February 9, 2008 / 12:18 AM / 10 years ago

TV shows vie to be "Sex and the City" fashion heir

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two new U.S. television shows are vying to take over from “Sex and the City” as the most fashionable shows on television.

Actresses (L-R) Bonnie Somerville,Miranda Otto, Frances O'Connor and Lucy Liu, stars of the new series "Cashmere Mafia" take part in a panel discussion at the ABC television network Summer press tour for television critics in Beverly Hills, California July 25, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

For six seasons American women tuned into HBO to see what Sarah Jessica Parker was wearing, from expensive Manolo Blahnik sling-back shoes to high-end designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier. But since the show went off the air in 2004, fashionistas have been left without their weekly inspiration.

Now, ABC’s “Cashmere Mafia,” which began airing a month ago, and NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle,” adapted from a book by Candace Bushnell who authored the “Sex and the City” book, are hoping to take over that mantle.

And at New York’s Fashion Week this week they rubbed shoulders with fashion elite in a bid to raise their profile.

Designers say television exposure can be great for business — as is any celebrity wearing their clothes — but it has to be a series that fits with their brand and has to be a hit.

“It’s something that designers are more and more interested in doing,” Bushnell said after cutting the ribbon last Friday to open New York Fashion Week with “Lipstick Jungle” stars Brooke Shields, Kim Raver and Lindsay Price.

“It’s no secret that the two series are trying to inherit the viewership gold mine that was Bushnell’s ‘Sex and the City,”‘ New York magazine wrote, naming “Cashmere Mafia” the narrow winner in the fashion stakes.

The cast of "Lipstick Jungle" in an image courtesy of NBC. REUTERS/Handout

The two shows have more in common than fashion alone — “Cashmere Mafia is produced by “Sex and the City” creator Darren Star and “Lipstick Jungle” is adapted from another book by Bushnell.

“Sex and the City” chronicled the lives of four single women living in New York City and ended in 2004 but will return as a movie this summer.

The “Lipstick Jungle” stars all graced front rows at New York Fashion Week, along with “Cashmere Mafia’s” Lucy Liu.

Stylist Patricia Fields, who was behind “Sex and the City” and Oscar nominated for costume design for “The Devil Wears Prada,” is now working on “Cashmere Mafia.”

Fields said the ties between fashion and television work both ways. “It’s totally a mixture of designers knocking on our door or us going to see someone and requesting,” she said.

Reviews for the shows have been mixed. The New York Times concluded, “Both series try too hard to imitate the high-gloss ‘Sex and the City’ and miss that show’s saving grace: it mischievously undermined the myth of sex, glamour and happiness in a lighthearted way.”

Actress Shields said designers were not yet clamoring to be part of her show, but added: “They will, once we’re a hit.”

Filipino-born Hollywood designer Monique Lhuillier said some of her creations have already been used in both shows and she is asked regularly to supply clothes for TV.

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“It’s very important to my business because we are a non-advertising company, a smaller company,” she said. “It’s free advertising and makes people aware of the brand.”

Editing by Mark Egan and Todd Eastham

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