It’s been two decades since the first episode of “Sex and the City” introduced us to the inimitable Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker), whose penchant for fashion was well-documented in a self-proclaimed $40,000 closet that housed names from Alaïa to Zac Posen.
Despite the many designers who found a home in her wardrobe, one name stood out: Manolo Blahnik. The footwear legend, who for 40 years has created some of the world’s most coveted shoes, was also present in Carrie’s most memorable fashion moments, including a mugging by a man with highbrow sartorial knowledge, an “urban shoe myth” in the form of Campari Mary Janes found in Vogue‘s fashion closet and, of course, Carrie’s unforgettable courthouse wedding to Mr. Big (Chris Noth).
And while there were many standout styles, it was the Hangisi pump that stole the show. The stilettos boast a soaring 4.5 inches, featuring a jewel buckle, almond toe and royal blue satin upper — and they’ve served as footwear goals for a generation of fashionistas, including yours truly.
Now, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the TV series, I couldn’t help but wonder: What would it be like to walk in Carrie Bradshaw’s shoes?
So I took the iconic Hangisi pumps for a night out on the town — and, boy, did New Yorkers notice.
Like Carrie, I have a longstanding relationship with heels, having bought my first pair in high school to elevate an incredibly tiresome plaid uniform. I now wear them regularly, upping my eye level a solid 3 inches about 5 days out of the week.
This time, I slipped them on before heading out to Bryant Park on a Saturday afternoon, wearing a navy-and-white striped romper and minimal accessories (pictured below). The stares and comments were inevitable (and, unfortunately, the catcalls more so), but what I didn’t expect was the ability to walk on uneven ground without teetering left and right.
From there, I took a stroll down to Greeley Square on 32nd Street, where I met my winsome plus-one for the evening. We took the train — with a successful subway grate moment à la RiRi — and emerged on Prince Street to take another half-mile walk to our destination, where we met a mutual friend for a birthday toast. Although majority of my journalist buddies didn’t immediately recognize the heels, they managed to attract a lot of attention, prompting questions about their cost. (Answer: A whopping $995, or one month’s rent in a shared 3-bedroom in Brooklyn.)
The real test run (no pun intended) followed, as our group trekked a full mile to an offbeat tiki lounge in the East Village. Although the neighborhood is my least favorite in all of Manhattan, the walk itself presented an opportunity for me to truly discover the masterpiece that is the Hangisi — and I was thoroughly grateful. We encountered cracked sidewalks and steep ramps, but not once did the shoes give way thanks to their ultra-supportive heel tips.
For full disclosure, I didn’t get to hail a cab like Carrie. Instead, my ever-chivalrous date ordered us an Uber, which was unusually upgraded to a luxury black car. And when we arrived at an Italian restaurant near Washington Square Park sans reservation, we managed to score the best seat in its lantern-filled patio, next to a picturesque cascading fountain. I was convinced that the embellished Manolos were my good-luck charm — and with scores of Swarovski crystals adorning each shoe, they quite literally were.
It wasn’t until 11 p.m. that the shoes eventually came off. After our dessert at a nearby confectionery and a trip to Port Authority, a light rain had descended upon the city. I swapped the delicate Hangisi pumps for a pair of canvas sneakers that were evidently not as chic, but also less likely to suffer damage during inclement weather.
And, sure, I had begun to blister at this point, but I had also never agreed more with Carrie when she famously declared, “These shoes pinch my feet, but I love them!”
Ultimately, I found that the Hangisi was the perfect statement shoe: fabulous, versatile and surprisingly comfortable considering their imposing height. Although they come in a rainbow of colors for every wearer, the royal blue will always be the first to win me over — and, one day, I just might be able to afford my very own pair. Because as Carrie herself once said, “The fact is: Sometimes it’s hard to walk in a single woman’s shoes. That’s why we need really special ones now and then — to make the walk a little more fun.”
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