Show business to shoe business

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker launched her shoe collection in Dubai this week. Read our candid interview with the star who talks, footwear, films and never failing to be on time.
Sarah Jessica Parker says she can’t choose a favourite design from her range of SJP shoes. Lee Hoagland / The National
Sarah Jessica Parker says she can’t choose a favourite design from her range of SJP shoes. Lee Hoagland / The National

The actress Sarah Jessica Parker autographed the soles of her new shoe collection for legions of fans who queued to meet her at Bloomingdale’s and Harvey Nichols in Dubai this week. The 49-year-old joined forces with the footwear guru George Malkemus III, the chief executive of Manolo Blahnik, to create the range, with exclusive designs for the Middle East market.

Congratulations on your Middle East debut. Have you been a frustrated shoe designer for a long time?

[Laughs] I haven’t really, as luckily I’ve been fulfilled in other areas. But having spent so many years, rather publicly, wearing so many pairs of shoes, I learnt a lot about them. I’ve worn every shape, style and decade of shoe; from vintage to straight off the catwalk, cheap, overly priced, painful, comfortable. Ultimately I had the courage to ask George to partner with me and I knew what I wanted to do.

What were the most important features for your shoes to have?

There were three very important factors and, in fact, if we couldn’t achieve them, we wouldn’t do it. Firstly, the shoes had to be made in Italy. It was also really important for me that the shoes be single sole. And thirdly that colour be treated as a neutral. I know that so many people do a black shoe, a brown shoe very well, but I had no interest in that. I’m of the school that because you wear a purple, crimson or emerald pair of shoes to the office, it doesn’t mean that you are any less capable. George and I also wanted to make shoes at a price that would be thought of as more affordable; we’re not in competition with the big names.

What’s unique about the Dubai collection?

Detailing for the collection was really like living a dream because our distributor here said really what women in Dubai want is colour. That’s all I want to do. Also, women in Dubai treat satin as an everyday fabric while in the United States satin is a special-­occasion shoe, a wedding, birthday and black-tie affair. Here, it’s a very important part of the wardrobe – and an abaya with a bright colour shoe poking out is a way for a woman potentially to convey who she is. It perhaps says a lot about how she feels about herself, what she wants us to know. Sixty to 80 per cent of the colours in Dubai do not exist in the US. Almost none of the ornamentation either.

One of your pumps is named after your character in Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw. Is your personal style in any way similar to her eclectic one?

She’s much more bold and adventurous. She’s simply a more courageous person in lots of areas of her life. I’m also not somebody who wears less fabric; I typically wear more but that’s one of the many reasons it was fun to play that part. To play someone so different over 10 years and live a life so very different to mine, was not unlike living two lives.

Does the SJP Collection signal, for you, a departure from acting and move towards designing?

No, I’m still very interested in being an actor and love what’s challenging about it. I just did a play in New York and just finished a movie called All Roads Lead to Rome, and I’ll probably go back to work in February and work on a couple of things back to back.

From show business to the shoe business: Sarah Jessica Parker launches her footwear range SJP Collection in Dubai

Published: December 9, 2014 04:00 AM


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