Emily in Paris – Fashion Hit or Fashion Faux Pas?

Words by Suraya Rumbold Kazzuz

If there is one thing that the latest Netflix show Emily in Paris emphasises throughout the series, it’s that Lily Collins’ character, Emily, is in Paris to provide an American perspective. While this is evident in her actions and her work as a social media strategist, it is perhaps most evident in her clothes. Some of the greatest criticisms of the show has been that it does not provide an authentic example of French culture – but perhaps this is the point. Emily can sometimes be irritatingly unaware of the fact that she now lives in Paris, which means that she must attempt to assimilate to a different culture. Often times this is evident in her choice of fashion. While Emily’s outfits have been majorly criticised, I find that there is reason behind some of the show’s most …rengarde fashion choices.

Here we see the first two fits that Emily wears in Paris. The very first, a white T-shirt under a white flannel shirt…under another red flannel shirt. The choice to couple a flannel shirt with another flannel shirt is relatively inoffensive but it certainly screams, ‘I am American! I love flannel so much I’ll wear it twice!’. The second fit shows us how Emily, in her naiveite and ignorance of French culture, has created this amalgamation of chic French fashion, a patterned skirt and a plain white top, with a blouse which literally has an image of the Eiffel Tower on it, yet is the complete opposite of French fashion. It’s as though we can literally picture Emily’s thought process as she picked up this blouse; she’s in France so she should wear a blouse with the Eiffel tower on it, no? It is essentially a slightly more fashionable version of an I love Paris t-shirt. But both of these outfits let us know, Emily is not at all French, which is the point.

This outfit is perhaps one of the most widely hated of the show. While I know that the designers are intentionally trying to be bold with this Dope Tavio dress, and I would love to try and attempt to redeem this choice, I can’t help but be reminded of the clothes I would have picked out for myself in 2012, which is a fashion decision I’m not quite ready to fall back into. Remember the twenty year rule of fashion – it generally takes twenty years for a trend to die and then become trendy again. So perhaps in 2030 I will regret hating on this dress, but for now I have to give it a 1/10. Emily gains a point only for the sake of the Chanel Cruz cardigan.

 A moment for the bucket hat. Here are two examples of how Emily’s style evolves throughout the show – the longer she is in Paris, the better her fashion sense seems to get. These outfits are some of the most notable from the show, particularly the green Chanel outfit which has even the harshest critics complimenting the shows stylists. The shows impact has to be noted here. Following the release of the series, online searches for bucket hats increased by 342%. It seems Emily’s impressive marketing skills have come to use outside of the show!

A personal favourite from the show is this outfit from episode 8. This Vivienne Westwood Cropped Tartan seems to me like a little throwback to the unfortunate flannel on flannel look we saw at the beginning of the series. We see here that Emily has been in Paris long enough that she is beginning to get a grasp on French fashion and style. She pairs the outfit with causal blue jeans and a pair of Christian Louboutin pumps to show off her new nonchalant yet extravagant style. She seems to have learned the power of pairing the bold with the elegant.

However, Emily will never fully give up her grasp on the loud and rather chaotic fashion sense upon which she relies. While we see her fashion sense does certainly evolve, as is evident in the season finale, Emily still depends on her rather unconventional style.

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There are certainly some fashion faux pas throughout the series. But there is one thing we can count on; Emily does not shy away from her sense of fashion. Whether we personally like the outfits or not, we can’t help but watch the next episode to see what fashion choices the show has in store. As polarising as the clothes seem to be, the show has certainly started a conversation about what fashion is and whether it matters that an outfit you can wear and enjoy will potentially enrage a couple hundred Twitter users.