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Emily in Paris: Fashion as a Symbol of Culture

Article by Sofia Goldstein

Have you watched Emily in Paris on Netflix yet? It tells the story of a young American woman who moves to Paris for a sudden job opportunity.

Sex and the City’s American designer Patricia Field and French costume designer Marylin Fitoussi drew clothing from an array of contemporary designers to put together daring looks sure to catch your eye onscreen. The designers combined their fashion knowledge from their cultures, which led to the fashion culture throughout the storyline.

The show utilizes fashion as a tool to illustrate the distinction between the American and French cultures. American protagonist, Emily Cooper (Lily Collins), consistently dresses in loud fashion, bearing a sharp contrast to the elegant outfits of her boss, Sylvie Grateau (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu). The contrast between flashy and sophisticated fabrics displays the differences between the characters, whose struggles are as frequent in the show as a character saying the word “merde.” The conflict between the two characters represents the show’s portrait of the clash of American and French cultures.


Emily's Looks

The Pink Outfit

No, those are not pink boots. They’re pink heels paired with perfectly-matching high socks. Joined by a black-and-pink patterned sweater and a long coat and skirt in varying shades of fuchsia, this outfit is easily one of the show’s most memorable due to its combination of bold pieces.

The Checkered Coat

The loud print and color contrast of the checkered coat combined with the red beret? A bold statement.

The Color Combination

The printed dress is daring on its own, and the houndstooth beret adds to the look. As usual, Emily brings a pop of color with her pink jacket.


Sylvie's Style

Sweet Sophistication

The metallic coat, deep blue top, and statement belt depict Sylvie’s sophisticated style.

Compare and Contrast

The contrast between the two characters is clear here, with Emily’s glittery dark dress with a straight neckline and Sylvie’s dress with its rich color and bold neckline.


Emily’s style evolves as she becomes more and more entwined in French culture, whether it’s through becoming friends with her coworkers or finding herself in romantic situations. As the episodes progress, Emily begins to mirror the sophisticated fashion of Sylvie, but with her own twist. This symbolizes Americans adopting the French culture when in France.

Twice in the show, Emily describes the feeling of wearing a certain brand of high-end perfume as “like wearing poetry.” The phrase fits the show’s fashion as well — the characters wear each outfit like poetry, letting the clothes tell their own stories and make the show all the more memorable.

The show emphasizes the idea that fashion is an artistically beautiful experience that can have multiple meanings. From this, viewers understand that fashion may serve as a symbol to represent a larger idea about the society around them.


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