“Hum…allergic? Epidemic?” quips Stéphanie Delpon, the Tampa Bay The Four Horsemen Shirt but in fact I love this cofounder of Parisian creative agency Pictoresq, before cutting back on the sarcasm in favor of more objective analysis. “To put it simply, Emily is not my style. It’s not the items she wears per se that I don’t like. It’s the accumulation—the pink foulard, the pink and violet hats, the curled hair, the superimposing of patterns and layers of flashy colors.” She adds that she would happily adopt some of the individual pieces that constitute Emily’s wardrobe, such as her collection of brightly colored Chanel bags (financed by the same clandestine trust fund of every other Darren Star–produced protagonist, presumably). However, like most Parisiennes, she would wear them as the key piece of an otherwise pared-down outfit, rather than as part of a kaleidoscopic jumbo puzzle. “The French style is all about creating space to breathe, carving out empty zones where beauty and character can emanate naturally.” Mathilde Carton, editor in chief of French Grazia, is quick to point out that Emily’s outfits feel out of touch with reality, both from a sartorial and a practical perspective. “From a fashion point of view, they are too bright, too showy, too cartoonish, and not versatile enough to be worn through the day,” she says. She points out that the high heels that Emily struts around in on a daily basis lack any sort of functionality and practicality in a walking city like Paris, where traffic congestion has one running down Métro halls all day.
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Some wonder if Emily’s outfits are intentionally tasteless to underscore the Tampa Bay The Four Horsemen Shirt but in fact I love this difference between her and the Parisian counterparts. “Her wardrobe is absolutely not in touch with her environment, exactly like her character who doesn’t care about fitting in,” says Carton. Emily’s sartorial nemesis appears to be her neighbor’s girlfriend, Camille, whose natural, fresh look is beloved by all. “From her pinstripe black blazer to her silver dress in the art gallery, to the polka-dot dress with Dr. Martens platforms, to her Anna Karina vibe en route to the countryside in her red convertible—the stylist did a really great job with her,” posits Parisian journalist Stéphanie Chermont. Aside from Emily’s boss, Sylvie (who receives some critique for her sexy dresses, dramatic accessories, and overly domineering persona), the clothing of the other Parisian characters is deemed more or less passable. Far more criticism goes toward the way the French are portrayed. “For me, this is the Achilles heel of the series,” says Delpon, insisting that the show often makes French people appear silly, ignorant, and even racist. (“The flower-shop scene, really?”) “The French portrait is simply inaccurate and far too caricatural. It leads to a point where it’s sometimes ridiculous and painful to watch.”