“The Hollywood Reporter” — I don’t remember exactly the first time I met Mr. de la Renta. But I do remember the first dress I borrowed from him: from spring 2000, it was look 67. I had been asked to do an event for Sex and the City — something for HBO and [then CEO] Mr. Bewkes. I remember seeing this dress in the collection and went through Pat Field, the costume designer on the show, to see if she could help me borrow it. And I remember the first time I was invited to Mr. de la Renta’s office and asked if he might build a dress for me for the 2000 Emmys. It turned out to be a pink dress with a feathered skirt that people had a lot of opinions about — mostly because I tied a big piece of tulle on my arm.
I can’t remember how I had the courage to be friends with him — he was so otherworldly in a way. I don’t know if he ever really watched Sex and the City, but I’m certain he was aware of the show because he made a dress for a scene later. Misha’s [Mikhail Baryshnikov] character gave Carrie an Oscar de la Renta dress as a gift; it was a huge deal for Carrie to wear an Oscar de la Renta dress. That was a wonderful confluence of events because Misha and Mr. de la Renta had spent lots of time together in the Dominican Republic and had houses near each other. We all were friends.
I wore countless beautiful dresses of his, dozens of them, fresh off the runway. It was always a momentous occasion in my life when he would build a dress for me — for the Emmys, the Met Ball, for my 40th birthday at the Plaza. When Fashion’s Night Out started happening in 2009, I spent all those nights with Mr. de la Renta in his store on Madison, and it was a real honor. The first year I got there, he said, “Let’s sing!” He loved singing, sang beautifully. He was a muscular singer; it was one of the things he most enjoyed. He sang with mariachi bands, he delighted in any opportunity to create a festive environment. We did show tunes one year, mariachi another year — he even serenaded me. On every Fashion’s Night Out, I had to be at Mr. de la Renta’s store when he was there — it was planned around his arrival and his exit.
With the amazing Met Ball gown this year, I was involved in every step. Initially, when Anna Wintour asked if I might co-chair the evening — which would honor the work of the late couturier Charles James — with Anna and Mr. de la Renta also as co-chairs, I immediately thought that I wanted to ask him to make me a dress. I always have a little hesitation about asking somebody that. It’s a huge amount of effort, time, talent and money, so I put off asking for a while. But I was sitting with Anna one day and she said, “Ask Oscar, of course ask him!” So I rang him that day and said, “Would you consider building something for me for the Met Ball?”
I had been thinking of ideas and researching all of Charles James. I pulled a huge amount of James images and put pieces together from different dresses. Then I met with Mr. de la Renta’s design team; I worked first with Rafael, his incredible tailor, whom I’ve known for years. They presented ideas to him, he rang me, we talked more, then I came to the office and we started draping. I told the team about colors I wanted to work with and said, “What I would really love to do is have his well-known signature in embroidery on the back of the dress in scarlet.” They love him so much there, they got really, really excited about that. I was nervous to ask him — I expected that he might be modest and say no, no, no. But he thought about it and said yes the next day.
We had three different sizes of the signature made; I picked the color I thought was right, and he and I agreed on the size. I promised him, if the concept was misunderstood, I wanted everyone to know this was my choice. It was something he never would have done — with his modesty, grace and elegance. But I knew the crimson signature would look magnificent on the red carpet. Then Mr. de la Renta added the black lattice work up the back of the gown — an homage to Charles James — and I said, “Oh my God, of course!” It was so Oscar de la Renta!
It was really, really fun and thrilling to wear that gown that night. The point of the signature, and doing it in scarlet instead of his traditional navy, was to honor him — to scream it from the rooftop without opening my mouth. This is a man who spent the last 50 years building dresses. He’s singular. And that night I wanted to say thank you and pay tribute to him and convey my gratitude for his work and for the personal relationship he allowed me to have with him.
When someone passes who’s led a wonderfully long life, you hear the news and immediately think of his beloved wife and friends and, in this case, all those who work in his studio. The reality of his absence means a momentous shift. There are wonderfully talented designers, emerging and upperclassmen, but he really was singular, and he has left a vacuum. Others will come along and will eventually make ball gowns with pockets in them — with stripes and polka dots, garden party gowns. But nobody is meant to fill the void. They can’t. All I can think today is, “That’s it. That’s done, that extraordinary moment in time that he created.” When I think about the last 10 or 15 years and the way he figured out how to marry his rock-hard foundation of the world of socialites and Nancy Reagans with a different generation — it’s wildly impressive.
The great news is, we all got so much out of knowing him. Thank goodness for all the time we did have. It’s nice not to have regret — “I wish I’d met him!” He gave so much, and I think everybody who had the chance to be on the receiving end appreciated him.
It also needs to be said that there was no one more handsome.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
“The Hollywood Reporter” — Principal photography starts Tuesday for the Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy All Roads Lead to Rome. Other cast members include Claudia Cardinale (8½, Once Upon a Time in the West), Rosie Day (The Seasoning House) and Roman actor Raoul Bova (The Tourist, Under the Tuscan Sun). Sweden’s Ella Lemhagen (The Crown Jewels) will direct.
Parker plays an uptight mother, Maggie, who goes on a road trip across Italy with a former lover, Luca, played by Bova, to track down her rebellious teenage daughter, played by Day. Meanwhile, Luca’s mother, played by Cardinale, is on her own secret love mission. The screenplay was written by Cindy Myers, Josh Appignanesi and Lemhagen. Filming will take place in Rome and around Italy for six weeks.
AMBI Pictures and Paradox studios are financing the film. Ambi’s Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi will produce with Paradox’s Silvio Muraglia. AMBI Distribution will present the project to international buyers at the upcoming AFM market.
