If anyone knows shoes, it's Sarah Jessica Parker. Carrie Bradshaw, the character Parker launched into the cultural canon 20 years ago with her portrayal on Sex and the City, is practically synonymous with the accessories. The show has been credited with propelling Manolo Blahnik to massive mainstream success—by 2000, Neiman Marcus alone was selling 30,000 Manolos a year, largely off the strength of Carrie's name. Even the most casual SATC viewer knows Carrie's stiletto collection—which she later estimates at $40,000—is unrivaled. "I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes," she famously says in season 4 when she struggles to scrounge up the funds to buy her long-time apartment when it goes co-op.
There's no denying Carrie's famous fashion sense has lent some credence—or at least name recognition—to Parker's own venture: Since the 2014 launch of SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker, she's been a bona fide designer. And on April 16, she's bringing 5,000 pairs of SJP shoes here to Houston for a warehouse sale to benefit MD Anderson Cancer Center.
It's the first time Parker has hosted such a sale for a specific cause, and it's a personal one: Her business partner "and dear friend of many years," George Malkemus—who's also president of Manolo Blahnik USA and a San Antonio native—came up with the idea after his life partner (and Manolo VP), Tony Yurgaitis, was treated for prostate cancer at MD Anderson. Malkemus and Yurgaitis "spent a great deal of time flying between Houston and New York," Parker said, specifically for the "great care and medical protocol" of the renowned cancer center. When Malkemus approached Parker with the concept of giving back to MD Anderson, "I said, 'of course,'" she told Houstonia. "We've seen how wonderful it's been. Life-changing."
MD Anderson says some of the SJP shoes will also be donated to the Prom Party Palooza, the hospital's annual event for teen patients and their families later this month.
And yes, Parker will be at the Bayou City Event Center to sell the shoes herself. "I'm gonna be working the floor like I do," she said. "We've spent a little bit of time in Texas in the past ... we're really excited to be there."
The SJP Collection is defined by its liberal use of color—"as a neutral," Parker's press kit says, "in ways that may not be typical"—and signature accent: a grosgrain stripe over the seam on the back of each heel, a callback to the grosgrain ribbons Parker wore in her hair as a child.
Each design carries its own name and story, including, of course, the Carrie—"a chic, simple, sexy T-strap pump" that's easy to envision scurrying down a Manhattan street. We'd hoped to pick Parker's brain on the myriad shoes Carrie donned over six seasons and two feature films, from dispelling urban shoe myths with Manolo's Mary Jane heel in the Vogue closet to being "shoe-shamed" at a baby shower when her $485 stilettos turn up missing. Alas, Parker declined to go there. She's focused on the sale.
That means raising money for cancer research, of course, but also meeting supporters, people who (and, okay, maybe we're projecting here) perhaps feel like they already know Parker—or at least the shoe-loving character she made so famous. For her part, she said, she's excited "for the opportunity to be engaging people and thanking them for letting me into their lives and into their homes."
The SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker warehouse sale runs from 9 a.m.–7 p.m. (or while inventory lasts) on Tuesday, April 16 at the Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight Rd. It's free and open to the public; while not required, online registration is encouraged.