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The One That Got Away

When I started curating my shoe collection nearly a decade ago –when Lacroix still had his atelier, Gaultier was CD for Hermès and Muccia Prada’s current models were still fetuses instead of just practically ones– I did so with the knowledge that someday the newspaper gravy train, where I was raking in tens of dollars a month, would end.

I bought carefully and within my means, bringing home a pair of new lovelies only if I could pay cash and was confident they’d be just as stylish thirty years from the moment I stood, insidey parts all a-tingle, at the Neiman Marcus jewelry counter where my wisecracking sales associate always secretly checked me out so I wouldn’t have to wait in line like an animal.

That means my collection errs on the conservative side.

Good shoes are too expensive if they’ll look foolish after two seasons, and capable bank robbers willing to share their bounty with law abiding fat girls in heels don’t grow on trees, at least they didn’t in Texas.

Several years ago, I fell in love with a shoe.

Not just any shoe, the green python Anniversary pump, the cornerstone shoe for Dior’s entire magnificent collection, a far cry from the demure Valentinos I was collecting at the time.

It rung bells in belfries I didn’t even know I had.

My favorite house, referencing my favorite fashion era, using my favorite material in my favorite color. The only way they could’ve been more suited to me is if they came with a free chiseled commitment-minded footballer who loved to give foot massages as a gift with purchase.

Sadly, it was not to be. I did manage to locate a pair in fuchsia kid leather and I do adore them, but my beloved green Anniversaries got away and even though the shoeniverse eventually tried to make it up to me by sending me that foot-rubbing footballer, it’s just not the same.

What about you? What’s your one wearable that truly got away?

Miuccia is Our Muse

Miuccia Prada Emerging at End of ShowMiuccia Prada BackstageMiuccia Prada At The End of Show

Manolo says, Ayyyyy! Cutest ever!

The Pope Does Not Wear Prada

Manolo says, despite rumors to the contrary, the Pope does not wear the Prada.

The pontiff has been hailed as a “style icon” since his election just over three years ago and speculation has been rife that he enjoys designer clothes. Attention has focused not only on his often elaborate headgear and fashionable sunglasses but also on his dainty red shoes, or moccasins, widely assumed to be made by Prada.

However L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, categorically denied reports today that the shoes were a Prada product, saying this was “of course false”.

According to Vatican sources the Pope’s shoes are made by a cobbler from Novara called Adriano Stefanelli, who makes them from calf or kid for the winter and nappa leather for the summer. Papal shoe repairs are carried out by Antonio Arellano, a Peruvian shoemaker in the Borgo, the medieval quarter next to St Peter’s. The article, on “Ratzinger’s Liturgical Vestments”, was written by Juan Manuel de Prada, the noted Spanish writer and author of The Tempest, who is not related to the fashion company. De Prada said that the image of the German-born Pope as concerned with “frivolity” was at odds with the truth, which was that he was a “simple and sober” man. Suggestions to the contrary were “stupid and banal”.

Well, excuse the Manolo, for being interested. So who does dress His Holiness, Señor de Prada?

“The Pope is not dressed by Prada but by Christ,” he said.

That certainly clears up any confusion.

Miu Miu Dumb Dumb

Miu Miu Kitten Heel Flex Pump with Flower ...  Manolo Thinks is Dumb.

Manolo says, it is not often the Manolo forcefully decries something from the hand of his muse, Miuccia Prada, but this kitten-heel flex pump from Miu Miu is just such the item.

There is no other way to describe this, except, it is just dumb.

Yes, undoubtedly in the wonderfully original and byzantine mind of Miuccia Prada, there is some sort of conceptual-y, ironic-y, post-modern-y thing going on, but here, in the execution of this idea, there is only dumbness.

This shoe could only be worn by the grossest of congenitally ignorant attention seekers. (Insert name of Hollywood starlet here.) Otherwise it is simply unwearable, and indeed, it pains the Manolo to even gaze upon it.

What is perhaps the most troubling for the Manolo is that only last week, the Manolo was praising one of the most beautiful shoes he has ever seen, the truly sublime Prada Corallo Oro sandals.

How is it possible that the same person could be responsible for both items?

And now, the Manolo must go lay down in the darkened room, the cool compress upon his forehead.

