Perhaps no other American celebrity in recent history is more synonymous with shoes than Sarah Jessica Parker. For the past two decades, the actress’s famed Sex in the City character, Carrie Bradshaw, has been the voice for a generation of women — and an icon of fab footwear.
Parker (through Carrie) is widely credited for the explosion of popularity surrounding designer Manolo Blahnik, creating an oft-copied look for generations of fashionistas. She has, to paraphrase her character’s famous line, spurred a “ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming” love affair with shoes.
A bit fitting that Parker will be traveling to Houston to encourage a little retail therapy for a worthy cause. On April 16, Parker will host a shopping spree featuring 5,000 pairs of shoes from her SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker line for a sale benefitting MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“I always feel very lucky that I got to be part of something that people feel connected to, and I understand that association doesn’t just go away,” Parker tells CultureMap. “I played a character who has a relationship with clothes and fashion — shoes in particular — and I like it very, very much, but it’s not the focus of my life,” says the “busy mom and working person,” wife, actress, and executive producer. (Parker has just wrapped Season 3 of Divorce, which she stars in and produces for HBO.)
The MD Anderson event is “personal,” as it teams her with Manolo Blahnik president and Parker's “friend for many, many, many years,” George Malkemus. Malkemus’s life partner (and Manolo Blahnik vice president), Tony Yurgaitis, has been a patient at MD Anderson, having been successfully treated for prostate cancer by MD Anderson's Dr. Christopher J. Logothetis.
“It’s obviously been life-altering and life-saving,” says Parker of Yurgaitis’s treatment at MD Anderson. “Both Tony and George feel deeply indebted and profoundly grateful for the kind of attention and care that Tony has received.”
Parker says she, too, feels the gratitude and wanted to help. “George had this idea, and I thought it was fantastic.” She has hosted Houston events at Nordstrom and even completed a hilarious ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” here. “We love visiting Texas, so it’s a great occasion to visit and raise some dollars for MD Anderson,” she says.
On top of her parental, spousal, and professional obligations, Parker directs her SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker line, launched in 2014, with stores in New York.
“One of the reasons we love having the stores in New York is that it is an opportunity to talk to people and hear their stories and about their lives and what they’re doing,” Parker says. “And that’s been the best part of social media for me, the opportunity to have really pleasant, interesting, and touching conversations with people, where prior, I hadn’t had the chance.” She recalls that SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker hit a 200,000 Instagram-follower milestone in Houston.
In addition to benefiting prostate cancer research, a portion of the shoes will be donated to MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital for Prom Party Palooza, April 29, an annual event at MD Anderson for teenage patients and their families, according to MD Anderson.
While she encourages fans and the fashionable to shop for a purpose, Parker says she rarely has time to regale in retail herself. “I’ve been a lousy, bad, negligent shopper,” she jokes. Rather, Parker looks at events such as this as ways to connect with an adoring public.
“I definitely feel an obligation to always try to find a way to thank people for having me in their life,” Parker says. “If there are opportunities or ways of connecting or having conversations or engaging in some way, I’m likely drawn to it — it’s just a lot of fun. We’re looking forward to saying hello to as many people as possible.”
The SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker warehouse sale runs from 9 am to 7 pm Tuesday, April 16 at the Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight Rd. Event is free and open to the public; register online here.