Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
This past weekend marked the highly-anticipated launch of actress/style icon Sarah Jessica Parker's new shoe line, SJP, at Nordstrom Aventura. The Italian-made collection, sold exclusively at Nordstrom, resurrects single soles with über feminine designs, heaps of color and a signature grosgrain accent on the back seam of each.
Created in tandem with Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus (a detail that couldn't be any more fabulous considering Carrie Bradshaw's Manolo obsession on Sex and the City), SJP is intended to be a "cross-generational" collection, offering an assortment of low, medium and high heels,
a chance to reenact your dirtiest SITC fantasies, flats and an array of materials and colors suitable for just about anyone.
We sat down to chat with Parker (who gushed about the new project whilst hugging several pairs of heels on her lap) about collaborating with "shoe whisperer" George Malkemus (he chimed in, too), the story behind the heels and –but of course- sex.
What's something that you want everyone to know about the SJP collection?
Sarah Jessica Parker: That it's filled with color in a unique way. We're using color as a neutral. That it was made in Italy and that our great goal was to make a beautiful, long-lasting, well-made shoe that would fit into their lives for many years to come, if not just today.
What took you so long to design shoes? Why now?
SJP: I think I was waiting for the right partner. I mean, I've been given lots of opportunities and was sort of stymied, in fact, by my reluctance to say yes given what a wonderful opportunity the idea was. Ultimately I think... I was harboring this secret desire to work with George and I spent a lot of years thinking that it was an impossibility. So, when I finally had the courage to ask George and we met, it became the right time. Whether or not it is in a larger sense, obviously we'll learn, but I think that a right partner, especially for an endeavor as meaningful as this, is really critical.
What's it like working with George? How do you collaborate on design?
SJP: It's a dream. It's a master class. It's working with the wizard or the shoe whisperer or, there's any number of wonderful things you could call him, but it's like somebody offering up another education late in your life. So the collaborative process is … I don't know if it's like others … we sit in a room, we talk about images that were important to us, that are important to us, we talk about times and places, we talk about what that single sole meant to us, colors we want to pursue, fabrications that we want to explore. This week has been incredibly informative because we're seeing what we think works. We're actually not seeing a lot that didn't work, strangely enough [laughs].
George Malkemus: What women are saying is incredibly important and useful in our design process going forward.
SJP: We will go back and take all this information- of course, there will be more collected over the next few days and it will be enormously helpful- so that will become part of our collaborative process. The unique thing about a relationship with a retailer like Nordstrom is that the customer really is a part of the conversation. They've built a long history of customer service and we expect that when we go home, we're going to hear more from them and that will become actually part of the collaborative process. They'll say, 'more color' or 'more bags, boots…' so that's what the collaborative process is like. It's conversations, it's images, it's ideas, it's dreams … and then we have this extraordinary production facility in Tuscany, where [the shoe-maker] is part of the conversation too because he's a creative, third-generation shoe-maker himself.
The crowd in Nordstrom waiting to meet Sarah Jessica Parker
Most designer's collections have a fairly narrow theme, but yours is very eclectic. How did you choose colors, accents, details, etc.?
SJP: Well the main theme is pretty linear, which is a single sole. And all we did was kind of give the single sole a heartbeat. So we said 'we want single sole, we want to really revisit it, explore it, see what it can be.' Then we kind of put things in, picked buckets of colors.
Really, they actually all tell the same story if you looked at it on a line. Once we offered the entire collection to Nordstrom they then curated it. That's their job as the buyers... Once we finished, this was the story that they wanted to tell.
GM: And I think that you wanted to tell and that you loved. And then this key thing [a grosgrain strip] that's always in every single shoe.
SJP: You know about this, right? So, you'll see it on the back of every shoe. I just think it looks so freakin' good. Even on the nude on nude and dark colors. That was something that was just kind of divine intervention one day sitting on the floor with George.
GM: Eating chicken noodle soup.
SJP: And I was looking at that seam on the rear end and all of a sudden it looked really naked to me. I was like, wait a minute George, can we put grosgrain? Can that be a strip of grosgrain? Can we afford that? You know, what does grosgrain cost? How do you get grosgrain that will last but that's not the most expensive? Because grosgrain can get … I mean, like this is not the finest, but it's... Anyway, those are the conversations.
What would you say is the sexiest item that a woman can wear to bed?
SJP: To bed? Well …
GM: Chanel No.5 [laughs]
SJP: Nothing and a strappy heel. Nothing and a black Carrie or a purple Carrie. Good lord... good luck to that man or woman.
GM: The Allison.
SJP: Yeah, the Allison is coming in pre-fall in suedes and berry and gray I think.
GM: That might be a wild one.
SJP: Yeah, I think the Carrie in a black or purple and absolutely nothing else. I pity the other person! [laughs]
· All SJP Posts [Racked Miami]