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Sarah Jessica Parker Was ‘Embarrassed’ by the Idea of Naming Her Shoe Line SJP

The ever-humble actor/fashion mogul spoke frankly about her experiences at a talk on Tuesday night.
Sarah Jessica Parker at a SJP Collection event at Nordstrom in San Juan, Puerto Rico last month. Photo: GV Cruz/Stringer/Getty Images

Sarah Jessica Parker at a SJP Collection event at Nordstrom in San Juan, Puerto Rico last month. Photo: GV Cruz/Stringer/Getty Images

There are few celebrities as good at branding themselves as Sarah Jessica Parker, who has taken her "Sex and the City" fame — and fashion acumen — and spun it into a compelling, authentic relationship with her fans. If there’s anyone who feels "real" to her fleet of followers, it's Parker. She doesn’t front.

That’s why it was only a little surprising to hear that the actor isn’t thrilled by the name of her Italian-made shoe line, SJP, which debuted at Nordstrom in 2014. “I begged everybody [not to call it that], but Nordstrom thought it was the right thing to do,” Parker told InStyle Editorial Director Ariel Foxman at a dinner celebrating the top 50 women in brand marketing on Tuesday. “It embarrassed me. I actually didn’t like it, but they talked me into it.”

The reluctant style icon, speaking to an audience that included execs from Tiffany & Co., Marc Jacobs, Victoria’s Secret and Kenneth Cole, expounded on the process of creating the line, whose co-investor is Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus. Just a little of a year into SJP’s life on the sales floor, “It’s 60 percent instinct, 40 percent trying to pay attention to the numbers,” Parker said. “There are misses, and it just kills you.”

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The actor, whose single-camera comedy "Divorce" was just picked up by HBO, also spoke frankly with Foxman about missteps she’s made throughout her fashion career — including her ill-fated stint as chief creative officer of Halston Heritage, which she compared to a bad boyfriend. “When I would date a fellow when I was single, and my friends would say, ‘He’s horrible, he comes with all sorts of warning signs. There’s a forcefield around him,’ I would say, ‘I can fix him.’ That’s how I felt about the Halston brand,” she admitted. “I couldn’t imagine not being able to bring some peace and harmony and hopefully some success. But the truth of the matter was that there was a culture there that I just couldn’t... It’s like walking into a really old, foreign land and saying, ‘I’m going to teach you very quickly to behave just like me and it’s going to come very naturally to you.’”

While Parker said the end result was disappointing, “It was an education I could have never planned or hoped for or achieved in that amount of time. I’m grateful.”

Tuesday night's event, hosted by a professional group called Brand Innovators, drew a consortium of marketers that spent $11.1 billion on advertising in 2014. So it made sense that Time Inc., the publisher of InStyle, was happy to sponsor it for the second year in a row. While the industry is reeling from the news, InStyle experienced its own shakeup on Tuesday with the sudden departure of publisher Nina Lawrence. So, how does the glossy plan on powering through? "We’re listening to our reader — our user — and making sure that we’re meeting her wherever she goes,” Foxman said. "If that’s in print, it’s in print. If it’s where she’s shopping, we want to make sure we’re providing service and ease there.” 

Homepage photo: Andrew Toth/Stringer/Getty Images