Lily Collins Explains the Difference Between Emily in Paris and Sex and the City

With Sex and the City creator Darren Star behind Emily in Paris, fans are bound to draw comparisons between both shows. But Lily Collins says they are "very, very different."

By Jonathan Borge Oct 02, 2020 4:10 PMTags
Watch: Lily Collins on How "Emily in Paris" Differs From "Sex and the City"

Oh, to be young, in love and get paid to work in Paris. Is that so much to ask for? In 2020, the answer is a big fat yes. But luckily for us dreamers, a new Netflix show allows us to escape and live that fantasy for 10 episodes.

Starring Lily Collins as its titular character, Emily in Paris is a delightful, easy binge that'll have fans of Gossip Girl, The Devil Wear's Prada and Sex and the City immediately asking their group text, "Wait, am I literally Emily?" Anyone would certainly want a taste of her life.

A remarkably self-assured and positive woman in her twenties, Emily galivants from the midwest to the City of Lights, where, by day, she thinks up witty social media strategy for a luxury marketing company (not as snoozy as it sounds) and, by night, drinks champagne and meets men that, well, you'll have to watch and see. It's the perfectly stylish show to devour with a glass of bubbly nearby.

Sex in the City's Carrie Bradshaw's Best Looks

Speaking of style, creator Darren Star tapped the legendary costume designer Patricia Field for Emily's wardrobe, which is why it's tough not to compare Emily to Carrie Bradshaw scene after scene. (Yes, Star and Field collaborated together in the beloved HBO franchise.) Like Carrie, Emily wears ultra glam designs by Dior, Chanel, and Vivienne Westwood while hopping to picturesque locations like Paris' Luxembourg Gardens and the Musée des Arts Forains. But as Collins recently told E! News, their sublime taste doesn't make these two characters one in the same. 

Netflix, Craig Blankenhorn/Hbo/Darren Star Prods/Kobal/Shutterstock

"I totally get the comparisons between Sex and the City and the show because it's a Darren Star and Patricia Field collaboration and so that totally makes sense," Collins says. "Carrie loved fashion, Emily loves fashion. But down to the actual fine-tuning of both of the storylines, they are very, very different."

In fact, as a producer on the show, Collins certainly had a say in that fine-tuning. Collins adds, "Working and collaborating with Patricia Field was incredible. And the aesthetic of the show is so much based on Paris, but also the fashion. And so to be asked for my opinion to incorporate my own ideas and style into that was really special."

Those tiny tweaks are what helped Collins make Emily even more unique.

"I think that Emily, like myself, grew up watching Sex and the City. I think she really loved Carrie Bradshaw as well as the other characters and probably had like pictures saved of what Carrie wore at certain times, when she was traveling, or different attitudes or attributes that Carrie had," she says. "I think they both love what they do. They both love to work and very much incorporate those life experiences into their work."

"But ultimately we didn't want to create a new Carrie because Carrie is Carrie and Sarah Jessica Parker is Sarah Jessica Parker. So we didn't want to recreate anything and hopefully Emily stands out as Emily herself. She also, you know, she loves fashion. I think to be compared to Carrie Bradshaw would probably be something that Emily would be very flattered by but I think she would never want to recreate one of her icons."

Unlike Sex and the City, which of course revolved around New York, Paris itself was a central character in this new show. The only time we see Emily leave Paris is for a scene shot in France's Loire Valley, but no spoilers. Speaking about filming across the pond, Collins called the opportunity a "dream." 

Netflix, Craig Blankenhorn/Hbo/Darren Star Prods/Kobal/Shutterstock

"It would be impossible to have Emily in Paris without the actual Paris element to it," Collins says. "And there's just something so rich in the history of the architecture, the aesthetic of the city that totally lends itself to the experience."

Like Emily, Collins also stumbled to seamlessly adjust to life in an entirely new city. She revealed that while experiencing Paris for the first time as a local, not just a tourist, she went without hot water for two weeks and dealt with a broken elevator while facing plenty of language barriers. 

"I just couldn't believe that I didn't have hot water for two weeks! It was nearing the fall and it was really getting quite cold," Collins says, explaining that she'd often shower at a filming studio nearby before returning to her apartment. "I'd be like, ‘Oh my God, this is so meta. This is so Emily...it was just kind of funny and I had to laugh about it. Playing Emily, where she's so optimistic and just keeps pivoting, I'm like, ‘Emily can do it, I think I can do it."

Aggressively optimistic? Hmm. Had Carrie Bradshaw not had any running hot water, she'd likely check into the Ritz.