Quick, what’s your favorite “Sex and the City” moment involving Carrie Bradshaw and her adored shoe collection?
Was it the time she got mugged, and the mugger specifically demanded her Manolo Blahniks? “Somebody stop him!” she cried out. “He took my strappy sandals!”
Or perhaps the time another pair of Manolos was stolen because, annoyingly, the hostess at a baby shower demanded that everyone take off their shoes.
Or maybe the time Carrie realized she’d spent so much on shoes, she couldn’t afford a down payment on an apartment. “I will literally be the Old Woman Who Lived in Her Shoes,” she moaned.
Well, “Sex and the City” ended in 2004 (the TV show anyway), and Carrie — er, actress Sarah Jessica Parker — has a lot more shoes to live in. Parker has launched her own shoe line, SJP, which also includes handbags, at Nordstrom. (Her business partner is George Malkemus, CEO of Manolo Blahnik, and the shoes are cheaper than Manolos — in the $300 range.)
The 48-year-old actress, who’s had previous forays into the fashion business but not a shoe line, sat down to not only talk about the new project, but also how she became so closely associated with fashion — something younger actresses now aspire to all the time, but wasn’t the norm when she started out. She also explained how she really did have her Manolos stolen. And she commented on the possibility of a third “Sex and the City” movie, hinting at a possible ending to Carrie’s story.
QUESTION: So how did this all get started?
Parker: Well, I was very kindly being offered a lot of opportunities in the shoe category and I kept rejecting them. And I couldn’t figure out why. And more importantly my agents couldn’t figure out why. … And I was sitting with some women friends of mine and they said to me, “What is it?” And I said, “Well, I know it’s not going to be the shoe that I want it to be.” And I said that really my dream partner is George Malkemus. And they said, “Have you asked him?”
Malkemus: And we went back many years, before she was doing Carrie Bradshaw. (Malkemus tells the story of how he and Parker sat on the floor together in the mid-1980s, when Blahnik was doing a trunk show in Los Angeles, and she chose six pairs of shoes she loved.)
Parker (wistfully): And there was a tobacco-colored flat. A suede pointy flat. He had signed it! And then all except one pair were stolen. It was two years later … all my luggage was stolen. You only travel with what you love, so I had my Manolos, I had one Chanel suit and an old Yankees sweatshirt from the ’60s … and all I got back was my dog dish.
Q: Wait, so you actually DID have Manolos stolen?
Parker: Yes, I really did. In real life.
Q: How did you choose which shoe in your new line to call “Carrie”?
Parker: There were other Carries. And it kept not feeling right. But this shoe (a T-strap heeled number in purple) is kind of a contradiction. Because there is something very feminine and ladylike about this shoe, but the purple is a little subversive. The purple is the person that chose not to wear the appropriate thing to work. And I feel that’s what Carrie was.
Q: You have become so associated with fashion. How did that all happen?
Parker: You know, I think that I played a character for a very long time who had an enormous amount of affection for fashion, she had this kind of relationship we’d never seen portrayed or depicted or illustrated on-screen — big or little screen, really. And also fashion was just starting to emerge at that time as a separate sort of character in New York. I think it was a confluence of playing that person, also loving (fashion) myself, and watching luxury and vintage just start to rise.
You know when we first started shooting the show, and we hadn’t been on the air yet, nobody would loan us ANYTHING. We had a very meager budget … we were pulling mostly from consignment, some rental houses, borrowing from friends, or from emerging designers that nobody knew about except for Pat (costume designer Patricia Field).
And the show went on the air, and someone was talking about fashion, and looking at fashion in a way that had never happened before. And the business was just starting to shift. Luxury — we weren’t talking about luxury before. It had not been spoken of outside the industry itself. … And nobody had dressed (like Carrie). Nobody was wearing an old raggedy beat-up fur coat that was 40 bucks with a Fendi baguette (a luxury bag that costs about $1,500). It was just a whole new way of thinking about fashion, and once again, that timing.
Q: So speaking of timing — where do you stand on a third movie?
Parker: There is no conversation about doing a third movie. As Michael (Patrick King, the writer-director) has said, I think recently, he and I both know what the last part of the story is. Just us. None of the other women know. But I trust Michael’s sense of timing. I don’t know that the time will ever be right to tell it. So there are no plans. But I do know, and Michael knows, what that third story would be. And it’s small, but mighty.
Q: Hmm. That sounds like a child.
Parker (not budging): I’m a secret keeper.