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Sarah Jessica Parker may be starring in “Divorce,” the HBO comedy series, but in real life she’s designing bridal ready-to-wear.
In collaboration with Gilt, on Tuesday Parker will exclusively launch SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Bridal, marking the brand’s entry into bridal ready-to-wear. As part of the launch, Gilt will also offer 15 exclusive styles from the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker footwear collection that were designed to complement the new line and create head-to-toe bridal looks.
The collection, which is comprised of 10 styles, is designed to outfit a woman for a variety of occasions, from her bridal shower through her wedding reception. Styles include a mix of classic dresses and gowns, modern bodysuits, full skirts and a jumpsuit. The color palette includes traditional bridal white and black, in addition to blush, poppy, light gray and blue.
Designed in collaboration with Gilt, the collection was produced in New York using fabrics such as cashmere and stretch crepe sourced from Spain, Italy and France. Details such as delicate bows, cutouts, whimsical feathers, intricate embroidery and hand-stitched beading are evident throughout the offering.
“Not only is Sarah Jessica Parker’s style known around the world, her point of view is one-of-a-kind,” said Tom Ott, chief merchant of Gilt. “Sarah Jessica brings her impeccable taste and fashion sensibility to life in this collection. We think our customers will be delighted with the offering which is stylish and well-priced in the bridal category.”
As part of the bridal launch, Gilt will also offer 15 exclusive styles from the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker footwear line. Well-known silhouettes including the Cosette and Fawn will be available in exclusive colorways and heel heights. The shoes range in size from 35 to 40 and are priced between $350 and $485.
Coinciding with the bridal launch, Gilt City will feature offers from some of Parker’s favorite places in the New York City to help brides prepare for their big day, such as Serge Normant Salon, Leather Spa, Lars Nord Tailor, and Tarallucci e Vino.
The SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Bridal Collection ranges in price from $295 for the sleeveless bodysuit to $2,395 for the embroidered gown. Sizes range from extra small to large for the bodysuits and 0 to 14 for all other pieces.
When asked why she wanted to design a bridal collection, Parker told WWD, “I didn’t, really. They came to us.”
When she launched her shoe business four years ago, she had a small pop-up in New York, which was how she launched the brand — an exclusive with Nordstrom.
“We kept having these wonderful women of all ages and backgrounds and sizes and shapes, they kept telling us they were buying for their wedding and they were not buying what would be conventionally thought of as a bridal shoe. We recognized that there was this space where brides were looking for something that felt different, that suggested who they were. So we were encouraged to create a bridal collection within our collection, so in those deliveries we always have a bridal shoe. But people tend to use our shoes anyway outside of that for that special occasion.”
She said because of that, Gilt, which is part of the HBC portfolio of brands, came to her and asked if she wanted to do this collaboration.
Parker described the looks as “very, very simple.” She said there’s a strong emphasis on bodysuits, which she thinks are flattering. And the colors are simple. “The intent is they should be usable outside of that special occasion. Whether you’re the person walking down the aisle, or you’re attending, these are all pieces that should be relevant in your closet,” said Parker.
“There are some pieces that feel more decadent and more specifically bridal. There’s no law saying they’re not appropriate for many other important occasions as well,” she said.
For now, Parker said the Gilt collaboration is a one season deal. “The interesting thing about Gilt is that it’s there until it’s gone. And the shoes are so pretty. They’re really lovely,” she said.
Speaking of shoes, Parker said her SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker pop-up store in New York at 6 West 52nd Street is still up and running. “It’s temporary permanent and permanently temporary,” she said. “Our landlords would like us to stay. It’s a very interesting location, as you know. It’s a little bit off, we’re not right on either avenue. We have the 21 Club across the street, but that’s a particular person. We’re having to be very creative with how we market. We have no marketing dollars. We’re really relying on Instagram and that return customer. That customer who walks in for the first time, and then tells her colleagues and other friends who are visiting,” she said.
At the pop-up, one can find Parker at the point of sale, in the stock room and on her hands and knees helping customers try on shoes. “Because the more you hear about the brand, the more you know what customers need, what customers want, how are they fitting in our shoes, when you’re hearing people saying, ‘These are the most comfortable shoes,’ and you know it’s a point of pride and you’ve been working on that, all of our shoes are handmade in Italy. When you’re doing that and you’re in front of them, and you’re there when someone returns a shoe, and you’re hearing about why. All the billions of dollars in the world and all the billboards in Times Square can not make up for that,” she said. “And I love it.”
Does she love it more than acting?
“It’s completely different. It’s much easier, in a way. Also, it’s an opportunity to thank people, to say hello, to say ‘You’re part of this’ and when I’m acting and go to a premiere, or have a big premiere, I don’t get to walk the rope line and say thank you to everybody. I don’t get to say, ‘Because of you, I’m in this store and I have this opportunity.” I feel that people don’t get it. They feel that social media is all the answers. ‘Branding, branding, and don’t expand too fast.’ And look at all the cautionary tales, and learn from people who have done it well. And cultivate a customer loyalty,” she said.
Someday, Parker would love to expand her own company, which launched its first collection in early 2014, into more categories, but she’s taking a cautious approach.
“I have an interest in shoring up that shoe base for us. We have a small bag collection. We’re working on doing better by that. They sell well, and we also know where we need to improve. There are always categories that are interesting that we recognize are promising, but those take investment. We have to look at whether we want to invest in that, or put our money toward this. George [Malkemus V] and I own the company, so it’s only us investing in it,” she said. She would love to do a children’s footwear line (mommy and me) and her business doesn’t have e-commerce yet.
Parker said the Gilt collection will go into her own stores eventually. “There’s an embargo because it’s sold exclusively on Gilt. Then we can integrate it. We’re happy to point people toward Gilt,” she said.
Meantime, Parker continues to have a busy acting career. She said she’s pleased with how “Divorce” is going, noting that there could very well be another season. “We’re talking about it right now literally,” she said. And, in her new movie, “Blue Night,” she plays a jazz pop singer with a fruitful and challenging career. She receives a grim diagnosis at the beginning of the movie and it’s 24 hours in her day.
Another project she’s working on is her imprint at Crown Publishing Group’s Penguin Random House called SJP for Hogarth, where she publishes literary fiction. Her first book, “A Place for Us,” by Fatima Farheen Mirza, will be published in June.
Finally, turning to her fellow “Sex and the City” actor and friend Cynthia Nixon’s run for governor, Parker thinks she makes a strong candidate. “There are a million reasons I think she’d be good. She and I have been friends since we were 11. She’s a born-and-raised New Yorker. She’s a product of the best of our public school system — Hunter College. She’s been an activist since she was a little girl. Raised by a single mother. She has cared deeply and has been involved, and she and I have had lots of interesting conversations about our public schools and public housing. She’s interested in the gubernatorial seat because she knows where those money decisions are made. She has lots of questions about infrastructure here in the city, as well as upstate. I think she sees that there are things that can be improved upon and are different ideas than our governor’s.”
Will she be campaigning for Nixon?
“When my schedule allows and if I can be helpful and not harmful. She’s still developing policy and we’re all watching and waiting and I’m asking her questions. I think it’s a very exciting time. It’s a primary and that’s what primaries are about. We’re always better for having conversations, even when they’re hard. And even when they’re uncomfortable, and sometimes they fracture us for a minute. But that’s OK.”