Prada Spring-Summer 2008

Manolo says, speaking of the Miuccia and her ways, the Manolo could not help but notice that the latest Prada show in Milan presented shoes that swerved wildly away from the previous look. Remember those beautiful, restrained, and unusual Prada sfumato shoes which we were all so recently praising?

These are emphatically different…

Organic and whimsical, these shoes are not unpleasing, although they have perhaps too much of the Magical Shoe Fairy Cottage about them for the taste of the Manolo.

However, he appreciates the effort.

More to his taste are these colorful shoes below…

(more…)

Whose Shoes Wednesday…The Answer!

Manolo asked, whose shoes?

Manolo answers, it is our muse, Miuccia!

Congratulations to the Manolo’s internet friend Miranda, who was the first to guess whose shoes.

She is adorable, and those calves are so muscular!

The Paradox of Not Caring

Manolo says, the Sunday Times of the London they have the article about our muse the Miuccia Prada, published under the title In Praise of Modesty. Here is the excerpt.

If there is a fashion pioneer living today, it is Miuccia Prada. Her vision of the modern woman totally changed our attitude to sex and how we dress it up. She is fashion’s great provocateur, and when she sends models down the catwalk wearing sheer blouses buttoned severely to the neck, or black capes worn over beige shirts, or with belts pulled tightly round cardigans and socks up to the knees, you wonder, is her interest in the clothes at all, or in the opportunity to play intellectualised sexual games? Above all, how has she managed to take us all along her own special path?

When I put this to her, it’s obvious that she is not entirely sure of the answers herself. After all, she came into fashion through the back door, with no training and, initially at least, no great interest in the business. She had always had an abiding curiosity about appearance and what it says about us, though.

“I realise how powerful and important clothes are, especially for women,” she says. “They have to be useful for your life, of course, but they must also express your individual sentiment.” That Prada accepts that all fashion is role-play is what makes her such a force. She understands that the job of the truly ground-breaking designer is to decide on the roles, dress them and then present them in such a way that people all over the world want to join the cast.

Prada herself makes an unlikely éminence grise. She is neither dowdy, nor overwhelmingly chic. In fact, she looks entirely normal. Her figure is that of a woman in her fifties. Her hair is cut like most other women’s hair. She rarely wears make-up. Contrast her with another Italian icon, Donatella Versace, and you realise that she is a fashion outsider. Certainly, she avoids socialising with most other designers and runs a mile from social events. As she said to me, years ago: “I am a wife and a mother” — she has two teenage boys — “and I have many more interests than fashion. Fashion is just my job.”

But today she has amended her tune: “I’ve become impatient when people claim they don’t care about clothes. They still dress every morning, and if they are going to reject fashion, they still need clothes to show it. Style rebellion is still a form of self-expression.”

Indeed, as the Miuccia notes, claiming to not care about the clothes, to not be concerned about what one wears, is the paradox, for the clothes worn by one who claims not to care make as much the statement as those worn by one who dresses with purpose.

These inescapable facts obtain: that clothes are always necessary, and that others they will always judge us by them. These are the reasons why the Manolo he would have you dress with the purpose, to consider carefully what you would wear, and to think about the effect your clothes, and how you wear, them will have on others.

Of the course, this does not mean that you must dress to please others, nor that you should follow the lowing herd, but rather that you should be conscious of the image you are projecting.

For the example, if you wish to project the image of carefree disdain for the high fashion, be aware that your dirty t-shirt of the Oakland Raiders, torn sweat pants, and flip-flops may not be conveying that exact message, may in the stead be saying to the by passer, “Cross to the other side of the street, lest this person’s disdain for personal hygiene and grooming infect you with the parasites.”

Manolo says, the fashion, it is not the nuclear rocket brain surgery.

There are the simple rules for dressing that can be used by anyone to maximize the assests and diminish the faults, and thus project the worthy image. Likewise, there are the ways and reasons to deviate from these rules that will thus project the pleasing counter image. But the central necessity for properly using, and sometimes ignoring, the rules of the fashion and the clothing is to be thoughtful, to consider your choices carefully, and to be aware that you are always, always, always projecting the image, even when you think you are not.

P.S. Speaking of our muse the Miuccia, the Manolo he has updated his humble Prada Blog. It has the new look! It is improved!