AMBI’s recent slate includes Barry Levinson’s The Humbling, starring Al Pacino, and Andron: The Black Labyrinth, starring Alec Baldwin and Danny Glover. Paradox’s credits include Reclaim, starring John Cusack and Ryan Phillippe, and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck.
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.
Sarah Jessica Parker will play the lead in romantic comedy All Roads Lead To Rome, with principal photography to start this month on location in Italy. AMBI Pictures principals Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi and Paradox Studios’ Mikael Wiren are financing. Parker stars as Maggie, an uptight American on a road trip throughout Italy with her Italian former lover Luca as they seek out Maggie’s rebellious teenage daughter. Swedish helmer Ella Lemhagen (The Crown Jewels) is directing from a screenplay she co-wrote with Cindy Meyers and Josh Appignanesi.
Iervolino and Bacardi are producing with Silvio Muraglia of Paradox. Wiren is executive producing. AMBI Distribution will handle international sales.
AMBI was launched in 2013 as a consortium of vertically integrated film development, production, finance and distribution companies owned and operated by Iervolino and Bacardi. They recently co-produced Barry Levinson’s The Humbling starring Al Pacino.
Paradox specializes in independent film financing and international co-productions. Its most recent project Reclaim, starring John Cusack, Jacki Weaver, and Ryan Phillippe, was released on September 19 by Lionsgate. Other credits include Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and the Samuel L Jackson and Dominic Cooper thriller Reasonable Doubt.
Sex And The City star Parker is repped by CAA; her most recent features include Garry Marshall’s New Year’s Eve and The Weinstein Co’s I Don’t Know How She Does It.
Sarah Jessica Parker shows off her fashion sense while attending the 2014 New York City Ballet Fall Gala held at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on Tuesday (September 23) in New York City. This is the third consecutive year that Sarah is serving as a chairman for the gala. You can check out 88 medium and high quality photos in our photo gallery. Enjoy!
FYI: Sarah Jessica is wearing a Mary Katrantzou dress, SJP Collection shoes, Chanel bag, and Fred Leighton jewels.
Public Appearances > 2014 > Sep 23: New York City Ballet 2014 Fall Gala
On the cusp of awards season, The Hollywood Reporter published its first designer A-list issue featuring the top 25 red-carpet designers, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Hudson gracing its double covers.
Photographed 3,500 miles apart from one another, the Parker and Prabal Gurung and Hudson and Giorgio Armani pairings colorfully aligned in hues of red and green to showcase the celebrated designers with the acclaimed actresses.
Chosen for their innovation and ever-growing influence of style on Hollywood, both Armani, the Italian master of couture elegance, and Gurung, the Singapore-born frontman of fashion’s global new guard, prove that a fashion designer can rise to success by partnering with a stylish star.
Less than 24 hours after the Emmy Awards, THR style editor Carol McColgin — who styled Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy winner Anna Gunn the night before — arrived on set in Montauk, New York, straight from a Los Angeles red-eye flight.
“We wanted to show [Parker and Gurung] looking fashionable but also the friendship they have with each other,” says photo editor-at-large Jenny Sargent. Photographed by Miller Mobley at The Surf Lodge in the Hamptons, the creative team sought to capture a fun and fashionable moment. Sargent adds: “[The cover is] a nice moment between them and it gives you a feeling of intimacy and fun, kind of like you could be there with them but also like they’re having a private moment.”
The waterfront location and utilized spaces at the lodge also helped determine which shots would be chosen for print; a balance of fashion and friendship exuding from the photos was the creative goal.
Gurung, who says styling Michelle Obama for the 2010 White House Correspondents’ Dinner “was a dream come true,” is both friend and stylist to Parker. “My muse, aside from being a beautifully elegant and refined woman, is also astute, assertive and substantive. … She is as alluring in what she conceals as in what she reveals. I can’t think of someone that this applies to more than Sarah Jessica,” says Gurung.
Forty-five years Gurung’s senior, veteran designer Armani speaks positively about styling Hudson. “Kate has a great radiance about her,” he says. “Her beauty is natural, effortless and striking. Her fashion sense is classy, but she’s always ready to be a bit of a daredevil. I embrace that spirit.”
The pair were photographed at the Theatre National de Chaillot in Paris by Jonathan de Villiers.
While styling, hair and makeup are keys to a successful photo shoot, Sargent says a memorable photo also has something more: “If the talent feels good, the photos are going to look good.”
To find out who made the list of red-carpet designers, check out the Sept. 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Sarah Jessica Parker keeps it classy chic while attending the 2014 Art Of The Pixel Gala held at Gotham Hall on Wednesday (September 17) in New York City. You can check out 11 medium quality photos of Sarah Jessica at the event. Enjoy!
FYI: Sarah Jessica is wearing a Tracy Reese dress, SJP Collection shoes, Chanel bag, Saint Laurent jacket, and Fred Leighton jewels.
ublic Appearances > 2014 > Sep 17: 2014 Art Of The Pixel Gala
Sarah Jessica Parker was a beauty in blue while attending the Lexus Design Disrupted event held during New York Fashion Week on Thursday (September 5) at Pier 36 in New York City. You can check out 26 medium and high quality photos of Sarah Jessica at the event. She looks gorgeous, doesn’t she? Fashion details are below. Enjoy!
FYI: SJP is wearing a Preen dress, SJP Collection shoes, a Chanel backpack, Fred Leighton earrings, and Solange Azagury-Partridge rings.
Public Appearances > 2014 > Sep 05: Mercedes Benz Fashion Week – Lexus Design Disrupted: Gareth Pugh