Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in <i>Sex and the City</i>
Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City (Photo: courtesy of HBO)

Mild spoilers ahead for Episode 8 of And Just Like That…

And Just Like That has featured a lot of notable cameos so far—from beloved side characters like Susan-Sharon (Molly Price), Bitsy von Muffling (Julie Halston) and Natasha (Bridget Moynahan) as well as from a new generation of stars like Jonathan Groff. The Sex and the City follow-up has also featured a surprising number of clothing and accessories that Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) wore in the original series. A lot of these reappearances are Easter eggs and callbacks to delight fans of the old show. But they’re also a nod to sustainable fashion. It’s just not the thing anymore to buy a dress and only wear it once, and when you have pieces as impressive as Carrie’s why would you want to relegate them to the purgatory of an Upper East Side closet or, worse, a climate-controlled storage unit?

Still, certain frocks have apparently languished, as we recently learned. In this week’s episode, Carrie is in the process of paring down her insane wardrobe, deciding what to “archive” and what to…give to Charlotte’s daughter Lily (Cathy Ang). (Can’t help but notice that this woman doesn’t seem to have considered donating any of this stuff or auctioning it off for charity…) Which gives her an excuse to haul out her “pride and joy.” No, not the inexplicable dirndl from Season 2 (Live every day like you’re Carrie Bradshaw in that f-cking dirndl!), but the Versace “mille feuille” gown from Sex and the City’s final season.

There’s no question the massive dress is one of the most stunning—and impractical—garments Carrie ever wore. It’s also not the kind of thing you can just throw on for any old date night. The truth is that, for better or worse, some dresses really are made to be worn only once. As Carrie herself tells Seema (series MVP Sarita Choudhury), she’s only worn this one twice. “Once in Paris and once here, just for fun,” she says, referring to her apartment. “I sat at that window and ate a whole thing of Jiffy Pop.”

Sarah Jessica Parker wearing the Versace mille feuille dress in <i>And Just Like That</i>
Sarah Jessica Parker wearing the Versace mille feuille dress in And Just Like That (Photo: courtesy of HBO)

So, if I understand what Carrie is saying here, she has never actually worn this particular Versace concoction in public! Can…that really be?

Named for the many-layered dessert, the dress is similar to—if not the same as—one worn by model Natalia Vodianova in a famous 2003 Alice in Wonderland-themed editorial shot for Vogue by Annie Leibovitz and styled by Grace Coddington. Sex and the City costumer Patricia Field reportedly chose the dress to reflect Carrie’s complicated romantic life. When Carrie says that she wore it in Paris, she is, of course, talking about that time in the show’s sixth and final season when she quit her job and scrapped her whole life to move to France with Russian artist Aleksandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov). The epic dress was what she had planned to wear for her first big night out in the City of Lights. Unfortunately, she ended up all dressed up with nowhere to go; The Russian left her waiting in their hotel suite so long that she finally succumbed to jet lag and fell asleep.

The image of Carrie surrounded by waves and folds of silk-tulle and chiffon-organza on her hotel bed was, of course, gorgeous in a melancholy way. But this also marked the beginning of the end of her relationship with The Russian—not to mention a depressing anticlimax for such a show-stopping dress. (Interestingly, the gown’s dusky blue-grey color story was reminiscent of Carrie’s apartment at a moment when she was so far from home.)

Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in <i>Sex and the City</i>
Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City (Photo: courtesy of HBO)

Now, unless there was some subsequent event that Carrie and The Russian attended in Paris off camera, the mille feuille dress—which reportedly cost $80,000—never made it out of that hotel room. After things went south with Petrovsky, I guess we’re to assume that Carrie managed to ship the unwieldy thing back to New York where she apparently never found another excuse to wear it out of the house. Which seems odd, because if no one other than your ex-boyfriend ever saw you wearing a dress that amazing, wouldn’t you jump at the first chance you got to take it out for another spin, preferably where more people could see you in it? I mean, surely Carrie and Big would have attended a few galas in the almost two decades since her Parisian misadventure.

But no. I suppose there was always another, newer dress to be bought and worn. (So much for sustainability.) And so, the mille feuille was relegated to Carrie’s closet, wedged between the many other inmates, granted one, maybe two, brief reprieves so that its cruel mistress could eat popcorn alone at her window. Poor dress. It deserved better.