This week Sotheby’s sold a brooch made by “Sex And The City” actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Taiwanese designer Cindy Chao.
“Ballerina Butterfly” fetched $1.2 million – more than $300,000 higher than initial estimates – at the Sotheby’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Sale. The brooch sale, whose proceeds benefitted the New York City Ballet, was the result of three years of friendship between them, and two years’ work on Chao’s part.
Chao painted the design on black paper, then modeled the butterfly in wax. The jewel was handcrafted in titanium and gold from the model by artisans in Geneva. Parker had given her the idea of the butterfly after a trip backstage at the Opera Garnier ballet in Paris. The rehearsal room there had butterflies carved on the pillars, which act as reminders that each ballerina should be so light.
The two friends met me at Sotheby’s a few days before the sale.
Elliott: The pin is actually quite a bit bigger than I had expected, from seeing the photos.
Sarah Jessica Parker: You need to hold it. Because I would imagine you think it’s kind of heavy. But it kind of weighs two of these, maybe? [she takes a silver thimble ring and puts in my hand]. It weighs like, nothing. As loaded and complex and detailed the brooch is – it has 4,700 diamonds – it’s nothing.
But you have to turn it over and see the back, because the back you have to see [to understand] the story as much as you have to see the front. It’s like that great light reversible raincoat you had as a little girl.
Elliott: And the lightness is important because when you wear it, you don’t want it to pull your collar down.
Parker: Yeah, yeah. It’s like, it sits, really.
Elliott: So tell me the process between the two of you for designing this.
Parker: Well she can tell you the process for designing this, because you know the butterfly exists in her whole oeuvre. And her first one is in the Smithsonian.
Chao: Well yes, but I also knew how much it meant to [Parker], so I just kept it in my mind. One day I went to the ballet, I went back stage, and they told me that in 19th century the ladies tried to be butterflies.
Parker: Isn’t that crazy? That’s just so amazing, that the butterfly which is so significant to me would fit so well into this idea. It’s lovely.
Elliott: Why are so many people compelled by ballet, by the idea of lightness and beauty born out through dance?
Parker: Well, it’s true transport. It’s that thing of being transported outside the reality of life. I mean wish more people loved ballet. I spend a lot of time trying to cultivate that audience. But I think when they do experience it, like Cindy said to me last night, she said now I know why you love ballet so much. She had watched the New York company perform.
It just transports me, that people can tell stories without saying a word.
Also that we can all recognize a story in our own way. And it’s like runway shows – something from Carolina Herrera is going to be a completely different story than, say, what we see at McQueen, right? I have my story and you have yours. And they do it with their bodies in the most extraordinary ways. It’s just incredible.
Elliott: Without a word.
Chao: Last night was a beautiful evening.
Parker: I think a lot of people there for the first time last night were really gob-smacked.
Elliott: Cindy, how has working with Sarah influenced your own artistry?
Chao: She is so creative. In my own sense, I had to become her.
Parker: I contributed very little. In sincerity. I’d be like, ‘oh I love those pearls!’ and she’s like aha! But really the collaboration is primarily her.
Chao: Well, I would not have done this with any other.
Parker: It has been a thrill. And a whole new world opened up for me.
When Sarah Jessica Parker launched her shoe collection at Nordstrom in downtown Seattle, she looked every bit the part of a fashion icon.
But that doesn’t mean she spent a fortune on her outfit.
“It’s an old Anne Klein jumper, from a thrift store,” she said. “I always liked thrift stores. Some of it was out of necessity because I didn’t have a lot of money, I couldn’t have bought new clothing at a nice store.”
Now that she can, Parker still believes in mixing high-end with resale.
A trait she shares with her most popular character, “Carrie” on Sex and the City.
When the show started, the budget was small and the wardrobe designer consigned a lot of pieces.
“Maybe because of that connection, the necessity of thrift with Carrie’s sort of reckless indulgence in luxury and high price clothing, kind of helped us tell the story,” Parker said.
Thrifting helped Parker tell her own story, too.
“There was a place in New York City called Alice Underground,” she said. “It was a thrift store on the Upper West Side, and they just had these big trunks, and there were hundreds and hundreds of dresses, thrown in, balled up and wrinkled in various states of neglect. But I knew from the beginning that nobody else would have that dress.”
To this day, she believes clothing is a means to personal expression.
“In the younger part of your life, you spend a lot of years just trying to fit in, just trying to fit in, just trying to be like everyone else. And then this shift happens for most people, and then they spend the rest of their lives saying I’m actually different, I’m actually myself,” Parker said. “It illustrates or expresses or conveys that you’re your own person. And sometimes, you can’t use words, or you don’t have the confidence to say that. Sometimes what you wear helps tell somebody something.”
A third “Sex and the City” movie has never been seriously discussed, Sarah Jessica Parker, star of the television series and movies, said Thursday night in New York.
“It’s not that I’m inhospitable (to the idea). We just haven’t felt it’s the right time to talk about it,” said the actress, who played the role of newspaper columnist Carrie Bradshaw on the HBO series for six years. The series, which won seven Emmy Awards, continues to air in syndication.
When a “Sex and the City” movie was proposed, Parker said she and Michael Patrick King, who directed both films, had talked about the story as acts in a play. “There is a third story, but whether or not we tell it has never been discussed.”
“In my head, it’s a small movie,” she added.
The first “Sex and the City” film became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of 2008, and the second, though it earned less than the first, held the same title for 2010.
