The Rose in Autumn

Manolo says, like the shoe-shaped Bat Signal, the plaintive cry went out from deep within the blogosphere, “Manolo, please explain to us this picture of Sarah Jessica Parker, as it has vexed us mightily.

Sarah Jessica Parker in Tokyo

Although the Manolo’s good friend Linda Grant would likely refer to this picture as “mutton dressed as lamb,” the Manolo would prefer to call it “The Rose in Autumn…Late Autumn.”

On the one of the hands, Sarah Jessica Parker looks as good as she possibly can: fit, happy, perhaps the too much eye makeup, and the too little powder, but otherwise vibrantly alive and shining with mature femininity.

On the other of the hands, this Vivienne Westwood dress is the decade too young for her. It is the lighthearted Englishy pattern with the handkerchief hem, more suitable for the milkmaid on the springtime bender in the city, than the worldly sophisticate at the movie premiere.

Perhaps it is meant to be in character for the fictional Carrie Bradshaw, who is the definition of over-the-top-ness, although, sadly, this dress does little good for the real Sarah Jessica Parker. (It should be noted that the whole point of Vivienne Westwood is over-the-top-ness, and to chose her is to go down the bright and flowery, gold-belted, spangly path to perdition.)

The second, and more perplexing matter, is the Charlotte Olypmia platform pumps, of which the Manolo’s friends have inquired “How? Why?”

The problem is that unless you are the Japanese Lolita Princess Fairy, you cannot credibly mix these outrageous shoes with anything that is itself outrageous. If these shoes are to be worn you must first be absolutely certain you can walk in them (which if anyone can walk in these it is the Sarah Jessica Parker) and secondly, they can only be paired with something that allows them to be the focus of the total outfit.

The Manolo would have advised the SJP against the dress, as lovely as it is. However, if she were intent on wearing the dress, the Manolo would have softened the makeup, put the hair down, removed the belt, ditched the necklace, and changed the shoes for something elegant and minimalistic, something that would be the next thing to barefeetedness, for this dress is adornment enough.

Of the course, the problem is that we are no longer in the era of elegant and minimalistic shoes. In the stead, now we are in the era of fantastical and expressive shoes-as-art-and-armor, heavy shoes with greaves and metal plates. While this is perhaps somewhat satisfying for the Manolo, such shoes preclude certain ornate dresses from being worn in seriousness.

More simply put, you cannot mix statement shoes with statement dresses.

And, finally, while Carrie Bradshaw/Sarah Jessica Parker might have been able to get away with this outfit at the peak of the previous decade of excessiveness, in this present somber age of anxiety and restraint, this richly frivolous getup is unsettling.