Feb 27, 2014

Sarah Jessica Parker on Why the SJP Collection is Heart and Soul Hers

A true New York treasure, Sarah Jessica Parker today hosted a preview of the shoes and accessories in her SJP Collection for Nordstrom at an airy pop-up shop on 372 W. Broadway (next door to Cipriani Downtown) that will be open for three days starting this Friday.

Wearing a pleated, powder pink dress that played to the shop’s ladylike color scheme, Parker milled around refreshingly absent of a publicist and struck up conversations with an ebullient, “Hi there.” One needn’t much more to feel compelled to bring home a piece of the moment—i.e. a pair of her fabulous new shoes.

The Inspiration: Italy by Way of New York, Circa the 1970s
Created with business partner and longtime Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus, the SJP Collection is a love letter to New York, a generation of Sex and the City fans, and a very specific, idealized woman who lived in New York and Italy in the 1970s. In Parker’s words, the muse was “drawn from moments in our past or things we saw in the streets in Italy in 1979, or the crosstown bus in 1981.”

With a razor sharp suit and a Texas drawl, Malkemis recalled how Parker described her muse to him, “Think of the lady in Florence in 1977. She had a jean that was slightly flared and she had on a clog and she carried a bag a certain way,” she had told him. But the collection is not a literal nod to the ’70s, it’s more subtle and timeless, concentrating on the colors and spirit of the era, with references to designers like Charles Jourdan and others whom the duo have a shared admiration for.

How Parker and Malkemis Balanced High Craftsmanship with Reasonable Prices
On Parker and Malkemis’ insistence, the shoes are made in Italy by a third generation Tuscan shoemaker. “We wanted to make these shoes in Italy, we wanted to make them at a certain price point, we wanted the fit to be completely, inarguably perfect, and the comfort to be everything a woman wants and needs and should get for the dollar amount she’s paying,” said Parker.

With prices from $195 to $500, there are classic pumps (about 3 inches to our eye), strappy heels with bows and florets on the toe, espadrilles (made exceptionally in Spain, where all great espadrilles are made), lace-up booties in “luggage” brown, plenty of open-toe mules and sandals for summer, and, of course, there is a “Carrie” shoe, not to mention a pair of black patent Mary Janes. (Remember the Sex and the City episode where Carrie finds the black patent Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes, the ones she thought were “an urban shoe myth”?)

A few handbags—a roomy clutch, a tote, a small handheld—and a “Manhattan” trench coat round out the line. The color palette is bright, but the silhouettes are simple-chic. “It really was about the single sole and color, and color as a neutral. We treat color as if it’s as appropriate for the office as anything else,” says Parker on the line’s mauvy pinks, Easter egg blues, greens, and purples, and Studio 54-worthy metallics.

“This Isn’t a Licensing Deal”
One thing is certain: you can shop the SJP Collection knowing that everything—down to the signature grosgrain ribbon accents that mimic the ribbons Parker wore in her hair as a child—is a derivative of Parker’s personal style and longstanding love of fashion and fashion culture.

“Any work I do—Coty or Sex and the City—anything I produce, I am not someone who steps in and out. I don’t know how to do that, and I feel honor-bound by the opportunity and I don’t want to be told ‘here’s the end product,'” says Parker of her hands-on role. “There isn’t a meeting I miss or a phone call, conference call, or email. I am on every chain. I am in every meeting . . . This isn’t a licensing deal. This is a partnership. We own this business together.”

Malkemis said that in his meetings with Parker, where they’d sit on the floor with bowls of soup, she told him, “George, they cannot be designer shoe prices. I don’t want them to be Manolo Blahnik, Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, or Lanvin. I want them to be something that the woman who’s followed me as Carrie Bradshaw for 10 years on Sex and the City can go into a store [and buy].” And from the start, the two agreed that Nordstrom was the only home for the line.

Business partnership aside, the design union of Parker and Malkemis is one of total friendship and joy. “It’s truly one of the most passionate things I’ve ever done,” says Malkemis. “She is so generous and so thoughtful and so respectful of everyone, and to me that matters a great deal. In the fashion business you meet a lot of people who are not always that way. So to have a person that takes care of each person individually, with the same respect that she would some very famous person, is very refreshing.”

Source – Gotham Magazine

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