ITS storyline was charmingly predictable – but the sweeping city views and stunning cast made Emily In Paris a surprise TV smash.
The simple plot saw marketing exec Emily Cooper move from Chicago to the French capital for work and fall in love with the place — and its hunks.
Leading actress Lily Collins — daughter of rock superstar Phil — wowed audiences in her endless pieces of high fashion when the first series of the comedy drama aired on Netflix during the winter lockdown last year.
It has been created by Darren Star with costumes from Patricia Field. Together they also helped make Sex And The City such an iconic show.
But Lily is quick to point out it is not all about glitzy clothes and designer fluff.
She believes the 60million households that streamed Emily In Paris found something deeper in the show.
The 32-year-old said: “We had no way of knowing the show would come out at a time when the world needed to be reminded of what fun felt like, and how important it is to smile, giggle and to share together.
“There’s an escapism to the show that goes beyond the fact it is based in Paris. All of those elements combined allow people to disappear for a little while and laugh together.
“That’s something that has struck a chord with everyone, myself included.”
Viewers said the show’s glamour and escapism was the perfect tonic during lockdown.
But not everyone agreed. When the show was nominated for two Golden Globe awards ahead of other more diverse casts and critically acclaimed works such as I May Destroy You, there was uproar.
English-born Lily, one of Phil’s five children, said: “It was definitely an interesting time for the world when those Golden Globe nominations came out.
“Honestly, my focus and my concern was more on the subject matter at hand and change that needed to be made, as opposed to how I fitted into all of that with the show.
“Yeah, it was definitely a lot. People said they were laughing and smiling for the first time in a long time. I was so proud of that.
“I did not expect it to all of a sudden be something that people were upset about.”
Another criticism came from the French, who argued the show only focused on the Paris tourist spots.
It seems the creators took that on board and this series will show Emily trying harder to learn French and move beyond the Seine.
But the froth that made it so popular remains.
With Darren Star behind it, there is no surprise Emily In Paris shares so many themes with its Nineties and Noughties forerunner.
When Carrie Bradshaw burst on to screens in 1998 wearing her white tutu skirt, viewers were captivated with her glamorous life in New York.
Patricia is a genius in the way she mixes patterns, colours, prints, textures, shapes and designers
Sitting at home in rainy Britain, Sex And The City offered escapism and Emily In Paris now claims to do that for a whole new generation.
In many ways, Emily is straight out of Carrie’s mould — both have jobs in the media that are so well paid they can live a champagne lifestyle while barely working.
And both have enviable wardrobes because the same woman is in charge of their looks.
More than 20 years ago, costume designer Patricia Field made Carrie an icon and is now working her magic on Emily.
But Lily believes her character is actually more stylish.
She said: “Emily is bright, bold, bubbly and she is not afraid to take risks in fashion.
“I have admired Patricia’s work for years. She is fearless and her costumes are very much characters in themselves.
“Patricia is a genius in the way she mixes patterns, colours, prints, textures, shapes and designers.
“The first time I met her, she was like, ‘OK, what do you think Emily would wear?
"Who is she? Do you want to wear heels? Do you want to wear flats? Do you want to wear dresses more of the time?’”
Series two promises style-watchers further developments in Emily’s wardrobe.
Lily added: “One of the bonuses of the way we filmed season two is that we got to incorporate vintage and we have reused certain key items in really interesting ways.
“I think it shows how Emily is a young woman who loves certain pieces of clothing and can’t just go out and spend money all of the time.
“So we mix in new designers, streetwear and high street brands, as well as higher-end stuff. It’s really fun to see how we can mix vintage and new and make it relatable yet still have that wish fulfilment.”
One of the outfits Lily says we will see more of is the Eiffel Tower shirt dress.
She added: “I have a lot of favourite looks. I can’t help but reference the Eiffel Tower silk shirt because I just felt that, with the Mona Lisa bag, was a real tongue-in-cheek Emily moment.
“A lot of my favourite outfits are from this new season. The wardrobe went up a notch, which I didn’t even know was possible.”
We mix in new designers, streetwear and high street brands, as well as higher-end stuff. It’s really fun to see how we can mix vintage and new and make it relatable yet still have that wish fulfilment
After the backlash of the Golden Globes, Lily tried to do more to improve the diversity of the cast and crew.
British actor Lucien Laviscount is just one new addition, as a love interest.
Lily said: “If there’s ever an opportunity to do better, then do better and have more representation and inclusion.
“There were certain conversations we became a part of and I felt like it was definitely an opportunity to do better in season two.”
Lily, who is also a producer on the show, added: “Now that we have seen these relationships built in season one, we get to dive into more of their backstories.
“You can imagine when you are not seeing Emily and her friend Mindy on screen, of course they have been like, ‘So tell me more about you.’ We just haven’t been able to see that because we only had ten episodes.
“Now we have so much more, which is very exciting. I think the backstory is what I am excited for people to see most.
"We want to be invested in the characters, so knowing where they came from and where they are going to go is so important.
“Emily has yet to find all the qualities she’s looking for in a guy. There is that connection with Gabriel, but now she has Camille in that love triangle, so I think there’s still experiences and adventure to be had. She’s still finding herself.”
Lily began acting at the age of just two in BBC series Growing Pains.
Early roles followed, in US teen drama 90210, and as Sandra Bullock’s daughter in 2009 film The Blind Side.
She remained busy and rose to prominence in 2013 in fantasy series The Mortal Instruments and 2014 movie romcom Love, Rosie, before leading the cast in Warren Beatty’s 2016 comedy drama Rules Don’t Apply, for which she was nominated at the Golden Globes.
In 2017, she played Fantine in a BBC mini series of Les Miserables, then opposite Zac Efron in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, the biopic of US serial killer Ted Bundy.
It’s so great to play someone who doesn't take herself too seriously and who allows comedy to infiltrate every aspect of her life
Many other roles followed before Emily In Paris came knocking.
Lily said: “I have always been looking for a character like Emily and something with this level of comedy to it.
“It’s so great to play someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously and who allows comedy to infiltrate every aspect of her life.
“She shows her insecurities and vulnerabilities while also being fun, bright and bold, and a little bit sassy at times.
“I just love every element of what Emily stands for.
“To play a character who gets to dive into the unknown with such a sense of adventure and fun is something really special.”
The second series of Emily In Paris comes to Netflix on December 22.
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