We all know that Houston's hot. So during a whirlwind trip to the Bayou City for a personal appearance at Nordstrom, Sarah Jessica Parker decided her hotel room at the St. Regis was the perfect place to cool down with the Ice Bucket Challenge. (It's the same hotel where teeny boppers are staking out because One Direction is rumored to be staying there before Friday night's concert; too bad she didn't challenge them.)
"I thought how wonderful to say, 'Not only do I need ice, but I'd like for you to dump it on my head,' " Parker said.
"Typically when you check into a hotel, the bellman asks if you'd like ice for your room. I thought how wonderful to say, 'Not only do I need ice, but I'd like for you to dump it on my head,' " Parker said. "It was incredibly warm when we arrived and I just thought it was a funny, amusing way of accepting the challenge and I enjoyed it completely."
(Actually, she revealed, a hotel employee named Lana did the honors, pouring icy water on her head in several videos posted on Instagram.)
The actress/fashion designer and her crew, including her business partner, Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus III, a San Antonio native, headed to Ninfa's on Navigation, where despite her star status, waited for a table along with other diners Wednesday night. She gorged herself on a Tex-Mex feast and posted the pictures to prove it.
"It's a hard name to say, an odd name with those two consonants together — Ninfa's — but the food is fantastic and the wait staff was so sweet," she said.
Parker needed the sustenance on Thursday afternoon when she got down to business to tout her shoe collection and rekindle a bond with her incredibly loyal fans, some of whom waited in line for more than 12 hours to spend a few minutes with her. She signed shoes and met with customers at the Galleria store for more than two hours, often engaging in deep conversation and thanking them for coming out to see her.
"The desire for love, for home, for contentment, to remain independent is something that's familiar to a lot of women," Parker says.
"I was sitting in the (Galleria) parking garage at 5:15 a.m. in this humidity (waiting to get into the store), but it's worth it, " explained Kristie McDonald, who was first in line, wearing a white Halston dress identical to one that Parker wore in the hit series Sex and the City. "She is a fashion icon and my idol. I just want to grow up to be like her."
Mother/daughter duo Denise and Harriet Bryant were thrilled to be near the front of the line, too. "She's had such an impact on women of our generation," said Harriet, a college student. "You feel like you could just hang out with her, " said Denise. "We both identify with her."
Dressed in an edgy Tracy Reese snakeskin print dress, a pair of Gina buckled booties from her collection and an ancient Egyptian temporary tattoo on the inside of her forearm (she changes them daily during the tour), Parker seemed genuinely touched by the outpouring of affection from fans. She didn't hurry them through the line as most celebrities do and engaged them in conversation — some serious, some fun.
"Go out and have a cocktail," Parker urged McDonald, who had waited such a long time for the short visit, as McDonald walked away.
Having met with fans in five cities, including Dallas, when the SJP Collection launched in March, and another three cities this week, including Houston, Parker says she's learned a lot from her customers.
"Nordstrom is famously good at listening to the customer. I've learned how to have it not be personal but have it be really constructive — the good and bad — and to really listen to what she needs and wants and to meet her expectations and standards and still do what we want to do," Parker said. "The whole experience has been invaluable."
Stylish yet practical
The SJP Collection includes a lot of stylish yet practical shoes — no platforms or sky-high stilettos —with a hint of pizzazz. Shoes range in price from $285 to $695; five new handbag styles for fall are from $220-$495. The fall collection includes pumps, booties and riding boots in French navy, red, olive and coral. Among her favorites is the Serge suede bootie in olive ($455), named for her hairstylist Serge Normant, and the Rachel pump ($355), a sexy version of the slingback named for her sister.
She says that the odds for a third Sex and the City movie are about 50/50.
Despite her reputation in the classic series as a "shoeaholic," Parker says she doesn't have an overwhelming number of shoes in her closet. "I keep everything, so I have probably a lot of pairs I've accumulated over the years because of my work. But I'm not a great shopper."
She says that the odds for a third Sex and the City movie are about 50/50. "The truth is I don't know. The timing has to be right, the story has to be worth telling," she said.
But she understands why the television show, which ended a decade ago, endures. "The storytelling was so wonderful. It described so many people's lives, obviously in a more colorful way than most us lead our lives, but the desire for love, for home, for contentment, to remain independent is something that's familiar to a lot of women. And the writing — they just told the stories with humor and kindness and honesty. I think it touched people."
See SJP's Ice Bucket Challenge: