- Emily in Paris -The ‘Emily In Paris’ Company Savoir Isn't Real, But It Does Have A Fascinating Connection To Real Life
Anyone who watched Carrie Bradshaw sashay down the streets of the Upper East Side knows that Sex and the City is about 1) Friendship; 2) New York City; 3) Relationships; 4) Shoes; and, way down the list, 723) Post-Its; and, finally, 724) Work.
It's why it's been refreshing to see creator Darren Star tackle workplace in TV Land's Younger, and, now, Emily in Paris, the producer's latest series on Netflix starring Lily Collins as a social media strategist who travels to Paris to further her career. But can young fans escaping into Emily's bright, sophisticated universe actually follow in her footsteps? How real is Savoir?
In making Emily in Paris, Star hoped to direct his lens towards a new generation, one that he felt was quite different from the foursome that very rarely passed the Bechdel test while brunching with mimosas and tales of their sexual exploits. This was clear even back in 2015, when the producer talked with Indiewire about the generational shifts he explored on Younger.
"Forty is, let’s say, the symbolic age when you’re looking back and saying, 'Okay, I’m not the young person in the room anymore. Things have changed' ... The acknowledgement that there is a different generation with different ways of perceiving the world and engaging the world. And especially this generation that has been weaned on social media, which has become the dominant force in terms of the way we communicate and do business with each other. They have an innate understanding of it."
He clearly was eager to explore that dynamic in Emily in Paris, particularly with the relationship between Emily and her fifty-something boss, played by Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu. While Leroy-Beaulieu's Sylvie embraces the traditional — which, in Star's version of Paris, means the laissez-faire — Collins' Emily perks up at the opportunity to perk up at 8am and close deals by 8 p.m. The two-hour Parisian lunch is merely a vehicle to drive forward in her career further.
White wine at lunch, and hobnobbing with the fashion elite at dinner with the humility of a college student but clothing budget of a Hollywood multi-hyphenate? (The series is styled by Patricia Field, after all.) One should realize fairly quickly that Emily in Paris is fiction escapism at its best, and that goes for its portrayal of the workplace as well.
Rachel Williamson, the co-founder of the digital marketing agency Dive In Digital — which works with clients on social media, SEO, and email marketing — says Emily's role at Savoir was too undefined, and didn't broach the more granular elements of social media. "When you are a small business, or an agency, you can't be spending client dollars just messing around, figuring out cool stuff. It's way less sexy," she tells The Dipp. "The way they acted and talked was much more in line with an ad agency, where you are really talking about creative ... organic social media, where you're posting every day for a brand, is so minute."
That doesn't mean there isn't some truth in the storytelling behind Emily in Paris, particularly when it comes to Emily's drive. "I was such an overachiever, I was hungry, I thought I was so right a lot of the time, so I totally identify with that feeling of, like, you've convinced yourself so much that this is the way you've got to do it, so you feel really empowered to do it," Williamson says. "One of the things I thought was accurate is having some of those stern, unamused people who are higher up in the company ... You totally have to put on a dog and pony show to get people to understand what you're saying."
What's more, interestingly enough, there is a marketing firm in the U.S. called Savoir that specializes in events strategy that is directly tied to the Emily in Paris creator himself: Founder Tamalin Srisook Polo, who produced the first BeautyCon, tells The Dipp her husband has been Star's hairstylist for 15 years.
That said, whether her version of Savoir (which is French for "to know") was the inspiration for Emily in Paris remains unknown. "I started joking with [my husband], 'Have you ever dropped the name to Darren?'" she says. "And he goes, 'He knows you have an agency, I always say Savoir, he has your business card.' And I'm like, '[Gasp] Do you think Darren got the idea from me?' He'll probably ask him now, but I have no idea." (For Polo's part, looking at the trailer, she says, "The feel I get from it, shockingly, is kind of what I envisioned when I came up with the name to use Savoir Agency.")
That said, there still is no actual marketing firm in Paris that is named Savoir. Still, it could also be inspired by the many luxury firms working in the country's capital, like La Netscouade or Lonsdale, which, fittingly, has experience in champagne, much like the series' Savoir. And Manny the Movie Guy, in an interview with Star and Collins, told them both that he saw similarities between Emily's job, and his own experience working in marketing.
And while we might not ever have the opportunity to break creme brulée with one of the world's top designers, we all have at one point bonded with unlikely allies over the ridiculousness of the Gossip Girl finale, right?
So you might not be able to travel to Paris, or wear Chanel, or work at a Savoir based in Paris, or eat the perfect pain au chocolat, but you can appreciate Star's dedication to moving women's drive to succeed much further up the list in 2020. Because, truly, c'est la vie.