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Sarah Jessica Parker on her fashion trips, shoes and styling tips

Sarah Jessica Parker talks about fashion trips on and off screen, shoes and style faux pas.

White tutu. Dirty blonde curls. Pink tank top. Jimmy Choo leopard pumps. Then whoosh – a bus passes, leaving her outfit wet and strewn with droplets of puddle water. This kinetic scene has become the contemporary symbol of New York and its perfect heroine, Carrie Bradshaw, facing the incomparable Sarah Jessica Parker, avatar of the protagonists of the style of the whole world and their dreams of Manhattan. Parker’s fashionable vibe had the Upper East Siders sweeping the shelves of Manolo Blahnik boutiques clean and loot the showrooms of New York designers. After four seasons, two movies and now a new HBO series, Bradshaw and Parker’s bravado and influence continue to be unwavering.

Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of And just like that

First mid-1998, sex and the city along came an instant classic as the fresh-faced, impulsive, and indulgent Carrie brought a new way of looking at sex and relating to the masses. Her wit and candor resonated with women in their 20s and 30s, while inspiring them with her trope of fairy tale and reality; indulging in Carrie’s delicious frivolity and often piquant accounts was a right of passage for many. Few people can forget the first time their AmEx was cut in front of them in a Dolce & Gabbana boutique. And fashion! Remember the bright green Juicy Couture Bradshaw dress paired with a huge blue Hermès bag in season two? The purse, which turned out to be a fake, was meant to mask Parker’s pregnancy in the scene. “[It] had a job to do and did it very badly,” she once said. Or the “naked” DKNY dress she wore to pose for the ad that appeared on the infamous bus during the opening credits. “It’s Carrie then, but I don’t think it’s entirely Carrie.”

Evergreen SJP Collection

Nearly two decades after the original show’s finale, the airy sex columnist’s highly anticipated return to And just like that blessed fans with a new dose of vertigo, somewhat rooted in modern realism. Think of Carrie grappling with heartbreak, following her falling out with original quartet member Samantha Jones, and struggling to remain the face of Manhattan’s sexual liberation.

Photo by ERIK C PENDZICH / Rex Features / Courtesy Everett Collection – SARAH JESSICA PARKER LAST DAY OF FILMING SEX AND THE CITY TV SHOW, NEW YORK, AMERICA – FEBRUARY 04, 2004 TV SERIES ON SET BRIGHT CHERRY PINK SCARF BEIGE PRINTED FUR COAT SKIRT RED FULL LENGTH OPEN TOED SHOES USING MOBILE PHONE LAUGHING CELL PHONE 443315j

These mature issues are naturally reflected in Bradshaw’s clothing, courtesy of costume designers Molly Rogers and Danny Santiago. We saw the blue Manolo Blahniks she wore to her wedding appear in the first episode, as well as her reimagining of the little black dress at Big’s funeral – a high-cut black top and full skirt made up of layers of gray tulle. It echoed Parker’s own obsession with voluminous 1940s-style rayon skirts with a touch of 60s mod. There was, of course, the much-loved granny-style Gingham Batsheva dress that Bradshaw wore with a navy hoodie, three scarves, pink Playtex gloves and chunky sunglasses as she tried to hide from neighbors while smoking outside her brownstone. Parker says the costume was inspired by the experience of one of the show’s writers. Some things seem to be lingering – an Oscar de la Renta dress, Manolos or the theatrical attempts to conceal your nicotine addiction from New Yorkers. Naturally, we can’t wait to see what Carrie brings out of her closet (both physical and deep in the ballrooms of her mind) next. The desire, alas, remains largely insatiable, as Parker – with the grace of a seasoned diplomat – declines my requests for comment on the series’ second installment.

Carrie Bradshaw wearing the famous blue Manolos in the first episode of And just like that

Even though Parker and his iconic character have been in symbiosis for decades, there is a certain separation between the two. “The choices Carrie made on the show weren’t necessarily [the ones] I would in my own life, but I think it’s wonderful. I believe everyone should use fashion as a way to express who they are and what they love,” she tells me. Parker herself would hardly choose the long fur coat with bright pink scarf worn by Carrie in the sex and the city series finale, but the cyan feather on the first film’s gorgeous wedding ensemble was the actor’s own creative decision (although director Michael Patrick King told him it looked like a bird on the head).

Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of And just like that

Stylistic contrasts aside, it was Bradshaw’s only friends who inspired the actor to venture into fashion with the SJP-Collectionrecently launched in Hong Kong at Lane Crawford. “Carrie had a much more fevered relationship with fashion and shoes, but playing her all these years gave me the opportunity to try on hundreds of pairs of shoes and learn about fit, construction, style and comfort,” she says. “It definitely piqued my curiosity about the business and inspired me to get more involved.” Parker launched the brand with the late George Malkemus III, a genius entrepreneur who put Manolo Blahnik on the map of glamorous Manhattanites but lost his battle with cancer last year.

Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of And just like that

The most eye-catching distinction in the SJP collection is the color – magenta, teal velvet, tanzanite satin, scarlet, cyber yellow, and more. “We’re not interested in proper footwear,” she says. “From the start, it was important for us to teach our customers that color is neutral.” It’s a philosophy that Parker herself follows through. There aren’t many who could wear the bright pink Zac Posen she wore with a mismatched Rogue pair from her brand in 2019.

Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of sex and the city

And the rejection of the fashion faux pas concept ignited the fire that fueled the creative engine behind SJP footwear. “I don’t believe in [those]. [People] should wear what they like and what makes them feel good. That’s all that matters.” And, indeed, such an approach has helped her establish herself as one of fashion’s loudest voices. Yet, for the sake of old times, this writer dare to recall the much-documented Prada ensemble Parker wore to the 2002 SAG Awards – a beaded tube top and fully embellished midi skirt.”We all walk out the door every day, most of us trying to make a choice that makes us feel good or looks like us or suits where we are going. This outfit caused so much chatter, but it was just a gimmick,” she comments.

And just like that, Parker and Bradshaw continue to enlighten young and old around the world on fashion sense. It doesn’t always have to be an algorithmically calibrated set of the hottest seasonal items. Sometimes it can even be a cheap tutu from a vintage joint just around the corner.

This story first appeared on PrestigeOnline Hong Kong