there was a lot to choose from. It’s really hard to be on a show and send emails of fitting photos to 20 producers on the West Coast and get 20 opinions, and everything gets watered down. But Darren let Pat have full creative control. We could do whatever we wanted. The only thing they ever questioned was the opening sequence, the tutu. They were a little skeptical, but they ended up using it in the title sequence. And you see the success that came from being left alone.
And how much input did they have now, 20 years later?
The girls were so excited to be back, like we never left. It was the same atmosphere, the same energy. They loved to look through the racks and pull things up and we’d all look in the mirror with the same critical eye and say, ‘That needs to be shorter, or that’s not flattering,’ we did a vote: it’s ready to go on camera, let’s move on. It was really collaborative and fun.
When you had more than one choice, how did you decide this was the one?
We invited Michael Patrick King into the room and walked him through the episode. We would have all the costume changes on racks and do it in a circle, and if we had two outfits that were vying against each other, we had to make that decision. Michael Patrick King had the ultimate say when he came into the fitting room for the “show and tell” presentation. I love what he said about us (our department) … “that’s where creativity meets manipulation.” He knows us well! Sarah Jessica would say let’s hold one back and use it in another episode. A lot of times the decision was made by the color of the wall she was sitting against.
How would you describe the girls’ fashion style in one or two words individually?
I’d like to describe Carrie as whimsical, the best word for Charlotte is polished, and Miranda, she’s more relaxed now.
How much did you feel the pressure of the legacy of the original show?
I knew if I let anything like that get inside my head I would be in trouble, because I would start editing myself and thinking how it’s going to be judged by the public. It’s a big stage to be judged on. So, I continued to shop and pull things that I loved. You can’t have anything in the fitting room that you’re not in love with.
How did you select the pieces from the original series that you wanted to reuse?
Very carefully. When Carrie put on that blue (Manolo) heels it would be sentimental for the fans, and we wanted to put them in a scripted scene and give them their own spotlight. Some of them are like the characters, like the (Versace) couture gown. People go crazy when they see it again on her.
How different is it to dress a 50-something from a 30-something?
I don’t like numbers. I try to ignore it. When the girls felt confident in it, then it was a winner. I think when you’re in your thirties you’re much more experimental, and by the time you’re fifty you know that color doesn’t look good on you, or you don’t like long sleeves, or if you see an oversized jacket, you’re always going to buy it. You’re more in tune with what you want to throw on. In your thirties you’re still trying to figure out all of that. By the time you’re fifty you kind of know who you are. And that’s what Michael Patrick told us at the first meeting, that this show is about change.
The secret of fashion on Sex and the City was that it mixed high and low. Where did you go for the low?
The world has changed. You shop online now, there’re several consignment stores online. Barney’s closed, Century 21 closed. It’s a pleasure to go to a vintage store and actually touch and feel things, I prefer that over online shopping.
Where did you find those unique pieces – the long tulle skirt, the vintage (Jean Paul Gaultier) jumpsuit, the baby blue (Norma Kamali) dress?
The long tulle skirt came from underneath a ballgown I found for $12 in a Palm Beach thrift store. They had a rack of really chic ball gowns, and I took them all because I felt we may use them all, or some piece of these gowns. The vintage (JPG) jumpsuit is from a vintage storage, and that jumpsuit was really rare. When Sarah Jessica saw it, she was really happy, she said this is really daring Carrie, and I want to put it in as scene. And she meets her publisher in that jumpsuit. The baby blue (Norma Kamali) dress I found online. She was going to do a stunt projectile vomiting, so I knew I needed six. It was sold out in pink, and I knew she would look incredible in blue, I ordered them, and she was like, that’s the one!
I heard you started vintage shopping in Florida. But it’s a very different fashion scene from New York. What did you find in Florida that ended up on the show?
