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Eric Daman on the Pressures of Dressing a Young Carrie Bradshaw

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Eric Daman on the Pressures of Dressing a Young Carrie Bradshaw

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People with high-pressure jobs: A firefighter, the President of the United States, a New York City taxi driver, and Eric Daman.

Why Daman, you ask? His job, the costume designer for a new TV show, might not seem too stressful on paper, but trust us. His is of legendary proportions: He has to dress one of the most fashionable fictional characters in history … Carrie Bradshaw.

Yes, you can start sweating for him now.

The new series, The Carrie Diaries, is the 1980s-set origin story of the designer-shoe-collecting, sex-column-writing, Manhattan-dwelling fashionista made famous by Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City. Lucky for Daman, he has some experience with the woman, having assisted designer Patricia Field on the SATC set for years. And since then, he oversaw all things style on that little designer-obsessed show called Gossip Girl, so he seems to know how to dress a chic high schooler, too.

Still, does he have the Manolos to get the job done, and done right? We asked him what he's learned from his SATC predecessors, what's inside high-school Carrie's enviable closet, and what his own old yearbooks revealed about the crazy '80s.

You come into this with some quality Carrie Bradshaw experience. What lessons did you glean from that job that you're applying to this?
The biggest lesson I learned was go big or go home. Pat and SJP both had such an amazing understanding of how color, print, and silhouette worked on the screen. Being around them and being a part of their creative process was magical … and mythical! So, I've been applying the "go big" part for the New York City portion of her storyline, but pulling back to give her Connecticut self a more subdued suburban feel.

A lot of fashion lovers prefer to leave the '80s in the past. How are you dealing with the more notable '80s trends — both good and bad?
 Fortunately there is a lot of good '80s-inspired fashion trending right now, so keeping an aspirational authenticity to the look is a very realistic concept. A lot of '80s fashion wasn't the cutest or most flattering. By keeping the shapes and fabrics contemporary but playing with colors and layers, the look feels very retro-mod and cool. We are working with classic '80s colors and prints but in modern, more slimming shapes and silhouettes. Not giant shoulder pads and oversized bulk — but there will be scrunches!

We hear you turned to your old yearbooks and '80s magazines for inspiration. What did you find?
I refreshed my '80s fashion sense — having been a fashion curious teen in the 80s was an added bonus — by rewatching all of the John Hughes classics as well as a mix of quiet Connecticut-inspired hometown films like Ordinary People, and of course getting out my high school yearbooks. I found out I had really big hair! NYC becomes an important part to her character and style as well, so I poured through Interview magazines from the era as well as films like Liquid Sky, Slaves of New York and Desperately Seeking Susan. My biggest realization was that the two worlds were epically different, and all I wanted back then was to flee to the big city and become my own Carrie Bradshaw.

Didn't we all! Describe young Carrie's fashion sense. Who are her inspirations? And how does she already have such an enviable closet as a teen?
Our teen Carrie's style will be idiosyncratic but quieter than the Carrie we already know. She is at an age where she is experimenting, learning, and creating her individual unique style. Keeping all of this in mind when conceiving her look, I wanted  to give her a unique point of view mixing colors and patterns, as well as eras — obvious '80s-inspired items with pieces from her "mother's closet" that feel more '60s and '70s with contemporary flair.

You must feel a little pressure to make the fashions in the show amazing, considering the source material. What are some of the big stops you're pulling out for the show? 
Dressing a young Carrie Bradshaw was at first quite intimidating but ultimately exhilarating. It was very important to keep in mind that she is a young high school student and still figuring out her style. And of course the era plays a huge roll in the overall look. Conceptually, we hope to create an aspirational authentic look, not an overtly kitschy '80s one. The "big stops" are the subtle use of couture, designer shoes, and crinolines.

Do you plan to pay homage to any of adult Carrie's famous SATC looks, like the tutu or the "Carrie" necklace?
I draw from it every day, trying to create buried treasures or "easter eggs" that hopefully will resonate with the audience as a-ha! moments, leading them to think, "That's where the inspiration for the Carrie necklace came from!" Spoiler: Young Carrie wears a signature '80s-style "C" necklace by Alex Woo.

Do you have a roster of designers you are working with at this point? Any on your wish list?
Right now, we're working with Marc by Marc Jacobs, which is integral to the aspirational authenticity, and we're sprinkling in some couture like Georges Chakra. Keep your eye out for a bit of Dior, Valentino, and Moschino. As for my wish list? Norma Kamali!

Okay, enough chit-chat. When will we see Carrie meet her first pair of Manolos?
Oh, there's only one way to find out. That's to tune in!

The Carrie Diaries premieres tonight at 8 p.m. EST on the CW. Follow Eric at EricDamanStyle.com and on Twitter at @EricDaman_Style.

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