Those Sex and the City gals – Sara Jessica Parker as Carrie, Kim Cattrall as Samantha, Cynthia Nixon as Miranda and Kristin Davis as Charlotte – have taken over America as well as Europe. I got a call yesterday from a friend in Ireland, Avia Costello, asking if I had seen the film – and indeed I had.
She wanted to be certain I saw the movie, not only because it's fun and well done, but its sets also are adorned with ever-so-today furniture, including vintage-inspired pieces created by that decorating diva – and my mentor – Dorothy Draper. Draper just happened to design those black-and-gold Espana bunching chests seen in the film's depiction of Vogue's headquarters. (Sharp-eyed Brinsley Matthews, my European associate, also says he noticed a Dorothy Draper lamp on the Vogue set.)
The Draper chests, mean-while, are available through the furniture firm Kindel Furniture Co. of Grand Rapids, Mich. They were featured by the manufacturer at last spring's furniture exhibition in High Point, N.C.
Available in colors like soft aqua blue and white, the chests are 70-inches wide by 20-and-a-half-inches deep with three drawers per chest. In the film, three of the chests are bunched together to form a long sideboard or office unit. The chests are very versatile and can be used in a bedroom for storage or in a living room as a bar/server or display unit. Separated, they can be used on the sides of beds – a large night-table unit is always useful.
Regarding Sex and the City, I can tell you that the film is filled with everything of the moment in New York. When it comes to ordering wine in a Manhattan restaurant, for instance, Shiraz is the only way to go. New Yorkers of the younger set, the mid-life set and the older set – just as long as they're in the know – always say "Shiraz," enamored as they are of the Australian "vino."
The film also depicts the restaurant Lumi at Lexington Avenue and 70th Street, with its sidewalk-style café frequented by the Eastside crowd. Trying not to give away any critical plot points, I will tell you that Charlotte is at Lumi for lunch when she suddenly finds herself on the sidewalk in a stressful situation with unintended consequences. Don't miss Lumi when you are in New York for neighborhood good food and a quiet atmosphere.
And right now at New York's 54th Street Manolo Blahnik store, you'll find in the window Sara Jessica Parker's blue shoes, with their sparkling clasps – the same sapphire pair you'll see in the film's empty closet. The price per pair is $895. I guess you know that the women of Sex and the City don't go shopping at bargain basements.
There is lots of high style and remarkable color in the film, including a cocktail scene in another establishment that was certainly familiar to Dorothy Draper– Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel at 76th and Madison. The bar was among Draper's design projects, even if most of her work disappeared in subsequent renovations. Still, The Carlyle is most likely New York's best hotel, style-wise – a revival of Old World glamour. On your next trip to New York, do as the Sex and the City stars do and have a martini at Bemelmans.
The visual images in the film, with all those up-to-the-minute references, make Sex and the City a historical document of sorts, and as time goes by, we'll look back and think: That movie showed what 2008 was all about style-wise, décor-wise and fashion-wise.
And by any measure, Sex and the City is a must-see.
By Carleton Varney
Interior designer, author and columnist Carleton Varney owns Dorothy Draper & Co. in New York City, one of the oldest established interior design firms in the United States. Varney's worldwide roster of clients includes many in Palm Beach. He welcomes comments. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at Carleton Varney, c/o Darrell Hofheinz, Palm Beach Daily News, 265 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach 33480.