Miuccia Speaks of the Clothes

Our Muse!

Manolo says, the Miuccia she has unveiled her spring/summer men’s collection for the 2006, and the beautiful Samurai Suzy she has passed the judgement…it is the triumph!

In her fresh, clean-cut show and in her wise words, Miuccia Prada put into perspective the malaise pervading high fashion menswear, which other Italian designers have tried to face off with vivid color and graphic pattern for summer 2006.

“Fashion should become more egalitarian. I am not interested in dealing with a few sophisticated people,” Prada said. “Crisscrossing everything is the main issue: the need to face the huge world and to appeal to new countries and new customers.”

So for Prada, Monday’s show was a stark return to basics: to the skinny silhouette, to fabrics treated with techno shine, to nylon work-wear, to hosiery-fine sweaters and to symbols to identify the label. And being Prada, with her penchant for a communist/populist aesthetic, that meant stars (but not necessarily red) printed on shirts, neckties or decorating the new must-have nylon backpack – along with hearts to put soul into a sober collection.

The result was a show of those perfectly judged and wearable clothes on which Prada built its empire. But the reprise did not include her much-copied brief coat, short boxy suits or sour colors. In fact, Prince of Wales tailoring was classic, and there was a wry sweetness to an aqua blue suit, to a dusty pink shirt or a moss green sweater. Pants with softening pleats offered a new cut.

Why is Prada so often ahead of the pack? Because she has an ability to invent new menswear classics as if they had always existed. After a few seasons of kooky effects, any piece of this show – and that includes the head-wrap hats – could have walked right out on silvered sneakers or smart leather shoes onto the Milan streets. It was fashion for the real world and for its future.

For the Manolo there is much that must be discussed from this show and from this article. First, we must address the wise words of the Miuccia herself.

“Fashion should become more egalitarian. I am not interested in dealing with a few sophisticated people,” Prada said. “Crisscrossing everything is the main issue: the need to face the huge world and to appeal to new countries and new customers.”

Manolo says, the regular readers of the Manolo know that this, this egalitarian approach to the fashion, it is the bedrock philosophy of the Manolo. Being super fantastic, it is something we should all strive to achieve, and the beautiful clothes and the beautiful shoes they should be for everyone who wishes to do so.

Yes, not every piece of every collection is able to be worn by every person, but the designers who are important they are making clothes that are wearable by the real peoples, not the clothes that are simply the ridiculous runway statements.

The democratization of fashion and beauty, it is one of the trends that is, in the humble opinion of the Manolo, changing the world. As more people they become better educated, they are demanding the beauty and the good design in their own lives. (This it is the special topic of the Manolo’s internet friend the Virginia Postrel.)

What the Miuccia and the Suzy Menkes recognize is that the best fashion it will appeal not just to the cognscenti, but to the wider world. This, what we are speaking of, it is not the mass clothing of the Wal-Mart (although to some of the extent it eventually trickles down to the Wal-Mart) but it is instead the idea that the new tools of the medias, they have enabled ordinary peoples living in the ordinary places to become carefully attuned to fashion and beauty, to the point where they wish to have these things in their own lives. And the search for the suitable, flattering, and appealing individual style, it has become the true quest, the true desire of millions.

This, it is why the Suzy Menkes she ends her discussion of the show of the Prada with the words, “It was fashion for the real world and for its future.” The future, which has already arrived, it is the democratization of fashion, and the desires, which will be satisfied, of individuals everywhere to wear beautiful clothes.

P.S. The Manolo he has the few picture from the show and comments about them over at his Prada blog.

Less Skin

Manolo says, look at this story!

Hip-hugging jeans and tight-fitting tiny tops are out. Less skin is back in for the young American.

U.S. fashion experts say a trend toward modesty is evident in new fall styles for clothing aimed at girls in their early teens, and will become more common with spring 2006 designs.

“We’re seeing skirt hemlines that are at the knee and are very demure, very proper pants, prim tops and large pearl necklaces,” said Gloria Baume, fashion market director for Teen Vogue. The magazine showcases fashion and photography much like its parent publication Vogue.

Baume, who said she looks to European fashion runways to spot what will be hot for American teens, said designers have been focusing on “ladylike and almost old-fashioned” styles that were inspired by the 1950s.

