Candace Bushnell has a lifetime of shoe stories to tell — fittingly, as she’s the original Carrie Bradshaw.
The “Sex and the City” author, whose column and book inspired the series of the same name, has always had a penchant for footwear with added flair — from sleek Alexandre Birman boots to bejeweled Manolo Blahnik pumps. And whether she’s dressing for one of her “Is There Still Sex in the City?” performances or simply enjoying a night out, Bushnell always prioritizes movement.
“One of the things that I find in New York is that you will always end up walking more than you think you’re going to, so that’s always a factor,” the writer shares exclusively with FN. “You’ve got to be able to go up against stairs, over the rickety pavement to get to the car, get to the taxi.”
Since “Sex and the City” has continued its stylish legacy into the 2020’s (with new companion series “And Just Like That…” returning for season 2 in June), Bushnell’s glamorous heels have continued to take Manhattan. Regularly spotted at fashion shows for brands like Patbo, Dennis Basso and The Blonds with fashion stylist Nolan Meader, the author is currently starring in her returning “Is There Still Sex in the City?” show at Manhattan’s Café Carlyle — and working on her to-be-released memoirs.
Below, the fashion world’s favorite columnist shares her top shoe moments over the years.
How many shoes she really owns: “As I say in my show [“Is There Still Sex in the City?”], more than 20, but less than Imelda Marcos. I don’t know; not as many pairs of shoes as people would probably imagine, but I couldn’t even say. I don’t have that big shoe closet like Carrie Bradshaw.”
When her love of shoes began: “Ever since I was a little kid. Years ago, a friend of mine said that even in kindergarten, I had the best shoes. And she was jealous of my shoes!”
Storage strategy: “I don’t organize them. I know some people do the boxes, and they do photographs of the shoes. I don’t do that. I have stored some of them in boxes in the past. Now, I just pretty much have them on shelves.”
Favorite brands: Manolo Blahnik, Alexandre Birman, Jimmy Choo, Valentino, LoveShackFancy, Roberto Cavalli.
First steps in heels: “It was one particular pair of shoes that I remember. They were Charles Jourdan, and I probably got them in 1976 or 1977 — and I got them on sale. They were black suede with a little strip of gold and a little strip of silver. They were on sale for 80% off, and I bought them and they were one size too big — but I said, ‘I’m buying them anyway,’ which is what we do! I did wear them all over New York when I first came to New York, and then somebody stole them. I’ve had shoes stolen quite a bit, actually.”
Most comfortable heels: I do wear a lot of the Manolos on stage. I really don’t have any problem wearing them for a couple of hours, certainly.
Least comfortable heels: “Once, I bought a pair of bootlets, and there was a picture in the store of Nicole Kidman wearing them — they looked fabulous. I bought them, and for whatever reason they did not fit my feet. I think they were flat shoes — flat shoes can be just as uncomfortable as heels.
What makes a sexy shoe: “It probably has something to do with the shape of it; there’s just so many different shoe shapes and styles. There are close-toed shoes that are a little bit pointy. Boots can be very sexy, like over-the-knee boots. I’ve got a pair of [Alexandre] Birmans I just wear all through the winter.”
Favorite casual shoes: “I do have a few pairs of Lanvin sneakers which I just find really comfortable. I think I have about four pairs in different colors. At one time, I never ever would have worn a pair of sneakers. Now I walk a lot, and I think that after the pandemic people want to be comfortable.”
Night on the town: “I did discover this one style of Manolo. They’re maybe two inches high, and they have a pointy toe and they’re mostly slip-ons; I have those in a few different colors. They’re easy to walk in. One of the things that I find in New York is that you will always end up walking more than you think you’re going to, so that’s always a factor. You’ve got to be able to go up against stairs, over the rickety pavement to get to the car, get to the taxi.”
Most expensive shoes: “Probably the most expensive pair of shoes that I had would be a pair of boots that I got in the past. I think they were about $2,300; I really won’t spend that much on shoes [now].”
Least expensive shoes: “The least expensive pair of shoes would be a pair of sneakers that I wear to walk the dogs, wear on the beach and they’re probably $100. Shoes are not cheap!”
Biggest shoe regret: “A pair of gold boots, shoes that I bought at a whim, thinking I would wear. One time, I bought this pair of gold boots; they’re kind of fabulous, but they’re also a little bit Halloween costume. I don’t think I’ve ever worn them.”
Favorite shopping spots: “I live on the Upper East Side, so honestly I’m just very locavore. I just go down the street. I’m a big window shopper. Sometimes I will go to Bergdorf’s — that’s always a great place to go, the Bergdorf’s shoe department, especially when they have a sale. Mostly, I just go around my neighborhood.”
Aaron Royce is the Assistant Digital Editor for Footwear News, where he writes stories on celebrity style, brand collaborations and in-depth profile interviews. Prior to joining Footwear News, Royce wrote and interned for publications including PAPER, Grazia and the Daily Front Row. He currently holds a B.S. in mass communications from Virginia Commonwealth University.