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Sarah Jessica Parker stopped by the Michigan Avenue Nordstrom last week to introduce locals to her new line of SJP shoes and accessories. Hours before the style icon started signing pumps, a line of fans stretched out of the store and into the mall, and the excitement could be cut with a stiletto heel.
As fans waited patiently, SJP chatted with reporters in a brightly lit green room filled with shoes, bags, and the grosgrain-trim trench coat from her line. In a white dress, grey stirrup tights (these), and a ribbon wrapped around her wrist, the actress greeted us with "look how pretty you look!" She extended her hand, said "I'm Sarah Jessica," and the conversation began.
Can you tell me about a shoe that's named after a member of your family?
The only one that's named after a member of my family is the Bobbie, which comes in this mint and a coral color—actually, a sort of coral color, not unlike that purse [on the table]. But actually it's much softer, much more polite, because it's suede, so it takes on a softer color. [Holds out the shoe] Feel that padding.
Is Bobbie an aunt, or…
My mom is named Bobbie. That's the only shoe that's named after a family member. It's bad luck to name shoes after children.
Is it really?
Yeah, I didn't know that either. George [Malkemus, Manolo Blahnik C.E.O. and a partner in the SJP line] told me. And I listen to everything George says about shoes because he's he's a wizard. Other shoes were named after women that I have admired. Tanny was named after Tanny Le Clercq, who was a wonderful dancer with the New York City ballet. The Etta is named for Audrey Hepburn. It's rumored that her real name was Etta. The Iva's named after a dear friend of mine named Iva; the Ina's named after my publicist of 25 years. There's a Pola named after the silent movie actress Pola Negri. And then other names that I just loved.
Have your children picked out a favorite shoe in the collection, even if there's not one named after them?
My daughter Loretta loves the Bobbie in mint, and I don't think they've picked favorites beyond that. My husband loves the Anna in asparagus.
What's the oldest, most sentimental pair of shoes you own?
Probably my first Manolos. I got some pairs in 1985 or '86 from a trunk show that he signed, most of which disappeared when I had my luggage stolen. I think I have one pair left, and that is a grosgrain mule with something that looks almost like a dialed- up comma attached to it. It's really beautiful, but I haven't worn it in probably 20-some years.
I read that when you grew up, it was a special occasion to go shoe shopping, and you'd go downtown with your whole family. Have you carried that tradition on with your own family?
Well, there were different circumstances at that point in my life. It was a special occasion, but it was an occasion that was met regardless. We went twice a year, at the top of the school year, and then in the spring we got a new pair of shoes for the spring weather. And with my children, I kind of do all of that for them. The online world provides a whole different way of shopping. When I had my son I went to the shoe store with him more often. But with my daughters, I tend to grab for them, and they try them on and then I return what doesn't fit.
What if you could design a shoe store—have you ever thought about this? What would it look like, what kind of music would you play…
Wow. I would probably have a lot of different kinds of music. My iPad has Irish music, it has Arabic music, it has Turkish music, it has choral music, Bulgarian music, Beyoncé, Sting, The Rolling Stones, Maroon 5—I mean it has everything. So, that would probably be on shuffle all the time. And I think in terms of looks, it's a little hard to explain. I think it would be a combination of probably Rhoda Morgenstern, Bendel's in the '70s, and maybe like a Biba kind of look.
You've been traveling a lot. Is there something you always keep on you when you travel?
I always travel with a stuffed animal that I've had since my son was born, and I always travel with a book.
The stuffed animal is this very odd, wonderful sort of koala, it's called a Flatout bear. I don't know if you've ever seen them, but it's a kind of shearling, flat teddy bear. It's so cute. And right now, I'm reading The Other Language by Francesca Mariciano. It's wonderful.
In another interview, you'd said that you read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I'm reading that now.
Oh my God. It's heartbreaking. Where are you?
Oh, I just started it.
I'm jealous. You have a whole world in front of you. It's incredible. That is one of the great American novels of all time. It's great, great, great.
Okay, time for one more question. Which, if any of these things, would you like to do next: design a menswear line, design a children's line, or style Hillary Clinton for the campaign trail?
Oh my God. Those are good! Now, women are capable of doing so many things, so couldn't I focus on the children's line and just spend time with Hillary? She doesn't need any advice from me. But I would be happy to get her coffee, or carry her luggage, or offer soup when she's tired, or make Xeroxes of speeches or documents.
· All Sarah Jessica Parker coverage [Racked National]
· SJP—Sarah Jessica Parker Shoes [Nordstrom]