I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing cobblers glue.
I’m in Virginia now, and although the worst seems to be over, the whole DC Metro area got pounded like British currency. My fella, Hot Latin Boy, is holding down the fort at Plumcake Cottage in Baja, Mexico where a previously inactive volcano has started to be less inactive as one might hope. Frankly I’m just one Aimee Mann song away from that crazy scene in Magnolia and I’m pretty sure my wiper blades won’t be able to take it.
I’ve got this weird survivalist streak that means my hatches were battened down days ago, and friends, let me tell you: once I batten something, it stays battened, so my best friend and I had nothing to do but watch old movies and wait for the power to go out.
Miraculously, our grid has stayed up and we made it all the way through my All Time Favorite Movie About Shoes: Kinky Boots.
I have been told by people who would know that I was at the American premier of Kinky Boots, but I’m not entirely sure that’s true. I was working for a film festival so it’s certainly possible, and that was the year I discovered the magical hallucinatory powers derived from a heady combination of extreme sleep deprivation and a diet consisting entirely of Chupa Chups lollipops and absolutely unforgivable cheap champagne. Still, I’d like to think I’d remember something.
It’s not every day you see a six-foot tall black British man with a voice for Othello in a wig for Diana Ross, at least not since my circuit party days.
For those who were also chasing the Chupa Chups dragon and managed to miss it, Kinky Boots revolves around Charlie Price whose family has been making high-quality men’s footwear for over a hundred years. When the company hits the skids thanks to an influx of cheap competition, he realizes his factory must change or die.
Enter Lola, a SoHo (the proper one, not the fake Yankee one) drag performer with a penchant for red patent leather, riding crops and Eartha Kitt.
Although it’s based on a true story, it is a bit formulaic, but so was Romeo and Juliet and they didn’t even have cute shoes (well, maybe they did, they WERE Italian) but it’s well worth a watch if only for the soundtrack and the Blue Angel Boys.
(ignore the cheesy American voiceover. Please.)
So what’s your favorite movie about shoes? The Wizard of Oz? The Red Shoes? Or maybe it’s just a scene. Put it in the comments!
Manolo says, here is the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.
Can you please help me? I’m having a hard time deciding on my Halloween costume this year. It’s come down to a choice between Morticia Addams (with a very short skirt), a Sexy Librarian, or Sarah Palin. Which do you think would be the best? What sort of shoes should I wear with it?
Manolo says, the Manolo remembers when the Halloween was a holiday for only the little kids, who dressed up like the balleina, or the cowboy, or the Superman, and took delight in the seasonal joys of carving the pumpkins, eating the candy, and “scaring” the neighbors.
But then, sometime around the 1995, the Halloween metamorphosed into the fully adult holiday, in which the little kids are almost the after thought. Now it has become our annual Brazen Festival of Hoochie Unbound, the Dionysian bacchanal in which even the most matronly soccer mom must, for the single evening, put on the micro-mini dress and halter-top and become the Sexy Nurse, or the Sexy Pirate Lady, or the Sexy Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Manolo suggests, this year, tossing out the old, exhausted Sexy Something Halloween template, and going with the more creative costuming. Instead of tarting up the mundane, (such as the Sexy Meter Maid), try to de-tart something naturally alluring, such as the Unsexy Stripper, the Unsexy Scarlet Johansson, or the Unsexy Librarian (which, at this point, would be the radical departure from the new Halloween tradition.)
Here is the Park tall boot from the Stuart Weitzman, something that would look great under the full-length, tweed skirt that is the centerpiece of your Unsexy Victorian Trollop outfit.
I’m going to Italy with two pairs of shoes. Talk about a tough decision. I mean, it’s Italy. That’s where the shoes were BORN. Selecting one pair of flats and one of heels was like Sophie’s Choice, except you can always have more kids, but Miu Miu only made those vernice slingbacks one season.
As much as I’d like to traipse around the cobblestones of Italia in my most precarious heels, it’s not going to happen. You need to be either a billy goat or an Italian woman to carry that off and since I am neither (although I do share their mutual predisposition to facial hair), I had to leave my fanciest foot coverings at home.
