AnnaSophia Robb meets Jane Keltner de Valle at Ferragamo’s Italian palazzo as she prepares to step into the beloved shoes of Carrie Bradshaw.
When I meet AnnaSophia on a summer evening in Florence, Italy, at the opening of an exhibition celebrating Marilyn Monroe’s relationship with Ferragamo, the eighteen-year-old actress is glowing and glamorous in a printed silk dress and crystal-bedecked satin heels. She is also winded as she recalls her grand entrance seconds earlier: Walking the red-carpet-lined cobblestones to the palazzo, all dressed up in her Ferragamo finery … she fell flat on her face. “It was quite an experience!” she says, simultaneously blushing and laughing. More than that, it was a classic Carrie Bradshaw moment. I am charmed.
The original Sex and the City started airing during my days as a fashion magazine intern. Every Friday, my boss would invite us into her office to watch Carrie’s escapades in fashion, career, and romance. The show turned Sarah Jessica Parker into a style icon. Just as New York City played a key supporting role, so did her enviable wardrobe and legendary shoe collection. I’ll never forget the episode when, after a pair of her beloved Manolo Blahniks went missing at a friend’s baby shower, she “registered” at the designer’s boutique. (Those were the days when Manolos were “only” $485, but I digress.)
When I learned that AnnaSophia had been cast as a high-school-age Carrie for the much-anticipated prequel series, The Carrie Diaries, I was eager to test her style chops. (For the record, she’s already gotten Parker’s blessing: “She wrote me a note encouraging me.”) And what better occasion than a trip to Italy to visit the headquarters of the original shoemaker to the stars? In the pre-Blahnik, pre-Louboutin 1950s and ’60s, Hollywood legends like Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Greta Garbo all got a leg up in Salvatore Ferragamo’s pumps. So timeless were his designs that many of the brand’s classic styles, such as the Vara bow pump, are still best sellers today (here’s looking at you, Alexa Chung!).
AnnaSophia’s relationship with the house (which now boasts a full ready-to-wear line, too) began not with a shoe but a dress. “It was the day before we were going to start filming the pilot—don’t worry, I got plenty of rest,” she teases. “When I saw it on the hanger, I thought, Hmm, not sure about this. It had a tiger print and was quite loud. But as soon as I tried it on, I was just like, Wow.” She wore it to the NYC launch for Ferragamo’s Signorina fragrance, and a love affair was born.
When we reunite the day after the opening, AnnaSophia is enthusiastic to explore the ancient Italian city and has even brought her mother along for the adventure. We begin by strolling past some of the prime tourist attractions (the Medici palace, the Uffizi Gallery), before heading to the Ponte Vecchio, an old bridge lined with jewelry stores. AnnaSophia and her mother are in search of matching Florentine coin rings. “It’s kind of touristy, but it’s a nice memory of the trip,” she tells me upon finding them. Other purchases include a leather coat, leather gloves, and stationery.
Of course, we save the best for last. After lunch at a trattoria, we pick up gelato for the walk to Ferragamo, where the actress spends a good hour or two combing through the bow flats and platform pumps. “Shoes finalize a look,” she says. “They help you create a stance. If you’re wearing a heel, you have more sway.” Legend has it that Monroe used to shorten the heel of one shoe for a sexier walk. While AnnaSophia isn’t considering such extremes, she’s eager to explore new looks. “I like being able to play around with different styles,” she says. She leaves Ferragamo with several pairs of shoes in hand—and one on foot. Something tells me Carrie Bradshaw would approve.