Retailers Ringing Up “Sex” Sales

NEW YORK — The frenzy surrounding “Sex and the City: The Movie” might be cooling, but the film’s impact on fashion could extend well into next year.

The movie debuted on May 30, when swarms of devoted fans waited in line for hours to get a first look. It earned more than $55 million in its first weekend and has brought in nearly $135 million to date. While the momentum has slowed in recent weeks, retailers large and small have been working to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the shoes, clothes and accessories worn by the four leading ladies.

Bergdorf Goodman’s Fifth Avenue windows, unveiled after the film’s release, are driving sales. The windows spotlight an exact replica of Carrie Bradshaw’s massive closet and a single pair of blue satin Manolo Blahnik jeweled pumps that play a key role in the film. They retail for $945, though on-screen, Carrie Bradshaw quoted their price as roughly half that.

Part of Blahnik’s spring ’09 collection, the pump will arrive in stores in July. But Bergdorf customers have already gone to extremes to ensure they will get a pair, according to Ed Burstell, SVP and GMM of beauty, jewelry and accessories at Bergdorf.

“Dozens of people have been coming in,” said Burstell. Customers who sign up on a waiting list are guaranteed a pair once the shoes arrive — a luxury the store only offers for special or one-of-a-kind items. “We even have people calling to double check that their name is on the list. You would not believe it. It’s been amazing for the whole category.”

Neiman Marcus is also seeing demand for the Manolo Blahnik shoes, as well as other footwear in the film. “It’s been quite exciting,” said Neiman Marcus CEO Burt Tansky. “It’s definitely translated [into sales].”

For his part, Manolo Blahnik told Footwear News he had no idea the heels would be at the center of the movie’s most memorable moments. “The ‘SATC’ team worked on development of some styles together with our New York office, but it was all top secret,” he said. “The shoe [was] one of many picked up by [Patricia] Field for use in the film, [and] to be honest, I had no idea whatsoever that the shoe was going to have such a big part in the film. I was quite surprised and touched when I saw it. I really didn’t expect it.”

Other key looks from the film are also making waves at retail. Just down the street from Bergdorf, at Mikimoto, the jewelry maker designated a prime spot in its window for Carrie’s pearl necklace. “People have been coming in, and we’ve done some business based on the [reaction] to the movie,” said Maureen Gribbin, director of advertising and public relations for Mikimoto. “This movie allowed [customers] to think of Mikimoto in a more relevant way.”

But at Steven Dann’s shoe boutique in Great Neck, N.Y., movie-themed store windows have drawn attention of a different kind. Dann, who placed posters featuring the word “sex” in his store windows after the film’s release, was asked by local authorities to remove the signs, which he has yet to do. “I didn’t know it was a crime,” he joked. “I guess this town is a bit conservative.”

Dann said business has been booming since the movie was released. Situated in a strip mall just a block from a movie theater where the film is playing, the store has sold 18 pairs of the $795 Giuseppe Zanotti fish-bone sandals since the film’s debut. Dann said regular customers, as well as newcomers, are snapping up the shoes, which are featured in a particularly racy scene in the movie.

“I had stopped eating sushi for a while,” quipped designer Giuseppe Zanotti, “but after that scene I started having Japanese food again.

“It’s been a fantastic surprise,” Zanotti said of his shoe’s cameo. “Patricia Field is always the best: amazing styling throughout the movie.”

Dann said he also pre-sold out of the Givenchy sandals that Sarah Jessica Parker wore to the New York premiere and just reordered the style. The buzz surrounding another hot sandal from the film, the Dior gladiators, hit fever pitch even before the opening, thanks to paparazzi shots taken during filming.

“I brought [the Dior sandals] to set because I knew [Sarah Jessica Parker] would love them,” said Field. “She wanted to wear those same shoes in nearly every scene, but I told her, ‘This is Carrie! Carrie doesn’t do that!’”

The Judith Leiber bejeweled cupcake bag carried by Charlotte’s daughter in the film and retailing for a sweet $4,295, has also been a big hit at Steven Dann. Dann has sold eight since the film’s debut, in addition to another hot Leiber item — the $1,495 satin-and-crystal clutch that Kristen Davis wore to the London premiere. So far, he has sold four.

In Los Angeles, Evelyn Ungari of Diavolina is not stocking any of the styles seen in the film, but thinks the movie could be influential in driving trends. “I’m hoping girls get out again and start wearing heels. I think they’re going to be into the sexy shoes now.”

While Charles David wasn’t featured in the film, the brand was still determined to get in on the action. The company is touting its Bracelet style as a “Sex and the City”-type shoe. During opening weekend, Charles David sent an e-mail blast to its customers introducing the 4.5-inch platform heel — which comes in gray, silver, gold and black suede — and since then, the shoe has sold out in several of Charles David’s 25 stores across the U.S.

Field, herself, also unveiled her new collection for Payless ShoeSource, just in time for the movie’s opening.


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