My grandfather, whose mother was Scottish and father was Welsh, used to tell us we were Italian.
Familial legend has it two Italian brothers were shipwrecked on the coast of Wales sometime in the early 19th century and settled down with a pair of local girls. Although it would explain the slightly Italianate name before the fine folks at Ellis Island decided to change it, I suspect it’s mostly fanciful thinking, much like how he told me his got his kidney shot out by a specialized kidney sniper in Okinawa (he was born with only one).
Dolce & Gabbana have been playing the Italian card even harder than usual lately and I have loved every minute of it. I’m especially excited to see the low, ladylike heel from seasons past show up again in the SS2013 collection.
I mean, I love a 5″ ankle buster as much as the next girl, but I’m already 5’10” and now that I’m in a dance company in a nation where I passed the average height for men in the fifth grade, I’ve got to be careful about heel height lest my partner for the evening inadvertently end up wearing my sweaterpuppies for earmuffs.
So which Dolce & Gabbana is your favorite? I like the colorful kitten heel, although the whimsical side of me is crazy for the references to Roman aqueducts and Ionic columns.
Manolo says, here is the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.
Now that Fall is here, I find I need some new boots, something that will keep me warm and dry. Did I mention that I’m a poor working girl? I am, so can you please suggest something reasonably priced?
Manolo says, as always the Manolo’s advice is to save up your moneys and purchase the best quality, most super fantasticest shoes possible, as nothing can give as much satisfaction as wearing the pair of beautiful, well-made shoes.
However, the Manolo knows what it is like to be the poor person during the rainy cold season, the poor person who must fashion his own super fantastic winter boots out of plastic soda bottles and bits of home insulation that you have harvested from the abandoned building site near the cave where you keep your Madame Alexander doll collection.
Unfortunately, despite the Manolo’s boundless sympathy, when it comes to the weatherproof boots, unless you are the wizard with the duct tape and the fake fur, you will have to spend some money to get something that will both look good, keep out the weather, and last the long time.
This is why the Manolo is especially fond of the La Canadienne boots. They are made in Montreal, by the French Canadians; people who live in igloos but still care about what is appearing on the runways in Paris.
Here is the Mazy from La Canadienne. It is not cheap, but it is the solid long-term investment in comfort, the sort of handsome weatherproof boot that will be wearable for many winters to come.
Once upon a time I wrote about a gorgeous pair of Alexander McQueen crocodile pumps that were available for something like 90% off. I’d tried them on at the Barneys mothership in Manhattan when they first came out and had been whispering sweet nothings to them in my mind for about a year and a half.
There was only one pair –my size– and instead of buying them –sensitive readers might want to look away now– I blogged them. Someone bought them, and instead of having my beloved McQueens, I had heartburn for a week.
I only mention that most unfortunate event because, in a rare example of learning from my mistakes, I waited to post about the Lux ballet flat from Bloch London until every color in my size had wended their way to my little cottage by the sea.
They might be, and I say this without hyperbole, the most comfortable ballet flats I’ve ever owned. Most folks, if they know about Bloch at all, know them as manufacturers of dance shoes, so the flats are engineered not just for maximum cuteness, but for flexibility and padding.
They’re also a true turnshoe, meaning they’re made entirely inside out on the last. There are a whole mess of reasons making turned shoes are both highly desirably and highly inconvenient (read about making pointe shoes in the turnshoe style here) but the only one I care about is the fact you can abuse them much more than a regular welted flat without them abusing you right back.
Fit Note: Bloch as a brand tends to run a little small, but the Lux runs true to size if not a half size large. I cracked a fresh pair right out of the box today and walked along uneven pavement for about an hour with just a little heel irritation.
N.B. In honor of the Manolo’s eight years of shoeblogging, here is one of the Manolo’s most favorite posts from the past, from October 20, 2008.
Manolo says, it is Monday and you are back in your office wrestling with the copy machine, and the fax machine, and your computer, and the mail machine, all of which are attempting to sabotage–with persistent paper jams and inexplicable malfunctions–your effort to complete one of the most important projects of your career. .
And now, the stapler on your desk (Swingline, 747 Classic in red) is looking funny at you, and you are wondering “What did I do to deserve this?” And so you call the tech support guys.
