Growing up in Sterling Heights, a suburb of Detriot, Paolo Nieddu only had a vague idea of working in fashion. After majoring in fashion design at Chicago’s IADT, where he realized that he hates to sew, Paolo moved to New York. One internship at Interview and countless brunch shifts at HK later, Paolo got a call from Pat Field, whom he knew from working shifts at her West Broadway boutique — would Paolo be available to work directly under Pat on the Sex and the City movie? Since that phone call less than three years ago, Paolo’s worked as Pat’s right-hand man on both SATC movies, Ugly Betty, and Confessions of a Shopaholic, not to mention some personal styling here and there for the likes of Kim Cattrall. We sat down with Paolo to discuss styling, the Motor City, and — what else? — SATC.
What’s the first designer item you bought?
When I was a kid, I bought a black-to-brown reversible Gucci belt I was so proud of. But when I finished interning, I bought a big, gray, Bottega Veneta tote. I charged it with no money! I felt like I just really needed an “adult” bag.
Where do you like to shop in New York?
Barneys and Odin. I also do the occasional Bergdorf and Jeffrey.
How would you describe your style?
I’m essentially a luxury basics kind of guy — cardigan, jeans, sneakers, but more polished and without being conservative.
Do you have a fashion icon?
For women, Dietrich. Actually, I think she kind of covers both men and women.
What trends are you appreciating right now?
I feel like men’s doesn’t really have trends in the high-end market. When I think of “trendy men’s” I just think of that cheap stuff.
What trends are you ready to see retired?
That Balmain shit.
What’s one item you’re saving up to buy?
The perfect leather jacket.
How do you think being from Detroit has affected your personal style/aesthetic?
I feel like it’s made me aspirational. It’s made me want more.
How would you describe style, including your own, in Detroit?
At night, it’s like quasi–Jersey Shore. That look is still there. But when I lived there, I was very preppy. I wore Gap in grade school and Banana Republic in high school. I used to match my socks to my turtleneck! I was voted Best Dressed.
When did you know you wanted to work in fashion?
Probably around 12 years old, I started thinking about it, but not really with any conscious ideas of a career path. I just knew I wasn’t going to fit in at Ford Motor.
Who would you love to style most?
I would love to make Lady Gaga under.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about being a stylist?
That you just play around with pretty dresses and go out to lunch.
What’s your advice to someone who wants to be a stylist?
Be prepared to get dirty — packing, schlepping, shipping, carrying tons of bags that are ripping and slipping around. But mostly, be ready to schlep.
Do you have a favorite outfit from either SATC movie?
I can’t talk about the second one yet, so: that red-and-white floral dress Carrie wore to the jewelry auction. It just had that golden age of cinema feel. I pulled that with Pat from a vintage dealer. It was from the fifties without any kind of label, and Pat had to have the tailor re-stuff the peplum, pencil the skirt, and drop the neckline. SJP got to keep it.