Twenty years ago, the landscape of television changed forever with the premiere of HBO’s groundbreaking series Sex and the City. Centered around a group of Manhattan women struggling with sex, careers, and an unquenchable thirst for the latest accessories, the show was indeed the first of its kind – and has since spawned a seemingly endless stream of knockoffs.
The show is still so popular that it’s hard to believe it was 14 years ago that the final episode aired, much to the dismay of most of us.
Initially based on a newspaper column in The New York Observer by Candace Bushnell, series creator Darren Star had no idea what a phenomenon it would be – nor did Patricia Field, the quirky costume designer who put names like Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo on our radar and made the ladies who loved them fashion icons.
While the show has given way to two less-than-excellent feature films (not to mention The Carrie Diaries on The CW), nothing compares to the original 30-minute episodes. In honor of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) and Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), we’ve compiled ten of the biggest trends the show was responsible for starting.
So, in honor of the 14 years between its last episode and now, we’ve decided to round up nine trends started by the show – from the pink drink that became a household name to the uncomfortable spa treatment we’ve all gotten, well, because Carrie did.
The ladies’ shoe of choice was undoubtedly the Manolo Blahnik. Although they dabbled in the work of Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin during the later seasons, nothing ever compared to the Manolo. The concept of a $400-plus shoe was slightly foreign before Carrie and company stomped on the scene, but they made them a staple for a New York girl-about-town.
The show’s best Manolo moments include the Season Six episode titled “A Woman’s Right to Shoes” when Carrie’s brand-new Blahniks were stolen at a baby shower. The hostess is completely unsympathetic to Carrie’s plight and shames her for spending so much when there are other priorities – like family. Childless and single, Carrie sends them an invitation to her wedding – to herself – and registers at Manolo Blahnik.
These days, you’ll find that many people will roll their eyes if you order a Cosmopolitan – but that’s only because the SATC gals made it so popular that it’s become played out.
It’s unquestionably Carrie’s signature drink, so much so that when going through a drive-thru at a fast food joint, she proclaims, “Hi, I’d like a cheeseburger, please, large fries, and a Cosmopolitan.”
At the end of the first movie adaption, Charlotte inquires as to why they ever stopped drinking them, to which Carrie replies, “Because everyone else started.”
Although our society’s cupcake obsession continues to reach new heights, it was the Sex and the City girls that first put it on the map.
In Season Three, fresh from meeting Aidan Shaw (John Corbett) – a furniture designer who changes her life – Carrie gossips with Miranda over cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery in the West Village. This catapulted Magnolia to position as the It cupcake spot and spawned countless knockoffs.
Every time you get a cupcake handed to you at a PR event, you have Sex and the City to thank, basically.
Every episode, it seemed Carrie emerged with yet another Fendi Baguette. They became the unquestionable It bag, and they still have cachet today.
“In that moment, we were literally creating outfits around the Fendi bag,” the show’s stylist Rebecca Weinberg told InStyle in 2010.
The bag was immortalized in the Season Three episode “Sex and Another City” when Samantha discovers she can find fake Fendis that look almost perfect in Los Angeles. Her plan goes awry when she accuses a Playboy Bunny of stealing her purse at a party, only to find out that the Bunny was not the culprit and has the real version after all. The ladies are kicked out of the Playboy Mansion and lose their taste for fakes once and for all.
New York-based frozen-yogurt chain Tasti D-Lite was one of Charlotte’s favorites for their low-calorie treats that tasted almost identical to regular ice cream. Hordes of New York women everywhere who wanted to emulate everyone’s favorite Park Avenue princess immediately rushed to Tasti D-Lite after a Season Six episode in 2004, prompting massive success for the chain.
In the Season Three episodes when the quintessential New York ladies head to Los Angeles, they discover the Brazilian wax. What initially shocks them becomes a staple in their spa routines – and it did for American women as well. As soon as the treatment was shown on TV, it skyrocketed in popularity. Hey, it may be painful, but if Samantha Jones can handle it, so can you.
The Meatpacking District
The rise of the once-sleazy Meatpacking District (in the 1980s, it was a hub of drug dealing and prostitution) immediately paralleled the timeline of Sex and the City.
In the late 1990s, as the show premiered, high-end shops like Diane von Furstenberg and Stella McCartney had just started to pop up. The show depicted the area as a covetable neighborhood, with PR exec Samantha scoring a snazzy apartment there and the gang regularly brunching at hotspots like Pastis (above).
By the end of the show’s run, the Meatpacking District was the hottest neighborhood in New York City.
This trend was everywhere in the early 2000s, and while some pulled it off, more often than not it translated into a major fashion faux-pas. Naturally, Carrie was one of the rare few who made this work effortlessly. While sometimes, a large flower pinned to her blouse seemed out of place, it’s these quirky touches that made Carrie’s style what it was – if only so many suburban moms didn’t follow suit.
These days, having a Mac computer is pretty commonplace – especially in the media industry. But it wasn’t always that way.
Carrie’s incessant writing on her black PowerBook G3 made the computer more than a prop, it was a main character on the show. Ask any super fan who was a PC user pre-Carrie: They’ve probably since switched, and they’re probably still afraid of “control-alt-delete.”
An earlier version of this article was originally published in June 2013.