Carrie Bradshaw’s laptop sits open on the desk facing the window with a 2000 edition Zagat guide to NYC restaurants to its side. Next to the bed is an ashtray with two lipstick stained Marlboro Lights butts. A black rotary phone sits atop a pile of thick beauty magazines. A pile of outgoing mail, including a Vogue- subscription renewal, are stacked on a table. The remnants of takeout are in the trash below. Chanel boxes are piled, Jenga-style, in the closet.
The attention to detail is strong at the And Just Like That… It’s Been 25 Years, A Sex and the City Experience — a free popup for franchise fans in New York City, courtesy of Max, in honor of the original series’s milestone (the show debuted June 6, 1998) and the premiere of AJLT’s second season this month (on June 22). And despite the smoke-apocalypse that’s left the Northeast with “very unhealthy” air quality, I very willing jumped in line for the press viewing of the experience on Thursday — and, I’ll admit it, for a cosmo too.
The venue was packed with stylish visitors making bold fashion statements in tutus and sequins with designer bags and shoes so much more fabulous than mine. One woman confided that she secured her ticket last-minute and drove eight hours straight from Ohio to get here, telling her husband she’d BBS. Oh, and did I mention Sarah Jessica Parker herself stopped by while I was there poking around? Oh, yes — that too.
“I’m inclined to give away nothing” by way of AJLT Season 2 spoilers, Parker teased to the crowd while she sat for a Q&A hosted by Vogue. “I mean — I think what you’ve seen is as much as I’m willing to say.” By now you probably know that Kim Cattrall will be making a cameo as Samantha (!) and John Corbett will be back as Aidan.
The experience has a huge focus on fashion — which SJP was keen to discuss, alongside AJLT costume designers Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago, who curated the pieces on display — but starts with visitors reconnecting with the famed characters once they walk in the door.
You choose which of the four women you relate most to — Carrie, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) or, yes, Samantha. Each board features a collage of photos of the character alongside signature quotes. On the back, video screens play montages of memorable on-screen moments.
Then, you step into Carrie’s NYC nabe. For the experience, they built a life-size replica of Carrie’s famous brownstone. Guests able to climb the stairs and pose on the stoop (bring your shopping bags).
Next is an authentic retro newsstand filled with all publications about the show — which spawned two movies (in 2008 and 2010) — and its stars. (FWIW, they didn’t include any magazine covers about co-star drama.)
You pass a giant wall collage of memorable photos from the show around a message to fans, which reads: “And Just Like That... it’s been 25 fabulous years. This exhibition is an homage to our beloved audience with whom we’ve shared so many moments in time. For over two decades you’ve brought these stories and characters into your world, and now we hope this is a chance to bring you into ours. X.”
Next, you enter the recreation of Carrie’s iconic apartment. Another interactive feature is getting to sit at the sex columnist’s desk — and type on her laptop, if included (“Are we willing to believe a newspaper columnist could afford all those Manolos?” — while a photographer snaps your photo through the window.
All the shelves are filled with Carrie props — a framed photo of the Eiffel Tower, a book by Gloria Steinem, and open roll of mint Mentos. While you could pick up her rotary phone — “Big, is that you?” — the crew working had eagle eyes on everything, keeping people off the bed and fixing lamp shades that were getting accidentally elbowed.
Next, six people at a time enter Carrie’s dark closet, which is loaded with Chanel boxes and garment bags. From there, you enter an interactive dreamscape. With decorative flowers overhead (flowers were a theme throughout, even in the bathroom), large screens showcase Carrie’s fashion first created by SATC costumer designer Patricia Field, for the show’s run from 1998 to 2004 and the two movies, and then later for AJLT, which premiered in 2021, under Rogers and Santiago.
When you exit, you are face to face with some of Carrie’s greatest costumes of all time.
There’s the iconic pink top and white tutu (minus the puddle splash) she wore in the original opening sequence. The bottom was found in a $5 bin at a sample sale in 1998, according to SATC lore.
Other outfits, all behind glass and pristinely cared for, include the “fashion roadkill” outfit from when Carrie bit it walking the runway.
