“I like my money right where I can see it: hanging in my closet” is a quote every Gen X and Millennial fashion fan knows well. Carrie Bradshaw, portrayed in the HBO series Sex and the City by actress Sarah Jessica Parker, famously said it in the Season 6 premiere in 2003.
Almost 20 years later, that line could have just as easily been uttered by The Politician’s Astrid Sloan (played by Bohemian Rhapsody star Lucy Boynton). A Santa Barbara rich high schooler who traded in her glitzy (from the outside) lifestyle for the freedom of living sans trust fund in New York City, Astrid’s collection of electric blue tights, pearl-embellished collars, and animal print faux fur may scream Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) of Gossip Girl, but she channels the spirit of Carrie — spending what money she has on Louis Vuitton boots, Tibi raincoats, and Marc Jacobs coats. “She’s scouring the downtown vintage stores,” the show’s costume designer Claire Parkinson — who says she frequently watched Sex and the City and “loved Carrie Bradshaw's sensibilities” — says of Astrid. “Although she might not have the money, it was our goal for her to maintain her fashion sensibilities.”
From Season 1 of The Politician to Season 2, a lot has changed. Three years have passed, and the political powerhouses from Saint Sebastian High School have picked up from sunny California and settled East, where Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) is running for Senate in New York. This move makes sense for Astrid. “The one thing that Astrid can control in her life in Season 1 is her clothing, because everything else is out of control,” Parkinson explains. “Then she rebels and goes to New York.”
It's in New York that viewers start to see an evolution for Astrid. While in Season 1 her looks were fashionable, they were somewhat inconsistent, reflecting her sense of being at times uncertain about her life in California. After briefly running away to New York mid-season 1, she finally gets a taste of freedom — freedom away from money, privilege, and the tragedy that often coincides with both. In Season 2, she finds herself and discovers who she wants to be. “It’s in New York that Astrid realises that she doesn’t have to be perfect all the time,” Parkinson says. “But she definitely still cares about how she looks — she loves clothing, she loves fashion.”
This results in a new sense of style, with looks ranging from a Louis Vuitton monogram motorcycle jacket paired with a hot pink & Other Stories turtleneck to a feathered Ganni mini dress styled with LF Jewels heart-shaped earrings. And whether she’s having a threesome with Payton and Alice (Julia Schlaepfer), working behind Payton’s back for the enemy, or realising what she is and isn’t ready for, that absolute sense of self is now apparent. Like Bradshaw, she’s confident, resilient, and, of course, always dressed for the occasion.
The two also share a knack for effortlessly styling their respective looks. In many a Sex and the City episode, Carrie’s seen grabbing a slip dress from her hallway-sized closet, throwing on that fur coat, and slipping into a pair of (likely jewel-toned) Manolo pumps before dashing out the door to hail a cab. Never is she worried about what people might think of her, say, wearing a cropped tube top with a belt tied around her abs, paired with a tutu. On anyone else, a look of that level would be gaudy. On Carrie, "it’s Vogue." Same goes for Astrid. “It's almost like she just has that edge where she can find anything and make it fabulous,” Parkinson says. “Getting ready, she’ll find a random top, throw on her over the knee boots, and be like, Awesome, and walk out the door like, I'm ready to conquer the world.”
But, as a Gen Zer to Carrie’s Gen X, or even Blair’s Gen Y, Astrid doesn’t source inspiration from copies of Vogue. Instead, she’s on Instagram, blowing through saved folders filled with Fashion Week men’s street style, grainy shots of Françoise Hardy — a personal style icon for Boynton — and off-duty pictures of Alexa Chung. “She's on her phone all the time, scrolling through her Instagram and being like, ‘Holy shit, did you see that look that so and so wore to a Paris show? I need to get something like that,’” Parkinson says.
Speaking of Boynton — who’s known to stun on red carpets in Celine, Erdem, Gucci, and Rodarte — she was heavily involved in her character’s wardrobe, especially as it pertained to Astrid’s development in Season 2. “It’s a true collaboration,” Parkinson says. “There's definitely pieces of Lucy — of her personal style — that go into the Astrid world” The very Gossip Girl-like tights? Those were actually inspired by Boynton. “She's from England, so she's always the girl wearing the tights,” Parkinson says.
Where Astrid Sloan and Carrie Bradshaw are different: Astrid has a sense of certainty in herself from a young age; she doesn’t need a partner to get what she wants in life. Like her fellow Gen Zers, Astrid is also committed to saving the planet, fighting for equality for all, and demanding to remove the stigma around abortion. While her style is just as eclectic, effortless, and daring as Carrie’s, it takes on a new significance on a character like Astrid, who is unapologetically confident in her choices.
This much is clear in Astrid’s last scene of Season 2. Sitting alongside Alice at the women’s clinic waiting to get an abortion, Astrid appears in a purple jumper and heart-shaped earrings, her aforementioned Marc Jacobs leopard print faux fur coat resting on her lap. “I don’t want kids,” she says to Alice, who responds, “You don’t know that.” “I do,” Astrid says. “I don’t care anymore if people think that makes me less of a woman, I know it doesn’t.”
“When I walk out of here, it’s going to be on the path that I want,” she says. And there, despite what’s about to happen next, she looks ready to tackle anything, no matter the odds. Even better, she’ll tackle it in straight-off-the-runway Louis Vuitton.