Her own design experience has only added to the respect she has for such friends. “When I started the shoes, people said, ‘That must be so hard!’ But building a collection of clothing is very different to building a collection of shoes. The ready-to-wear calendar is crazy.”
She’s right, but it’s not just the schedule: it takes a great deal to be successful in the fashion industry these days. Selling dresses with a $1,000 price tag doesn’t guarantee that designers themselves are financially secure. “My heart goes out to designers,” says Parker. “The expectations, the demands they put on themselves. They put everything on the line. It takes fortitude to survive it. I feel so sad about L’Wren [Scott],” she continues of the designer who committed suicide this year. “I have friends who struggle for no good reason; incredibly talented people who have to fight for attention. For the second year in a row I visited the MoMA for my birthday. My husband was out of town, so James and I went to see the Gauguin exhibit. People say it’s the greatest
exhibit of his work ever put together. But he died penniless. There was no recognition of his work by the art market. I mean, Gauguin! This is the common story with artists. Everybody is struggling to tell their story. But [designers] have this tenacity to go back, max out their credit card, show 10 looks instead of 30, whatever it takes.”
Parker does not say anything without meaning. She does not throw words around: each one is delivered with passion and honesty. It’s one of the most appealing things about her. You get the sense that worrying about these embattled designers may keep her awake tonight. “I could honestly spend my whole life worrying about people,” she admits. “I worry too
“I don’t SHOW off, I don’t TRAVEL with BODYGUARDS, I don’t live a GLAMOROUS life. I’m afraid of that”
much; a lot of things make me really sad. I am not a sad person, but I feel sad for situations people are in. You just can’t fix them all.”
The week of our lunch, Parker found herself with worries of her own, in the eye of a media storm. A woman, who shall remain nameless because the actress does not wish for her to be targeted, sent a particularly vicious message via Twitter; a note of less than 140 characters that called into question the parentage of Parker’s adored twin daughters [the girls were carried by a surrogate, but Parker has generously and honestly stated that they were conceived from her egg and Broderick’s sperm]. I venture that something about the medium means people do not give thought to the words they hurl out into the ether. Parker is unconvinced.
“I don’t think you can be like that without thinking about what you are saying. Other people can be mean, and that’s something I just have to make peace with. That was my worry before engaging in social media; I was afraid of it. I see mean
stuff every day: when I look at Twitter I scroll with one eye open and one closed. That particular day, it was just one of the things I saw. I kept scrolling and then I was like, ‘Wait a minute, did she just say that?’ I went back and I thought, ‘Well, this isn’t unhealthy paranoia, this is absolutely conscious. This was a choice.’ She, not subtly at all, said that my children are not my children. There have been a few – let’s say half a dozen – times in my career when I have wanted to respond. I don’t want to encourage people picking on her, because that’s no better. But I wrote back, ‘What? Like, is this fun?’ She never responded and deleted it.
“And what is it about me? I am not somebody who shows off her good fortune; I don’t travel with bodyguards, I don’t live a very glamorous life – I am afraid of all that,” Parker continues. “I don’t talk about my marriage; I am circumspect about my children. I sometimes regret that people don’t understand all that I do and all that I am because I am embarrassed to talk about what I’ve accomplished – I think it sounds self-centric and