Sarah Jessica Parker spent years strutting down the streets of New York City in the (literal) shoes of her alter ego Carrie Bradshaw on the cult-favorite HBO TV series Sex and the City. In addition to sharing her character’s penchant for jaw-dropping designer kicks, Parker, like Bradshaw, has a special place in her heart for Manolo Blahniks. Fittingly, when she embarked on designing her own collection, she called upon the brand’s CEO George Malkemus.
The result? SJP, a colorful collection of statement-making shoes, handbags, and trenchcoats that embrace the unique, fearless sense of style that has made Parker a fashion icon on and off the screen. The Nordstrom-exclusive line hit stores last Friday (February 28) and Parker will be at The Grove’s Nordstrom tomorrow (189 The Grove Dr., Fairfax, 323-930-2230; March 6, 5-6 p.m.) to meet fellow shoe-lovers and sign their purchases. Below, Parker shares on her collection and what inspired it, her number one fashion rule, and how many shoes she really owns.
What was your vision for the collection?
SARAH JESSICA PARKER: Well, once I had the nerve to call George Malkemus and ask if he would consider being a partner with me, we got together the next morning and I came to discover fortuitously that we had both arrived in New York City around the same time, which was the late ‘70s. I was a young girl, but I was completely and immediately captivated by images that I would see looking in the windows on 59th Street, 57th Street, and lower Madison. Some of the great shoe designers of all time were very present in New York—Maud Frizon, Charles Jourdan, and countless others—and it was that beautiful single sole [with] lots of color. I really wanted to revisit the single sole and start thinking about color as a neutral.
Did Carrie Bradshaw and Sex and the City serve as inspirations as well?
SJP: Her affection [for shoes] was inspiring in a lot of ways. But these aren’t all Carrie Bradshaw shoes and they can’t be because that isn’t really cross-generational enough for a collection. I really wanted this collection to be for a lot of different kinds of women—all shapes, sizes, and ages.
What elements of your personal style did you incorporate into the designs?
SJP: I like a lot of color and I’m less inclined to wear a black shoe to a business meeting. The idea of what’s appropriate has not been something that I’ve always applied to my choices, and I wanted women to have that same opportunity to wear the purple Carrie shoe, for instance, to work, to a parent-teacher conference, to meet with her friends, or for a special occasion. It can be every bit as appropriate as black, dusty rose, or asparagus.
What inspired the names of the shoes?
SJP: In some cases they were people I admired. In many cases they were just names that I’ve always loved, and in some cases they were named after women and friends who have been inspiring to me or I admire their taste. There’s a shoe called Pola after the great onscreen actress Pola Negri. There’s a shoe named after my dear friend Iva Rifkin. Obviously, there’s the Carrie. There’s an Etta named after Audrey Hepburn—it’s rumored that that was her real name.
Why did you decide to create handbags and trenchcoats as well?
SJP: I think that’s all part of that outer package. When you step out the door, the shoes and a bag are the first impression you’re sharing with somebody about how you’re feeling that day, or the story you want to tell, or an image you want to project, and it seemed a doable and an edited way of introducing that idea into the collection.
What’s your fashion mantra?
SJP: In some ways it’s just practical choices—you know, taking the kids to school in the middle of winter requires you to be warm. But really, it’s [about] who am I. I’m less interested in trying to look like somebody else. I want to feel like myself. I don’t have a mantra, but I would say I really try to tell my own story.
Lastly, we’re dying to know. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
SJP: This is always disappointing for people—I’m not a big shopper at all. I have a very small and disappointing closet, so I don’t have a lot of shoes. I’ve never counted them, which I know sounds ridiculous. But, I also love having things that I can wear years from now. I have many shoes that are two decades old that I love and are relevant, and I think that’s the way I tend to shop now. That was important for this collection, too, that women could reach for that shoe that we produced in five years and still feel like it fits into their life.