I Don’t Know How She Does It is the title of one of her films, but it’s also a genuine question you’re likely to have after meeting Sarah Jessica Parker. The fashionista of Sex and the City fame has come straight from a parent-teacher conference to discuss her current passion project, which, as fans of her footwear-obsessed SATC character Carrie Bradshaw will find quite fitting, is a line of shoes. The style icon will release the SJP Collection by Sarah Jessica Parker, 25 styles of boots, pumps, and heels as well as two bags and a trench coat, exclusively at Nordstrom on February 28 and will be in LA to present her new collection at The Grove on March 6 from 5-6 p.m.; she will meet customers and sign their SJP purchase throughout the event (as time permits). Parker took a moment from her whirlwind lifestyle to sit down with Haute Living and discuss how she convinced Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus to become her business partner, why there had to be a “Carrie” in the collection and the truth behind the rumors she’ll be taking over for Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
Haute Living: How did the collaboration come about?
Sarah Jessica Parker: I had had some other opportunities [to do collections in the past] and wasn’t quite sure about them, but I still felt there was one idea I hadn’t yet pursued. It was my big dream, and rather bold of me to work with George [Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus]. We first met in 1985, but I got to know him while working on Sex and the City. I was having lunch with friends, all successful businesswomen, who told me to pick up the phone and be brave. [When he answered] I told him it was a long shot, and asked if he would consider producing a shoe collection with me. He told me to be at his office at 9 AM. Before I met with George, I knew I wanted to do a beautiful collection that I could speak of with genuine enthusiasm. I wanted it to be made in Italy, and I wanted it to be affordable, not $1000 shoes. I wound up partnering with someone who wanted the same things I wanted coincidentally, and wonderfully, someone who had a position of reference. [George] arrived in New York at the same time I did. As a young woman taking the cross-town bus, the same things I saw upon my arrival were the same things he saw. I wanted a collection that wasn’t so much ’70s, but where the inspiration [of the '70s] was a driving force. I wanted to make purple T-straps that could be worn to dinner or work and that could be used as a neutral; I wanted purple to become the new black.
Haute Living: Can you walk us through the collection, how each piece directly recalls a time in your life?
Sarah Jessica Parker: The shoes aren’t drastically from many different points in my life. The inspiration was the late ’70s and the mod resistance of New York , Charles Jourdan, Susan Bennis and Warren Edwards and countless others that were prominently a part of the New York shoe business. [I incorporated grosgrain ribbon] because when I was a little girl, I had to wear ribbons in my hair every day. We were required to wear them by our mother, so we took them out of the ribbon drawer and ironed them ourselves. Sitting on the floor with George — where we conduct all our business – I said, ‘George, do you think we could put grosgrain on the back of each shoe?’ He was delighted with the idea and it became our signature, as well as a nice nod to my mother. We picked a beautiful, salmon-y peach color, which is incorporated into every shoe. In a wonderfully crowded shoe market, it’s a nice distinguishing signature.
Haute Living: Do you have a favorite piece or pieces in the collection?
Sarah Jessica Parker: I don’t have a favorite. There’s a few that I’ve been inclined to wear more than others. [The collection] is suited to different ages and sizes, it’s cross- generational, but there are certain ones I love. I’m fond of the Carrie, the Tawny in French blue, the Etta in charcoal and dusty rose, the Pola in black and the Wallace in berry and raisin The Alison is a great boot alternative for women who don’t like to wear a traditional heel.
Haute Living: There were rumors that you’d be filling Anna Wintour’s shoes at Vogue. Do you think the rumors were just the media’s wishful thinking that life might imitate art?
Sarah Jessica Parker: [That rumor] started because we had lunch a couple weeks ago. We were waiting at the elevator bank, and I was saying goodbye. We do have lunch occasionally. I was in no way positioning for that job, and she’s not going anywhere, thank goodness. There are about 1001 people far better suited than me who are equipped to take on such a massive, important role, but I’m definitely not the one.
Read our full interview with Sarah Jessica, learn more about her well-heeled style and see her full shoe colleciton in the upcoming issue of Haute Living Magazine Los Angeles.