'The Carrie Diaries' Costume Designer on Swatch Watches & Other '80s Awesomeness

'The Carrie Diaries' Costume Designer on Swatch Watches & Other '80s Awesomeness
(Photo courtesy of The CW)

She's baaaack! Carrie Bradshaw's making her big return to the small screen tonight when The Carrie Diaries—the prequel to Sex And The City—premieres on The CW at 8 p.m. ET.

But before we're swept up by the sure-to-be bonzana of crazy '80s fashion (hellooo cheeky prints and big hair!) we got a second to chat with the show's costume designer Eric Daman (formerly of Gossip Girl) about Swatch watches (remember those?), his style muses from the era, and everything you need to know about Carrie's killer wardrobe.

'The Carrie Diaries' Costume Designer on Swatch Watches & Other '80s Awesomeness
(Photo courtesy of The CW) Austin Butler as Sebastian—oh, a love interest maybe?—and AnnaSophia Robb as Carrie

StyleBistro: This isn't your first time styling Carrie—you worked a few seasons with Patricia Field on Sex & The City. So how did it feel to assume full responsibility of the prequel?

Eric Daman: No pressure! No pressure at all... I was actually quite stressed out by the thought of it, not to mention having to take on such an overwhelming task while overlapping with my duties on Gossip Girl. Soon thereafter, though, I was elated and felt honored to have been asked to carry on and breath new life into such an amazing fashion torch. Ultimately, I hope to do right and pay homage to the fashion icon we know and love, as well.

SB: How does young Carrie's style compare to the SJP "Sex and the City" Carrie we've all grown up adoring:

ED: It was very important to keep in mind that she is a young high school student in Connecticut and still figuring out her style. And, of course, the era played a huge roll in the over all look. Our young CB's style will be idiosyncratic, but quieter than the Carrie we already know.

She's at an age where she's 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. Mixing obvious '80s-inspired items with pieces from her "mother's closet" that feel more '60s and '70s with contemporary flair.

SB: Are there any big style reveals we can expect to see—like where the "Carrie" necklace comes from or her OTT Manolo obsession?

ED: I draw from SATC every day, trying to create "buried treasures," or as Amy B. Harris (creator/producer/writer) calls them "Easter eggs"' that hopefully will resonate with the audience as A-ha moments—leading them to think "A-ha! That's where the inspiration for the Carrie necklace came from!" (Young Carrie wears a signature '80s style "C" necklace by Alex Woo). It's an intentional process that hopefully is nuanced enough to feel fresh and new, but integral to who Carrie is stylistically. 

'The Carrie Diaries' Costume Designer on Swatch Watches & Other '80s Awesomeness
(Photos by PacificCoastNews.com)

SB: The '80s weren't exactly a, shall we say, forgivable fashion era. How did you make Carrie look era-appropriate without looking kitschy?

ED: I refreshed my '80s fashion sense, having been a fashion curious teen in the '80s was an added bonus, by re-watching 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. NYC becomes an important part to her character and style as well, so I pored through Interview mags from the era, as well as films like Liquid Sky, Slaves of New York, and Desperately Seeking Susan.

Fortunately, there is a lot of '80s inspired-fashion trending right now, so keeping an "aspirational authenticity" to the look was a very realistic concept. A lot of '80s fashion wasn't the cutest or most flattering. But by keeping the shapes and fabrics contemporary, and playing with colors and layers, the look feels very retro-modern and cool. We're working with classic '80s colors and prints but in modern more slimming shapes and silhouettes. Not giant shoulder pads and oversized bulk.

'The Carrie Diaries' Costume Designer on Swatch Watches & Other '80s Awesomeness
(Photo by PacificCoastNews.com) OMG, is that Carrie in a scrunchie?!

SB: So about those looks, where did you find her outfits?

ED: The clothing came from a lot of my favorite haunts in NYC: Amarcord, Beacon's Closet, Ressurrection, Frock and Screaming Mimi's for vintage. And then I relied on fast fashion shops like Topshop, H&M, and high-end stores like Saks Fifth Avenue to give the look its  contemporary "aspirational authenticity" we hoped to develop. There, of course, will be some big name designers sprinkled in like Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Missoni, and Georges Chakra to name a few…

SB: Did you rock out to any '80s jams during the styling process?

ED: We listen to it ['80s music] constantly during fittings and during prep. I actually have my '80s pop station on Pandora playing now! [In the '80s] I was an MTV junkie, the more Madonna the better! I soon graduated to new romantic and fell in love with Adam Ant and Duran Duran, then with anxiety adolescence came an induction to The Cure, The Smiths, and punk-rock Sex Pistols, Ramones, and so on. 

'The Carrie Diaries' Costume Designer on Swatch Watches & Other '80s Awesomeness
(Photo courtesy of The CW)

SB: If you could kill any single horrible fashion trend from the '80s, what would it be?

ED: I definitely think nude panty hose should stay buried, even Princess Kate barely pulls them off.

SB: And last but certaintly not least, what did you wear in the '80s?

ED: I was Swatch [watch] obsessed! I wore four at a time and once my girlfriend and I put both of ours together and belted them around us as we smugly walked hand-in-hand down our Midwestern high school halls. And my senior year I went through a Robert Smith phase. I had really big, kinda really bad hair, but I don't regret it!

Check out the trailer for The Carrie Diaries, below, and be sure to tune to The CW at 8 p.m. (EST) for the series premiere! Also, don't forget to follow Daman on his blog and Twitter—he'll be live-tweeting and posting all sorts of exciting insidery stuff tonight.