I was astounded at how much we used from Florida. There’s a lavender (Carolina Herrera) dress that Carrie wears in Soho when she tries to find Natasha with the girls, it was from the outlet mall here. And it was great that the producer said we can shop here for two weeks because it paid off. And there’s another dress that I found up in Palm Beach County, a vintage dress from tan to like blue and Carrie wore a scarf and a straw hat with that in a scene where she’s looking at a new apartment with her realtor. We cherry picked my co-designer, Danny Santiago’s vintage collection. We used that on so many pieces for Miranda, Carrie, Charlotte, Seema, Lisa Todd.
Let’s talk about the shoes. Carrie is really concerned about the hip surgery to get back to heels from flats. What’s so wrong with flats?
I agree, there’s nothing wrong with flats. But you remember the famous scene from the original show when the characters walk up to Barney’s and saw a pair of Louboutin’s in the window? Carrie said to the shoes: ‘Hello, lover’. It’s your trademark. You’re not running around in sneakers in Manhattan as Carrie. I don’t want to see Carrie in flats. I subscribe to HBO Max to see Carrie fly down a city block in a gorgeous pair of high heels.
Why don’t we see a pair of shoes of Sarah Jessica Parker’s own designs?
I think a pair snuck in there… It’s wise not to mix the two, but we could, there were plenty to have. Honestly, if the shoe is correct for the outfit I don’t care where it came from. There were 300 pairs of shoes in that room.
Sarah Jessica Parker has a huge costume archive. Please tell me about it.
She started saving pieces on Season 3. It’s a temperature-controlled environment, all are in very good condition, the archive is computerized, there’s a big plastic container with all the flower brooches she wore, it’s incredible that we had access to it and could pull things out.
You call yourself an accessory nut. What would we find in Molly’s snack pack?
I have a little box of things that I drive around in different shows to see if we use them. Most of them come from places that don’t exist anymore. And some come from sample sales that all the big designers used to have. I have a (Dior) belt that I use as a necklace… Maybe we used a bathrobe from my collection because a bathrobe is really hard to find.
What do accessories do to an outfit?
They finish it, they’re the bow on a Christmas package, the cherry on a cupcake, they complete it. Especially a hat. There’s no point in wearing a hat if the director wants you to take it off halfway through the scene. Props are very important, and Sarah Jessica knows exactly how to use them. And it says a lot about the character.
How many pairs of shoes, outfits, bags have been playing on the show?
There’s no way to know. I have no idea. I know they were doing 100 returns every day, it’s a huge volume. Maybe 200 pairs of shoes for Carrie.
What have been your most favorite pieces on And Just Like That… for each girl?
One of my favorite pieces was the dress Carrie wore to the funeral that came from Danny’s vintage warehouse. I liked Charlotte’s black and white (Prada) dress, she looked very chic. And Miranda, she looks incredible in jumpsuits. Easy, effortless, relaxed.
What was the most expensive and least expensive piece on the show?
The most expensive piece we probably borrowed from designers (like Valentino, Dior and Chanel). If we needed something they were kind to lend it. There was a robe that I ended up buying for Sarah Jessica that was really expensive. Probably the most expensive thing was jewelry, that we also borrowed (from Fred Leighton). Sarah Jessica fell in love with a little collar with 18th century opals, she wore it with everything, and then I had to return it. The least expensive items were those little socks with the balls that Sarah Jessica wore when she had the hip surgery.
What items did the girls get to keep after the show wrapped?
I guess they get to keep whatever they want that’s not loaned. I don’t think we let them have anything yet because they’re waiting to hear if they’re going to do a Season 2. They get to keep their clothes and the shoes, the three girls.
And what did you keep?
Myself? Nothing. HBO owns everything. But the best thing I came away with, one of the girls that worked in the department, made me a Christmas decoration, it’s the bread delivery guy that worked for Mario.
Did you get a congratulatory note from Pat Field?
We’re really good friends. I saw her two days ago for lunch, she’s in Miami right now, ran away from the 16-degree weather in New York. We don’t really talk about the show, I don’t ask her about Emily in Paris. But she’s very proud of Danny and me, she watched all the episodes, she passed the baton. She loves challenges.
More photos of the costumes on Instagram: @andjustlikethatcostumes.