Remaking the Naked Dress From ‘Sex and the City’ With a Viral Vintage Dealer

Olivia Haroutounian gets transformed by Elisa Jimenez into Carrie Bradshaw.

9/26/2021 3:27:00 AM

Elisa Jimenez remade Sex and the City’s naked dress with a viral vintage dealer.

Olivia Haroutounian gets transformed by Elisa Jimenez into Carrie Bradshaw.

Sex and the City. Well, in a sense. “I don’t really like the show, but I love the fashion,” she says. Regardless, she has watched it religiously since she was a teenager, even though she was just a baby when it first aired in 1998. Her fashion discoveries aren’t all Manolo Blahnik this and Dior that. Instead, she has unearthed and collected a slew of slept-on but important designers featured in the show, including Hushi Mortezaie, Pierrot, and Maja Hanson Currier. One of the Houston native’s biggest discoveries was Elisa Jimenez, who says she designed Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic naked dress. Yes,

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thenaked dress.The piece has been widely credited to Donna Karan, but there may be more to the story, as Haroutounian discovered after she posted a TikTok explaining the dress’s origins. She noted that Karan designed the dress in her original post, but a commenter told her otherwise and dropped another name to look up. “Nothing came up [about that person], but for some reason, Elisa Jimenez’s name came up, so it took me to her website.” The ad read: “The authentic naked dress. Own the same cut that Sarah Jessica Parker wore as Carrie Bradshaw.”

The story—pieced together by Haroutounian and Jimenez—goes like this: In season one, episode six, the opening shows Carrie being photographed for a bus ad in the naked dress (named by Charlotte York). Later, she decides she will wear it on a date with Mr. Big. She sleeps with him immediately, as one does in the naked dress. The iteration Bradshaw wore to the date was designed by Karan, but in the photoshoot scene—according to Haroutounian and Jimenez—Bradshaw is wearing Jimenez’s dress with a laptop propped on her lap, staring at the camera with those come-hither eyes. Haroutounian is convinced that Jimenez’s dress is in that flash of a scene. But for one reason or another, the show went with Karan’s dress in the date scene.

Photographed by Justin LeverittPhotographed by Justin LeverittTracking down anyone who can remember anything about Jimenez’s dress in that split-second scene has been difficult. Jimenez herself has never watchedSex and the Citybut recognizes her own work, which is typically clingy and has fire-licked seams.

Sex and the Citystylist Patricia Field doesn’t recall Jimenez’s dress. “Honestly, I don’t remember. It was so long ago,” said Field over the phone toVogue.Two of Field’s former assistants don’t precisely remember either, although one of them, Wendy Stefanelli, recalls pulling Jimenez’s body-skimming pieces for the show. (DKNY representatives confirmed the dress was from the label and was lent to Field for the show, adding that they were not aware of the Jimenez version.)

Whether the dress appeared inSATCsells the dresses on her websitefor $995. Haroutounian, who is still in school in Texas, said it was a bit out of her price range but wanted to talk to Jimenez about it anyway. The two hit it off on the phone, and Jimenez said she would make one for Haroutounian cost-free as long as the student walked in a show she was holding in Austin during October. Haroutounian was overjoyed and decided to come to New York for a few days.

When Haroutounian was in town in July, they decided to photograph the fitting in the home of renowned hairstylist Gerald DeCock, who lives at the Chelsea Hotel in an apartment covered in shiny metallic paper—down to the stove. He has been a close friend of Jimenez’s for more than 20 years and has worked on every one of her shows, “except for two,” Jimenez said. While Jimenez worked her magic, Haroutounian marveled at the designer and her process. “She radiates this very positive attitude. It feels really good to be around her,” Haroutounian told me. “I know she has such good intentions, and everything she does she does with a big heart.”

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She’s not the only one who agrees. In an article fromVogue’s March 1999 issue titled “Zen on a Hanger,” which explored designers seeking spirituality, writer Plum Sykes noted that Jimenez’s voicemail included “be thankful, be gracious, be blessed.” At one point, Jimenez describes herself to me as “half-fairy.” I believe it.

Photographed by Justin LeverittPhotographed by Justin LeverittJimenez is an original multihyphenate; her business card describes her as an interdisciplinary artist, healer, intuit, masseuse, fashion designer, performer, writer, and advisor. The daughter of two artists in Mexico—her father was a sculptor, and her mother was in graphic design—Jimenez feels like one of the last characters of New York. Her grandmother taught her to sew as a child, and when Jimenez moved to New York in 1997, she established herself as a well-known artist before segueing into fashion.

In 2001, Jimenez showedalongside designers like Benjamin Cho and Maria Cornejo at the An American View fashion show to rally support for the fashion industry in the wake of 9/11.During the late ’90s and early ’00s, she wore her own designs out to parties, which was the inadvertent start of her business. “I was wearing all these suits, and women were liking them. They were just buying them off my body. If I was at a party or an event, they’d be like, ‘Oh, I love that dress.’ And I’d be like, ‘Oh, I made it.’ So I actually started wearing two dresses.” While they may not have hanger appeal, they look incredibly sexy on the body. In fact, Jimenez was famous for sewing her designs directly onto her clients, which included the coolest babes of noughties NYC: Parker Posey, Courtney Love, and, of course, both Sarah Jessica Parker and Carrie Bradshaw.

Jimenez was established in the New York fashion world when the stylist Patricia Field came calling. She needed one dress in particular forSex and the City.“Stylists started pulling it, and the naked dress is ending up everywhere, and that’s how it ended up on

Sex and the City,” she says. Almost 22 years later, here we are with a barely 22-year-old. In about 15 minutes Jimenez made for Haroutounian a slip that could be worn under the naked dress to make it longer or more modest. “It can be a hat, it can be a bird!” says Jimenez of the slip. At the actual fitting, the process is just as quick, with Jimenez doling out advice like, “If your G-string is going to show, make your G-string go high.” She measures with her hands in lieu of measuring tape and marks the end and beginning of her measurements with her spit. (It is a technique she learned from her grandmother and was widely panned on a season of

Project Runwayin which Jimenez participated.) “There are a lot more gross things in fashion than doing a blessing mark on fabrics,” she says. “But the point is that you want it to evaporate. You could use a pencil, but your body is always the closest thing.”

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Photographed by Justin LeverittPhotographed by Justin LeverittPhotographed by Justin LeverittFinally, the dress is on Haroutounian, leaving nothing to the imagination. Jimenez shimmies the dress so that the seam will trail down the spine. “It’s a very sculptural piece!” she says. “That’s how I know I’m a sculptor.” Jimenez burns the seam with a lighter, for aesthetic and technical purposes. “I burn the ends so that it balls up like a teeny, tiny little ball. I sort of look at those as like stamen off a flower—they feel things,” she says. “But more importantly, it seals the monofilament and it keeps it from being sharp.”

Then Jimenez completes her process by spritzing her own fresh and springy scent with the intention to bring positivity. “I use a lot of aromatherapy,” she says. “All of the clothes have been reiki-ed.” It had taken a total of 30 minutes for Jimenez to transform Haroutounian into a noughties babe reimagined by Botticelli. “I felt really hot in the dress and also really good in my body,” she says. “I’m not someone who is typically very revealing in their clothing, so to wear something so naked feels very liberating.” Then Jimenez points out the only problem. “We forgot to film the process!” Filmed or not, Haroutounian looked, well, absolutely fabulous.

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