One might think that Sarah Jessica Parker’s love affair with shoes started with her infamous Sex and the City character, Carrie Bradshaw, but not so explains Parker at the Tuesday preview of her new SJP collection with George Malkemus and Nordstrom. “George and I had met long before I played Carrie Bradshaw,” she says. “George came out to Los Angeles to a store called Madeleine Gallay that was on Sunset Plaza, in 1985. I didn’t have two freaking nickels to rub together, but I came to this trunk show, and I ordered six pair of shoes. I must have done it, literally, on a layaway or on an American Express, it’s the same card I have today. George and Manolo [Blahnik] had swatches and styles, and we put together six pairs of shoes.”
That shared enthusiasm is what brought Parker and Malkemus together again on their 30-piece line of single-sole heels, espadrilles, flats, and thongs and handbags and trenches, which hits Nordstrom stores on February 28. Here, VF Daily talks to the twosome.
VF Daily: Why do the shoes all have names?
Sarah Jessica Parker: If you were a lady and a consumer of shoes, you would see that it’s uncommon for a shoe not to have a name. I think it’s nice to connect with the shoe, but I would agonize over every name. There were a lot of shoes to be named, and I took it extremely seriously.
George Malkemus: Carrie was probably the hardest to come up with, because it’s probably the most famous name for many, many, many women for many, many years.
VF Daily: There seems to be a 70s influence.
SJP: I think people are expecting one thing, or those people who didn’t really remember it sort of think of it as the disco era, but really, it was that single sole and those colors. It was the Maud Frizon and the Charles Jourdan, and those wonderfully flat colors, eggplant and aubergine, eggplant and grape, asparagus and teal. The simpler something is, the harder it is to produce it really well, but that’s what we wanted to do. George has this incredible shoemaker in Tuscany, a third-generation shoemaker who was equally excited to revisit this idea, too, because he knew that period so well.
VF Daily: What happened to those six pairs of shoes you designed with George and Manolo?
SJP: They were later stolen, those shoes, a bunch of them were stolen. All my luggage was stolen when I was traveling; it was very, very sad. From the time I was on my own at 17, it was just peering into windows, imagining, and spending my time on that crosstown bus, looking in the windows of Bonwit Teller, Bendel’s, Bennis/Edwards, Ferragamo, and Maud Frizon. You know what I said to my daughters yesterday? We were spending the day together, and we went to the grocery store. I said, “Have you window shopped?” and they said, “No, what is window shopping?” I said, “Window shopping is shopping with your imagination, so we can see everything.”
VF Daily: Has Manolo seen the finished products?
Malkemus: Well, I wouldn’t put anything past him, but you know what, it’s meant to be two different worlds. As I said, this is a different woman. This is a woman who doesn’t go into Bergdorf Goodman and spend $20,000 on shoes in an afternoon.
SJP: Maybe he’s secretly following @SJPCollection on Instagram.
VF Daily: It’s been 10 years since Sex and the City went off the air; did you realize that this show still has this cultural pull?
SJP: I think for so long I was completely ignorant of any relationship an audience may or may not have with the show. Forgive me for repeating it, but I did not understand—I think I was so entrenched in the work, and because I was producing the show, and acting in it, and by the end I had a new child, my first child, I did not understand this significance culturally. It wasn’t until the last episode aired, and I was sitting on a couch with my husband at home, and I was watching CNN, and a crawl went by, and it said, “Carrie ended up with Big,” or something like this. I was like, “They can run Carrie, like, without any point of reference around it,” and that was the first time I ever understood that there was an audience that was larger than the people we were shooting with every day. You know, the crowds had grown on the street, and I recognized that, but I never read reviews, I don’t read press, I don’t want to pay attention to the peripheral chitchat.
Malkemus: We have busloads of women—you know, there’s a Sex and the City tour—and they stop in front of Manolo Blahnik, and they’ll get out, and they’ll be these lovely women from London, and they just have to have the Sex and the City shoe. They will say, “I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever thought I was going to spend this kind of money on shoes, but I’ve got to have this, because I’m getting married.” At first I would think, You really want to get married in the shoe that Carrie got married in, but didn’t get married? She didn’t even get married in that, but she did have the shoe in a fantastic apartment on Fifth Avenue.
VF Daily: And today, people still stop in front of the Perry Street house that Carrie Bradshaw lived in.
SJP: Because we live around the corner from that, and I’m nearing the southwest corner of Perry Street, I try to make a diagonal beeline.
Malkemus: But the phenomenal thing about women who are like, “I’ve got to have a cosmo because of Sex and the City.” It’s like, really? Is that what you really want to drink?
SJP: It’s a nice drink I’ve only recently discovered. It’s actually delicious.
VF Daily: Really?
SJP: Yeah, they’re quite good. I had one last night with a nice amount of lemon in it, and it was delicious, and, of course, the bartender was like, “Naturally.” I was like, “No, I really don’t drink cosmopolitans.” I’ve only recently, like, in the very recent past, even considered ordering one. I felt so embarrassed doing it. I’m not a drinker, so I don’t know what else to order, but it was delicious.
VF Daily: Michael Patrick King recently said that a third Sex and the City movie could be possible.
SJP: I’m glad he finally at least said something. It’s off my back!
VF Daily: Is anyone working on this—writing a script, are there talks?
SJP: No, nothing, or at least nothing beyond how we taunt the public with various quotes.