We’d be hard-pressed to find a celebrity that we’d trust more with our wardrobes than Sarah Jessica Parker, the stylish and talented actress who, of course, brought Carrie Bradshaw to life on HBO’s Sex and the City. Though those days are sadly over, Parker has since delivered a trove of sartorial inspiration worthy of her alter ego. As a permanent fixture at fashion events and an enthusiastic champion of designers young and old, it’s not surprising that she’d want to translate her fashion expertise into a tangible product.
The result, the SJP Collection by Sarah Jessica Parker, is not your average celebrity line—no, the collection centres around the always classy single-sole heel; it's made of the most luxurious fabrics and, most notably, it's crafted entirely in Italy. The appeal was only confirmed last weekend when I visited Parker at her two-day pop-up shop at The Shops at Crystals in Las Vegas, and got to see all of the shoes up close. It certainly didn't feel like your cliche Vegas inside the expansive shops, which not only boast the largest number of high-end flagships in America, but a James Turrell exhibit smack-dab in the middle of Louis Vuitton, too.
There to celebrate the launch of her exclusive new line for Zappos Couture, aptly titled The Strip Collection, Parker opened up to me about exactly who she thinks of when designing and why it’s crucial not to dress for anyone else! Scroll down to find out what the actress had to say.
Why did you decide to design shoes, above all else?
I’ve always loved shoes since I was a little girl. I met [Manolo Blahnik CEO] George Malkemus in 1986 at a trunk show in L.A., where I bought my first pair of Manolo’s on an American Express card, which was insane at the time because I had to figure out a way to pay it off!
How is this collection different than what you’ve designed previously?
It’s not radically different. I sort of did a capsule of my larger collection, which is kind of strange since you usually do that with someone else’s collection. But when I met the Zappos team—because I go to every market and sales meeting myself—I got really excited about their whole attitude toward [what we could do], which was essentially: There are no rules here! That’s the kind of news you want to hear at a sales meeting and [when they decided] to have a brick and mortar for the first time ever for this, I decided I should do an exclusive collection just for them, called The Strip Collection, for obvious reasons. When you think of Vegas—the nightlife, adventure and decadence—a lot of things come to mind, like colour, sparkle, and light. So I took our essential silhouettes, which we’ll never abandon, and thought differently about how to treat the fabrics, ornamentation, and leathers. I think it suits this city really, really well.
Were there any women in particular who inspired you while designing?
No one specific. I live in New York City, so I see all sorts of women all day long—I see tall women, short women, big women, small women, women of colour, women who are pale-skinned, women who come from foreign lands and dress in wonderful region-specific clothes, women who wear lots of make-up or women who choose not to—and I LOVE it all! I would never want to design for one woman because I just simply don’t think that’s fair. I just ride the subway and look around, or I see women getting off the Staten Island ferry, or hailing a cab and jumping a puddle—they all play a huge part in how I design.
How much does customer feedback affect your designs?
It’s already hard enough, even with a collection as diverse as this one, [to please everyone]. Someone will say “the heels are too high,” and then someone else will say “the heels aren’t high enough!” Or, you know, “you should do more flats” or “you should do less flats.” So I think, at the end of the day, you just have to design a collection that you believe in, that you’re excited about, that you want to wear, and that’s well made. All of our shoes are made in Italy, which isn’t done anymore at this price point. Relatively speaking—though I know it’s still not easy for everyone—these are more affordable [than other shoes that are made in Italy].
Does the character of Carrie Bradshaw enter your mind when you’re designing?
Well, I knew early on that I was going to name one of the shoes "Carrie," and I thought a lot about what that meant. I think that Carrie was very uninterested in convention, and the shoe I chose to name after her is, on the surface, a rather conventional, well-behaved shoe, but there’s actually something kind of naughty and subversive about it. That [juxtaposition] defines Carrie.
Has her character influenced the way you dress on a regular basis?
I think Patricia Field has influenced me. It’s hard to say Carrie did, because so much of what she wore actually came from Pat. The work that we did together with her team, which became pretty big over the course of the show, definitely has [influenced me]. But I have other influences, too, that are equally important, and I know it sounds Pollyanna, but the women that I see on the street are just as influential to me.
When I’m getting dressed, though, I just think about myself—I put on what makes me feel good when I walk out the door. Don’t you feel your best when you simply feel like yourself? And you’ve stopped trying to dress like one of your friends or a colleague or the way your mother told you to dress growing up, or what some magazine says is a "trend"?
When do you think you got to that confident, comfortable place?
I think I’ve been that way for a long time, and it’s unrelated to Carrie Bradshaw. I mean it’s pretty well documented, you know, in the ‘80s I was wearing dresses from Alice Underground and steel-toed boots, and it wasn’t because anybody told me to—I did it because I liked it. I liked the feeling, I liked the look, and Madonna hadn’t done it yet! It’s just what I responded to. I lived in a city. I could only afford thrift store dresses—and when I say thrift store I mean the 50-cent bin.
So I’ve always kind of been my own person, and look, there have been a lot of misses along the way—people have had lots of opinions and they haven’t always been friendly, but I can’t really dress for other people because then I won’t feel like myself! You’re never going to please everyone.
What’s the style staple that you just can’t live without?
Whatever boot can withstand a puddle that doesn’t appear to be a puddle! And for nighttime, I’ve been loving this shoe called the Tartt—named for Donna Tartt. It’s a chunky Mary Jane, very sparkly and fun.
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Bobbie in Black - COMING SOON
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Carrie in Liberty Metal Nappa ($355)
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Carrie in Gold - COMING SOON
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Fawn in Gold - COMING SOON
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Fawn in Lavender - COMING SOON
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Fawn in Pink Satin ($350)
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Fawn in Silver - COMING SOON
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Lady in Purple ($350)
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Lady in Poppy ($350)
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Ursula - COMING SOON
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Wittman in Black - COMING SOON
SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Wittman in Blue - COMING SOON
What are your thoughts on Sarah Jessica Parker's latest collection? Let us know in the comments!