Walk like Carrie Bradshaw
A Hollywood star's shoe line is inspired by her most iconic role, and she's keen to see how Mumbai's ladies embrace her heels
When one door closes, a shoebox opens." The words famously uttered by Carrie Bradshaw are as much an attitude as they are an affirmation of the belief that, shoes can change the world.
Well, can they?
"I think better in heels," Jayna Lakhiani says, fresh on the brink of introducing SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker brand of shoes to India under her company Vivre by Jayna. "Carrie shares a fun bond with fashion. I relate to Sarah's Sex and the City character in the way that she approaches fashion—lightly, with humour—I think we all should."
Actor Sarah Jessica Parker played Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. Pic/ Getty Images
The Hollywood star took her small-screen altar ego's (a fashion columnist who writes for a fictional newspaper, The New York Star) flair for footwear a few notches higher when in 2014, she launched a line of shoes with footwear master craftsman George Malkemus III. Available widely across America, the UK, Canada, Australia and the Middle East markets, SJP now came to India last month when Lakhiani hosted a pop-up at a five-star address in Worli, marking the label's soft launch. She hopes to take it to New Delhi next month, followed by Bengaluru. "I felt there was gap in India for comfortable shoes, and these are beautifully handcrafted in Tuscany," Lakhiani, 43, shares.
The entrepreneur's first introduction to Parker's brand was in 2015 and it was by happenstance. While on a flight back to Dubai, she received a call about being chosen as the Most Stylish Woman of the Year at the Masala Awards, an event that celebrates the achievements of the Asian community in the UAE. "And I thought, oh my God! I need a new pair of shoes. I rushed to Harvey Nicks [Harvey Nichols]. The first pair that caught my eye was from SJP. Perfect heels, perfect colour, perfect size," she remembers. It's only later that she discovered that the heels, her first SJP pair, was called Carrie, a pointy-toe T-strap pump named after the HBO series hit character.
Lakhiani spent 18 years of her early life in Jakarta, where she was born and raised. She moved to London briefly to acquire a degree in communications from Richmond College. She returned to Jakarta, got married and moved to Dubai, where she has spent the last 20 years. And although she loves fashion, somehow, it never featured on her list of career aspirations. "I interviewed country ambassadors who were posted in Jakarta for a national newspaper, and when I moved to Dubai, I wrote a fun piece on off-roading [driving on sand]." That's the last time she wrote before retreating to a married life and raising two daughters.
It was a self-designed kaftan that Lakhiani wore to an event in Dubai that caught the attention of a local storeowner, who commissioned her to create a line. These retailed at Sauce and Tigerlily. "I co-founded the label, Petit A Petit; an assortment of everyday clothing at affordable prices. But I had to discontinue it when my family moved to Mumbai."
Her second introduction to SJP was through a friend whose agency was responsible for bringing the brand to the Middle East. "She told me that Sarah [Jessica Parker] is keen on exploring the Indian market, but before launching it in a brick-and-mortar format, she wanted to test the market with pop-ups. I thought, every time I need fun shoes or a festive pair, there's hardly anything available in Mumbai."
So far, Lakhiani says Mumbai has been encouraging in response to the collection (Rs 28,000 onwards). It loves bling and colour as much as comfort and competent prices. The India Edit collection is "specifically bling", she says, "and now that the holiday season is around the corner, it will be perfect. Mumbai is a lot like Manhattan. Its ladies also like to have fun with footwear."
Her first lesson while doing business here was that the city's women have small feet. "I was thinking more in the range of 37+, so I got a lot of those. But they wanted more of 35, and I had to take customised orders. Delhi has bigger feet, I think!"
And because Mumbai also loves Bollywood, Lakhiani collaborated with young actor Ananya Pandey for the debut launch. She says, "Things here work with and around Bollywood."
What's in a name?
Sarah Jessica Parker names her shoes according to regions they retail in. It's Hessa, Amal, Jamila, Kamila, Esma, Anyra for the Middle Eastern markets, while the same shoe styles are named Windsor, Celine, Minnie, Allure, Tartt, Nirvana and Rampling for the West. "Sarah is open to following the tradition in India. It helps for customers to relate to the brand, it's like a connection, a bond," adds Lakhiani.
Each SJP pair features the signature grosgrain ribbon detail on the back seam of the heel. It's an ode to her mother who made a young Parker wear grosgrain ribbons in her braided hair every day
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