Oh, gosh darn it, you got Creepy Greg, the one everybody is wary of, not Nice Greg, the one everyone trusts. But, what can you do? You are desperate and need help right now, and so you tell Creepy Greg about the problems, and he replies with something unexpected.
“You have to propitiate the God of Office Machines.”
“Photocopicus, he demands an offering.”
“Photocopicus, dammit! Photocopicus! He needs a sacrifice. Grab some paperclips and go to the storage closet in the copier room. We’ve got a small altar there. Bow your head, state your desires, and leave the paperclips as an offering.”
“What? Can you have the other Greg call me?”
“He’ll tell you the same thing, dammit. Just do it, alright? Just do it. Trust me it’ll work.” And then he hangs up.
And now you are certain that you are part of the elaborate practical joke, but you are desperate, very, very desperate. And so, even though you are the Methodist, you grab the box of paperclips from your desk drawer and you go to the copier room, and there, in the closet, just as Creepy Greg said, there is the tiny gilded bronze replica of the photocopier, the Canon 330d, with the words “Photocopicus, God of Office Machines” engraved on the base. Around the idol are scattered paper clips, erasers, rollerball pens, and elaborately-folded origami sticky notes, colored in fanciful ways with highlighters.
Following instructions, and feeling more than the little ridiculous, you bow your head and ask Photocopicus to aid you in the completion of your presentation. And then you leave six paperclips, hoping that it is the correct number.
Two hours later, after you have successfully finished your presentation without incident, the phone rings, and it is Nice Greg, the tech guy everyone likes.
“So, did it work?”
“Um, yes, I think so.”
“Good.” And then he hangs up, leaving you feeling like you’re living in the middle of the Charlie Kaufman movie.
You know what you need now to erase that feeling of unheimlichkeit? Shoes, good old dependable, concrete, wonderful, never-let-us-down shoes.
Look, here are the marvelously real, wonderfully pretty Sigerson Morrison suede skimmers.
I am not going to pretend I spend a lot of time worrying whether my feet look big.
I didn’t especially worry about it before, and now that I live in Mexico where the directions to my remote beach cottage involve, “turn left on the dirt road by the big pile of rocks onto the trail that looks like you could probably drive across it and turn right just before you hit sand. If you drive into a dolphin or other surprised marine creature, you’ve gone too far” whether my big feet do, in fact, look big usually gets pushed into the the “Bigger fish to fry” cavity of my sunbleached brain.
That being said, I do notice when a shoe makes my size 41’s look especially petite.
Enter the Viola from Gucci.
A few years ago during one especially torridly hot summer, I found a pair of bottle green silk velvet sandals in just this shape on practically obscene markdown at The Happiest Place on Earth, a.k.a, Neiman Marcus Last Call.
I’m pretty sure they’re Sergio Rossi and not Gucci –I’d check but they’re languishing somewhere in a storage facility stateside– but the moment I strapped them on, they made my Bob Terwilligers look like Tinkerbell toes.
They’re a festive party shoe, giving a bit of visual weight to anchor a cocktail dress without being full-on editorial.
Oh, and if you’re ever looking for a way to perk up your velvet shoes, set them in the steamiest part of your bathroom as you take a hot shower. Then rough up the nap with a shoebrush (an old toothbrush works too), let them cool a bit and brush the nap back into place.
Manolo says, on this day eight years ago, October 16th, 2004, the Manolo began his earthly mission of bringing the beauty and magic of the shoes to the internets.
And now, nearly the decade later, the world has changed, and beautiful shoes are everywhere, all over of the internets, the shops, the runways, and the streets. Shoes have been finally and universally recognized as the greatest and bestest fashion accessory of all time.
To put it more plainly: We are living in the Golden Ages of Shoes.
What joy it gives the Manolo to know that he has done his small, tiny part in helping bring to about this apotheosis.
Most of all, however, on this happy day, the anniversary of the shoeblogging, what joy it gives the Manolo to know that he has made so many dear internet friends over the years, friends who have provided him with their attention and affection and support.
The Manolo, who could never fully express the deep gratitude he feels, can only say, dear readers, you are indeed most super fantastic!