Commentary

There's No Business Like Shoe Business -- Even In Cannes


CANNES, FRANCE -- What happens when you put an actress whose defining role was playing a journalist in front of a roomful of journalists? When the actress is Sarah Jessica Parker and the setting is an impromptu press briefing following her conversation on “Creativity” with Cosmopolitan Editor in Chief Joanna Coles at the ad industry’s Lions Festival here you get a lot of questions about advertising, fashion, sex, social media, more sex, the future of journalism, even more sex, and of course, shoes.

It’s too bad Parker was on the receiving end, and that her “Sex and the City” character Carrie Bradshaw wasn’t doing the pitching, because the questions from the Cannes press corps were kind of lame. Case in point -- one Romanian journalist asked Parker what her “mission in life” was.

“One more very specific question,” Parker quipped sounding a bit astonished, then repeated almost to herself, “My mission in life?,” before rambling about being an “honorable person,” a “devoted mother” and a “loving wife.”

“I try to live by the golden rule,” she added, then turning the question over to Cosmo’s Coles, who looked down at the shocking pink stilettos adorning Parker’s feet and said, “My mission is to get me a pair of these shoes.”

The shoes, now doubt, were from Parker’s own line of high-end women’s footwear.

Asked how she is cultivating her “brand,” Parker shot a question back at the reporters, asking whether they meant her personal celebrity brand or her brand of shoes, but went on to answer the second part.

“I care a great deal about the product,” she said, adding, “I worry less about my image, and in the case of the shoes, I worry about every single detail.”

In fact, she said she designs every element of her shoes from concept to manufacturing and even the retail experience, visiting Nordstrom’s stores where they are sold to interact with both the sales people, as well as their customers.

But it was the changing nature of media that kept coming up during the briefing, and Parker kept reiterating that social media is changing everything so fast that the roles of everyone -- celebrities and even journalists -- are changing along with it.

Asked if she felt “columnists” like the Carrie Bradshaw character she played “still have the same power” they had when “Sex and the City” was being made, Parker tried to flip the question to actual journalist Coles, but said she wasn’t sure how Bradshaw’s columns about the sexual politics of men and women would play today when it’s a topic playing out on social media from everyday people.

“I think there is still enormous power of columnists in op-ed articles,” she said, turning to Coles, who added:  “I think that Carrie Bradshaw’s columns would still be read today, because good writing is invaluable.”

“I don’t think the columnist is dead,” Coles concluded, which is a good thing given that the magazine she edits still has an awful lot of them.
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