Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

If the shoe fits...Sarah Jessica Parker teams up with Manolo Blahnik CEO

From Sheena McKenzie, for CNN, and Maggie Lake, CNN
updated 11:02 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • SJP to launch new shoe range with Manolo Blahnik
  • Cost between $195 and $500 per pair at Nordstrom
  • 'Sex and the City' star tries each shoe to ensure comfort
  • Influenced by mom's chic style growing up in Ohio

Editor's note: Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time. Each month, we meet two women at the top of their field, exploring their careers, lives and ideas.

(CNN) -- "You can take my Fendi Baguette, you can take my ring and my watch, but don't take my Manolo Blahniks," begs Carrie Bradshaw while being mugged at gunpoint.

It's no use. The heartless thief takes her precious strappy sandals anyway.

Should health be the third metric of success?
Advice for ambitious women

Ok, so while it's a pretty far-fetched story line -- how many criminals are going to spot a designer heel two meters away? -- it does point to the "Sex and the City" character's unhealthy obsession with the shoe label.

Indeed, Manolo Blahniks were as much a part of the hit TV show's lexicon as Cosmopolitans and Rampant Rabbits. The six-year series introduced the Blahnik brand to millions of women across the world -- even if they could never actually afford them.

Of course, Carrie's shoe infatuation wasn't just the stuff of fiction. Actor Sarah Jessica Parker -- who won four Golden Globes for her portrayal of the sassy New York columnist from 1998 to 2004 -- is a Manolo Blahnik diehard for real.

So when she called up the coveted shoe company's chief executive, George Malkemus, on the off-chance he'd want to create a range together, she was delighted when the business mogul "took on this little pipsqueak."

A dream come true: SJP shows off her new shoe range at Nordstrom.
Getty Images

"I was terrified at picking up the phone and being bold enough to say to George: 'Would you ever consider a partnership?'" says 49-year-old Parker, while sitting next to Malkemus in an interview with CNN's Maggie Lake. "I was perfectly willing for him to say no, prepared for it in fact."

"But I did not say no," adds Malkemus, who had never worked with a female designer before. "I said 'come to my office tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock.'"

Accessible accessories?

I have always felt that there was this group of 10 million women that I was honor-bound to in some way
Sarah Jessica Parker

The shoes will cost between $195 and $500 and be sold at U.S. retail giant Nordstrom --a place partly chosen for its accessibility to a wider range of women.

"I have always felt that there was this group of 10 million women that I was honor-bound to in some way," said Parker. "I wouldn't be having this opportunity if it weren't for the dedication and diligence with which they committed to the TV show and my character who loved shoes.'"

"Sure, it would be a thrill to make shoes that cost hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars. But the truth is those would not be accessible to those women who have given me this opportunity."

Creature comforts

Apart from the 'SJP' stamp of approval, how much influence did Parker actually have in the design?

"Sarah Jessica told me she was going to try on everything," said Malkemus. "And she does try on everything -- she runs up and down the corridors to make sure that it'll be comfortable for the woman who's going to purchase that shoe."

Fab Four: "Sex and the City" introduced millions of women to Manolo Blahniks.
Getty Images

Parker added: "I would say to George: 'How comfortable is that going to be under the ball of my foot?' Because we have spent so many years of our lives, rightly or wrongly, running around in shoes, we know how it feels."

Other personal touches included different colored ribbons on each shoe -- relating to the ribbons Parker would wear in her hair as a little girl.

"This was something for my mother," she said of the striking strips of material.

Fashion house

Born in Ohio, Parker was one of eight children -- including four from her mother's second marriage.

We have spent so many years of our lives running around in shoes, so we know how it feels
Sarah Jessica Parker

"We couldn't afford beautiful things, but my mother was very clever and industrious," she said. "We would go to church Tag Sales in the wealthier neighborhoods."

"I do remember sitting in what we called my mother's dressing room -- it was just a closet that separated me and my sister's bedroom that we shared, and my parents' room -- and we would watch her get dressed, and the last thing she would do was spray fragrance and it seemed like she was walking down this long boulevard to go down to the glamorous nightlife of Ohio."

The family later moved to New York, where Parker attended acting schools, landing the lead in the Broadway musical of "Annie." She made a name for herself on the big screen in "Footloose," "Hocus Pocus," "The First Wives Club," among many others.

Mum's the word

Parker married fellow actor Matthew Broderick in 1997 and the couple have three children. How does she juggle a successful career and family?

Parker and Matthew Broderick have been married 16 years.
Getty Images

"I am in a position to choose to be busy," she said. "There are millions of women in this country who have to work two or three jobs, who don't have the support system, who don't have the financial means to choose the kind of care they want for their children."

"When I ride on the subway, every day I can see in someone's eyes that they're off to their second or third job in the day, and that they haven't seen their kids, and they're leaving their children someplace that they'd rather not. And so it seems ridiculous for me to wax on about how busy I am or how hard it is to balance these things in my life."

Read: Is "Sex and the City 3" on the cards?

Learn: What Vivienne Westwood did next

Inspire: Why Gloris Steinem is a fashion icon

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:24 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
NASA's chief scientist Dr Ellen Stofan wants to land humans on Mars by 2035, but there are some serious challenges to overcome before then.
updated 5:41 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
The Design Museum hosts a power dressing exhibition, from Joan of Arc's short tunics, to Joan Collins' eye-gouging shoulder pads.
updated 11:20 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Opinion piece from architect Zaha Hadid on growing up in a very different Iraq, to close Leading Women's month of STEM coverage.
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Leading Women ran an iReport assignment which resulted in some amazing images of girls in STEM from our readers.
updated 7:08 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Robots can be many things -- knowledgeable, dexterous, strong. But can they ever be genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious?
updated 2:30 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Victoria Beckham has come a long way from Posh Spice. She has now been named Britain's top entrepreneur, by magazine Management Today.
updated 10:47 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Just one in seven engineers are female. STEM experts share their ideas on how to get more girls into the industry.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
In 2006 she sold her business to Estée Lauder in a reported multi-million dollar deal, five years later she started a brand new company.
updated 6:14 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs have come from women, though like so many inventors their names are lost in the pages of history.
updated 8:02 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
Leading Women hosted a Twitter Chat celebrating girls in science with guests including race car drivers, software developers and coders.
updated 5:36 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
There's a fine science to running a billion dollar company. Rosalind Brewer should know -- she used to study chemistry.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu October 9, 2014
Join our twitter chat @CNNIwomen on October 9 at 5pm GMT/12pm EST and look for #CNNwomen #IDG14.
ADVERTISEMENT