Parker, 49, was interviewed by Jonathan Tisch, chairman of Loews Hotels, at the 92nd Street Y. The discussion was distributed on the Internet through Livestream. In addition to her work on Broadway, TV and movies, they discussed her fashion business and her philanthropic work.
Parker, the fourth of her mother’s eight children from two marriages, started performing when she was a child. Her first TV work was in 1974 on an NBC “Young People’s Special” called “The Little Match Girl,” which was shot in Cincinnati, where her family had moved when she was about 5.
While making that show, she missed five days of school and earned $500—and also managed to take home $20 in spending money, the result of spending only $1 of the amount she was allotted for lunch. That money “was a really, really big deal,” she said, adding that she also enjoyed acting. “I loved the experience of being someone else.”
Two years later, she and her brother Timothy were cast in a Broadway revival of a play, “The Innocents,” directed by Harold Pinter.
The family moved to New York in 1977, and Parker appeared in the Broadway musical “Annie,” eventually taking on the title role.
She was appearing on Broadway in “Once Upon a Mattress”–and planning her wedding to actor Matthew Broderick—when she agreed to make the pilot for “Sex and the City” despite her concerns about nudity and language in the script.
Both Broderick and her older brother Pippin thought the pilot script was “wonderful, different from anything they had read,” she said.
After she made the pilot, she forgot about it until she ran into a friend who complimented her on the show. She resisted HBO’s offer to do the show, raising many objections, but eventually agreed to shoot two episodes.
From that first day, “I didn’t regret one moment spent” on it, she said.
Asked what she learned from the “Sex and the City” experience, Parker said she learned about friendship. The show’s plotlines often dealt with her character’s close ties with three other women living in New York.
“It changed the way I looked at my friendships. That’s the emotional reward that I reaped from it,” in addition to the professional rewards and the chance to become a producer.
Parker started in the fashion business by creating fragrances, noting that since she was a girl, she had kept a list of possible names for perfumes. She also was involved in the creation of a lower-priced sportswear line called Bitten in a partnership with the Steve & Barry’s clothing chain.
“Unfortunately, they expanded too quickly” after initial success, she said.
Her latest business is a line of shoes for Nordstrom created with George Malkemus, president of Manolo Blahnik USA. Their first products were launched in February, and they have added bags and overcoats and expanded the number of stores where the line is sold.
“I would like it to grow in a smart and prudent way,” she said. “I’ve seen lots of emerging designers grow too quickly and it kills them.”
Asked about her use of social media, Parker said she had resisted using Twitter and other online forums until six or seven months ago, when she sent her first tweet about a documentary series she is producing about the New York City Ballet. She also is a member of that organization’s board of directors.
She said she has an easier relationship with Instagram, which allows users to share photos or videos with their followers, than with Twitter because of the former’s lower potential for vitriol.
Parker, who lives in Manhattan with her husband, son and twin daughters, said she sometimes is nostalgic for the New York of the 1970s despite the financial crisis and crime that the city was experiencing then. “The city used to offer more possibilities. People could come here with a dream and live in Manhattan.”
Today, high rents are making even some of the outer boroughs prohibitive for young artists, she said. “I don’t know how that can be corrected.”
Hey everybody! I just wanted to give everybody a reminder that Sarah Jessica Parker is taking part in a livestream interview with Jonathan Tisch at 92Y On Demand. You can read an overview of the event below and can view the livestream tonight 7:30 PM EST — 9:00 PM EST on 92Y On Demand’s website.
She transformed the way we talk about sex, think about friendship and feel about shoes. Jonathan Tisch joins the award-winning actress, producer and style icon for an in-depth discussion about her life and work—from her simple beginnings growing up in Ohio, to her Broadway childhood, her career as an award-winning actress, her business savvy and her newly launched line of shoes, handbags and trench coats.
Sarah Jessica Parker stopped by “Late Night with Seth Meyers” last night (May 7), alongside Anna Wintour. The fashion icons talked the prestigious Met Gala, which famous men had trouble with this year’s white tie dress code, and more. You can check out the 10-minute interview below. HD screen captures will be uploaded soon. Enjoy!
When Sarah Jessica Parker says she plans to help inject a modern, fresh feeling into the New York City Ballet by marrying the worlds of fashion and ballet, it’s a wild idea that immediately makes sense. Not just because the ballet is full of spectacle and theater, but because, face it: This is Sarah Jessica Parker, fashion icon and accomplished actress.
“I wanted to think about that next generation, how we were going to reach out to new audience members,” says Parker, who started working with the ballet in 1995, when she chaired the annual Dance With the Dancers event.
Trained in ballet herself, Parker has had a lifelong admiration for dance. But anyone familiar with her public persona knows that she’s also well-versed with the fashion world — which moved its Fashion Week tents into the NYBC’s Lincoln Center back yard in 2010, right around the time when Parker joined the ballet’s board of directors.
Additionally, last November, Parker conceived and produced a documentary for AOL on Originals, “City.ballet,” a 10-part Web series that goes where cameras have never before been allowed — behind the scenes at the NYCB. “It’s about understanding a dancer’s life, and helping people who thought it was this rarefied art form understand that it’s athletic, coupled with extraordinary artistry,” she says.
Parker also gives her time to other charities, but it’s the NYCB that has captured much of her heart and attention. “Any time you can integrate arts into someone’s lives, they feel better for it,” she says. “It’s important to us as people, as Americans, to allow ourselves to appreciate the art form. We know that to be true.”