Photo: Jake Rosenberg of The Coveteur
Gayle King loves shoes! She loves gazing at them in shop windows; she loves that moment when the salesperson lifts the lid off the box for the big reveal; she loves discovering a little extra space in which she can flex her toes; she loves how her heels feel all safe and snug as her foot burrows in; she loves the zippers, the buckles, the laces; she loves the squish of suede, the smell of imported leather, the bonus of a drawstring shoe bag. Regular readers may recall that she designed her closet to hold upwards of 13,687,000 pairs of boots, pumps, platforms, peep toes, espadrilles, wedges, sneakers, Mary Janes, T-straps, stilettos and the occasional clogs.
Adam Glassman, O's creative director, loves Gayle. Okay, he's not particularly crazy about the clogs; in fact, he'd sell his soul to get her into sharp-looking flats from time to time, but he has come to accept her, peds and all. He wants only the best for his friend's feet, and today that means one thing: a visit with Sarah Jessica Parker—Emmy winner, fashion icon shoe goddess.
While Sarah Jessica's alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw, may have gone looking for love in all the wrong places, she did it in all the right footwear. For six seasons on HBO's Sex and the City, we rooted for her success, we applauded her guts, and we envied her lust-filled relationships with Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, and the one who carried her through nearly every broken engagement and book tour, every kinky fling and co-op sale, every bruising affair and Hamptons fiasco: Manolo Blahnik.
Having cemented her shoe cred, Sarah Jessica has had myriad opportunities to put her name on a line of her own. But she couldn't bring herself to endorse something she wouldn't actually wear, nor did she want to ask people to open their wallets for products that were mass-produced in China. Enter George Malkemus, CEO of Manolo Blahnik USA. "Sarah called me and said she'd been thinking a lot about shoes." Malkemus smiles and adds, "Before she could finish that sentence, I said, 'Be in my office tomorrow morning.'"
On February 28, you can see the results of their meeting and subsequent partnership, exclusively at Nordstrom. But Adam wanted to treat Gayle to a sneak peek at SJP, Sarah Jessica's first foray into shoes, with a guided tour from the very passionate new designer herself. You see, Adam understands that, at least from the ankles down, these women are members of the same tribe.
And so it comes to pass that Gayle and Adam, Sarah Jessica and George meet at a hip yet cozy, shoe-filled suite inside New York City's Crosby Street Hotel. Gayle has that giddy kid-at-Christmas look that, in her case, comes with the promise of brand-new shoes. She enters the room in a state best described as frenzied bliss.
"Say hello to the girls," Adam announces by way of introduction.
Sarah Jessica laughs. "Yes, these are all the girls I didn't get to have," she says, pointing to Inez, Fawn, Iva, Ina, Tanny, Bobbie, Brigitte, and, of course, Carrie—shoes she's named after people who inspire her.
"By any chance is there a Gayle in the group?" Ms. King asks, floating a trial balloon.
"She'll name a clog in your honor," Adam answers, bursting it.
"Silvia was for an A.R. Gurney play I did years ago," the designer explains, holding up an aquamarine suede high heel topped with a demure little bow. "And Jill is my best friend from L.A.," she says, reaching for a strappy crisscross look in raspberry champagne.
"Very pleased to meet you, Jill," says Gayle.
"Oh, and here's Slim," Sarah Jessica says, showing Gayle a sling-back with lines as elegant and sophisticated as the socialite Slim Keith. "I really wanted to bring back the single-soled shoe with this collection," she tells Gayle, "so there isn't a clunky black pair in the bunch."
Next: "I feel like I've died and gone to shoe heaven."
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