Also there is the pistachio-colored tulle gown she wore for a date with Big, which had previously been used by a European ballet troupe and “rescued from an unknown attic.”
There’s also the Valentino gown Carrie wore for the Paris bridge seen in the first season’s Episode 10 of AJLT.
It’s also accessory overload — in the best possible way. Several of Carrie’s purses, including the pigeon bag from AJLT and a Judith Leiber cupcake clutch, are on display.
There’s also a very incredible shoe wall. And not just Manolos, but a little of everything, showcased in a big way.
In the second part of the experience you can also grab a cosmo, virgin drinks offered as well, and even though it was 9:30 a.m, I just didn’t want to say no.
There’s also an interactive Post-It wall, where you can write messages inspired by the show and put them up on a wall decorated with the NYC skyline. One we saw said, “Hello, lover!”
At the very end of the display is Berger’s infamous breakup message to Carrie, enclosed in a glass case. “I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me,” it reads.
There’s also a shop, under a “Shopping is my cardio” sign, selling special SATC25 merch. There was a steady line when we were there, and shoppers walked away with stuffed bags.
Parker arrived — along with showrunner Michael Patrick King — amid my cosmo-ing and shoe gazing, sitting for a panel discussion hosted by Vogue.com’s Chioma Nnadi.
“I’m seeing this for the first time,” she told the crowd. “It’s really something.”
The series star and executive producer talked about 25 years of fashion, saying that when they started, none of the top designers would loan the show outfits.
“Nobody wanted to let us borrow, buy or steal” anything, she said. “It was really only … later that Manolo [Blahnik] became integrated into the show, but it wasn’t right away and we couldn’t afford” high-end pieces.
Parker said that her contracts stipulate that she gets all her character’s outfits — the pieces that aren’t on loan.
“If it’s not borrowed, if it’s not rented, it just always [comes] to me and to be in my possession,” she explained. “That has been the case in in my career … even [before] Sex and the City.”
She continued, “I don’t need white M&M’s, or white candles, or flowers, or Diet Cokes or anything,” a reference to some celebrity demands in contracts and tour riders. “I just want the costumes. I want the clothes.” She said it’s “to keep [the outfits] together. I want to keep them documented. I want to be able to … bring them back [and] populate [Carrie’s] closet again,” noting they frequently pull past outfits to put in her character’s closet in new episodes as a wink to long-time viewers. “The costume is every bit as important as the word. I keep every script that Michael and his writers have written and I keep every outfit and then we bring it all back.”
Parker and company also spoke about missing the late Willie Garson, the show’s Sanford, who died in 2021. The crowd applauded at the mention of his name. They talked about how he loved the fashion and was adventurous, rocking different glasses, pocket squares, brooches and ties.
“The amount of trays of glasses that would be brought to Willie,” Parker recalled, “it was like an optical store.”
Parker expressed her “gratitude [for] having been part of an experience that is connected with so many people and that people still have such strong feelings about — some good, some not so good sometimes, but that’s alright too,” she said with a laugh. “I think looking back we were just wanting to do good work, and all of it felt exciting, it felt fresh, it felt wonderfully unfamiliar [when the series began]. And … we would never have known that 25 years later we would be trying to recall those early feelings.”
She added, “It’s been, I think most of all, just an enormous privilege.”
And just like that… it was time for her to go explore — and for me to make my exit. But not without the parting gift of a “Carrie Cupcake” from Magnolia Bakery, which the show helped make famous after Carrie and Miranda shared a bite there in Season 3.
The signature treat consists of a vanilla cupcake with pink vanilla buttercream frosting and a daisy, which I grabbed in its cute little to-go box. And as I stepped back out into the city street, I had an extra spring in my step — and the SATC theme music in my head.
That evening, Parker, Nixon and Davis — but not Cattrall — reunited there for a launch party to kick off the experience. They posed next to their “I am…” boards, on the stoop and Parker even sat at Carrie’s desk.
Their co-stars from AJLT — as well as Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell — were also there for the fun.
And Just Like That… It’s Been 25 Years, A Sex and the City Experience runs through June 11.
And Just Like That…’s second season premieres June 22. Find out how to watch the new episodes — as well as the original SATC and the two movies — in our watch guide.