Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker discusses her new HBO series, reveals her most memorable purchase ever (you'll be surprised), and gives us 2016 election cycle predictions.
Sarah Jessica Parker is no stranger to design, but the launch of her new SJP Strip Collection of glittery Italian-made shoes and handbags, produced in partnership with Zappos Couture and sold exclusively through the online retailer, marks her first time experimenting with the Vegas aesthetic. We checked in with Parker at Zappos Couture’s pop-up shop inside The Shops at Crystals, where she shared the story behind the Sin City-inspired collection and gave us an intimate look at her new HBO-backed project.
Earlier today, you toured the Zappos campus in Downtown Vegas. How was that?
SARAH JESSICA PARKER: Well, I was given the official title of “Zapponian.” I met a local councilman, which was pretty terrific. And, most importantly, I met Tony [Hsieh] and his colleagues. I had a young man named Tyler give me a tour, and then the choir sang a song from Rent, “Seasons of Love,” which I die for. My brother was in Rent originally, so he sang that song. It’s been great.
You’ve done several collections in the past, but is it a different experience when you’re partnering with a company that’s strictly Web-based?
SJP: It’s different, but it’s pretty great, and the reason is because there’s so much muscle behind this e-commerce business. It’s such a behemoth, and they have such a huge spectrum of customers. Typically, I think your [brick-and-mortar] retail partners know their customer, and there’s a kind of customer that they cater to because they curate in detail for that person, so you don’t get to tell your whole story all the time.
What’s been great for us is that we get to tell a much more complete story now. We’re telling a whole collection, and they don’t have rules at Zappos.com or Zappos Couture, which is great for somebody like me, who has no interest in the rules. I don’t want to be told that black is a neutral. I want to say, “So is purple. So is royal blue. So is fuchsia.” Those really are neutrals to me, and we managed to find a retail partner who says, “Yeah, of course they are. You should do them in flats and sandals, and be decadent and indulgent and ridiculous and whimsical.” That’s how I came up with what I named the Strip Collection. It was about recreating that glow and that bounce in a shoe collection.
The Carrie and the Ursula
What do you think of Vegas style?
SJP: I don’t get to spend much time here, but I think the idea is like an alternate universe, or a fantasy. People come here for entertainment and to feel liberated in some way—to be indulgent and to sort of stop everything else for a minute and suspend all reality. Obviously, that’s not the day-to-day of working here and living here, but I think the idea of it is sort of a fantasy of color and light and good times. For me, it was enormously fun to do in a shoe collection.
You’re wearing the Naomi heels now. Are they your favorite pair in the collection?
SJP: I don’t have a favorite—I just can’t do it—but I do I love the Ursula and the Naomi, and of course the Carrie. I just think she’s so naughty and sexy and perfect and subversive. I also love the Tart, which is like a hearty Mary Jane, but we did it in all of these crazy colors.
One of the reasons women seem to identify with you so strongly is because you’re such a dichotomous person—a high-fashion fanatic who also happens to drive a vintage Ford station wagon.
SJP: The station wagon—you have no idea. I found it online after searching for almost two years. That is my favorite thing that I have ever bought for myself in my life. It’s the greatest car ever. It’s so big it’s insane, and I know it’s such an environmentally unfriendly car, but we don’t drive it very often. We only drive it in summer, but I’m not ridiculous about it—we don’t drive it on the highway. It’s really a “special treat” kind of car.
Your new series, Divorce, was picked up by HBO on last week. Can you tell us anything about that?
SJP: I can tell you I’ve been working on it for four years, and our little company [Pretty Matches Productions] is producing it. I was very curious about the landscape of marriages—what they mean and how people conduct them, and how hard and thrilling and heartbreaking they can be. When do you give up? What does it take?
Blythe Danner had a wonderful quote. She was desperately in love with her husband [Bruce Paltrow] until he passed away, and she’s a dear friend of mine. She said that somebody said to Bruce once, “How is it that you’ve stayed married all of these years?” And he said, “We never wanted to get divorced at the same time.”
I think it’s a great quote. I said to Matthew [Broderick, Parker’s husband], “I just heard the best quote from Blythe, but I can never use it because people will be saying, ‘They want to get divorced!’ ” But that’s the truth of marriage—you really have to take care of it. They don’t work a lot, and it’s heartbreaking and thrilling and liberating and all of those things. I just thought it was a really interesting opportunity, and I wanted to tell the story of a woman in a marriage—or, no longer in a marriage. We found an amazing writer, Sharon Horgan, who wrote a perfect script, and we got Thomas Haden Church and Molly Shannon and Talia Balsam and shot it last month. It’s an amazing cast. Thomas Haden Church was my first choice for the role, and I never thought he’d say yes. He hadn’t done television in 20 years.
Is it exciting to be working with HBO again?
SJP: I guess I can think about it now. Until it was picked up, I was kind of terrified to even ponder if it would be fun to be back, because I didn’t want to be disappointed or be jinxed. HBO is my home, despite not having been on their screen in a while, and it’s such a treat to be back there and to have found a thing that they feel really excited about.
You’ve also done quite a bit of political campaigning in the past. What are your thoughts on Hillary Clinton announcing her presidential candidacy? Will you be campaigning this time around, too?
SJP: Yes, although I don’t think of [Clinton’s announcement] as a foregone conclusion. I love that we live in a democracy. I love an election cycle, period—live for it—and so do my children. My son is deeply into the process. During the election cycle, he always runs downstairs every morning and asks, “What are the numbers?”
But I don’t think [Clinton] is going to be alone among the Democrats. I think there are going to be people that pop up are who are exciting and challenging, and that’ll be good for her. That kind of conversation among your own party is good for everybody. I want to hear ideas, and I don’t think she thinks she’s cornered the market on ideas as far as what’s exciting and important for this country. I expect there will be a couple of other announcements [from Democratic candidates], but that will be good for our country. And of course I love that a woman is being taken seriously—I think that’s great.
PHOTOGRAPHY VIA ZAPPOS COUTURE (SHOES)