That would phase out the belly-baring, skintight numbers championed by the likes of Britney Spears. “There is nothing form-fitting about the latest fashions,” Baume said.

Does that mean the low-rise jean fad is over?

“I hope so,” said Baume. “I don’t like them. That style has been around for four years and I think girls are getting tired of it.”

CosmoGIRL! magazine fashion editor, Tara McBratney, agrees there is a new trend toward modesty in fashion, but she says it has little to do with pressure from conservative elements in society.

“Fashion is a cycle,” McBratney explained. “We got to the point where the jeans were as low as they could go, shirts were as cropped as they could go, baby tees were as tight as they could go, so the natural progression is for fashion to go the other way.”

This woman, the Tara McBratney, she is wrong. Yes, to some of the extent, the fashion it is the cycle, with the hemlines going up and down in the somewhat predictable manner. However, the Manolo he believes that this it is indeed the beginning of the partial return to the standards of the dignity and the comportment that once ruled.

Do not forget that our muse the Miuccia Prada, she has been talking about this very issue. For the example, here in this recent interview in the GQ.

With women, the more unhappy they are, the more undressed they are. This is true. Dignity’s another very important part of this. Sex and the City is the opposite of dignity. You have to have dignity for your body–this is with men and women. You need to have dignity towards how you are, how you dress, how you behave.

This it is so perfectly true, and so perfectly self-evident that the Manolo he cannot understand why it took so long for so many persons to realize it.

Prada Shoe Trick

Prada black patent leather 'Shoe Trick'

Manolo says, Ayyyyyyy! The Manolo he must have this!

P.S. Many thanks to the Manolo’s internet friend the Wendy for pointing the Manolo to this. There is no question that she is indeed super fantastic.

Interview With the Miuccia

Manolo says, the Manolo he does not read the GQ, as it encourages the men to take up the peacocky fashion, however, this month the Manolo he has made the exception, as this issue it includes the interview with the Miuccia. Here is the excerpt:

GQ: You know that show Sex and the City?

MP: Embarrassing! I was thinking New York is like that. I have the impression that the people are like that–the women, the bitchiness.

GQ: The thing is, too many women see that show and they think that’s how their life should be. Rather than create their life, they imitate a stupid show. And that’s the worst thing you can do. Right?

MP: Oh no, it’s terrible. Also the way of total and sure unhappiness. It’s what I say all the time to my girls in the office here: The more they dress for sex, the less they will have love or sex. These girls throw away so much energy in this search for beauty and sexiness. I think that the old rules were much more clever and better than the rules now. The trouble is, most people are not so generous. Everybody wants love for themselves. I hear this all the time from the women I work with. I hear them say, “I want, I want.” I never hear them saying what they want to give.

GQ: Do you tell them that?

MP: Yes, of course. They don’t listen. With women, the more unhappy they are, the more undressed they are. This is true. Dignity’s another very important part of this. Sex and the City is the opposite of dignity. You have to have dignity for your body–this is with men and women. You need to have dignity towards how you are, how you dress, how you behave. Very important. Men are always much more dignified than most women.

GQ: Why?

MP: Because women have the stress of being beautiful, of age and youth. Men don’t have all that. And with women, that stress causes a lot of mistakes and bad choices–a lot of not being their true self. You know, the older I get, the more I prefer to talk to old people. Old people or kids.

Manolo says, yes, the interviewer he is not the brightest of the bulbs, but he has nonetheless managed to elicit important responses from the Miuccia about the role of the tradition, respect and dignity.

It is no secret that the Manolo he is the lover of tradition, and the believer in the dignity of the individual, and in the proper respect for the self and others. This is one of the reasons why he is such the fan of the Miuccia, because she knows that the fashion it is truly secondary to these most important of things.

(By the way, the Manolo he disagrees with the Miuccia about the men having more dignity than the women. There are many of the mens who are completely without la dignidad. It is however true that the pressures on the women they are corrosive.)

Here is the more from the Miuccia.

GQ: […] So what is the point of fashion? The average GUY pictures a few strange people sitting around indulging their bizarre whims, and I’m not sure you disagree.

MP: Clothes can be important. I am learning this. For instance, often when I design and I wonder what is the point, I think of someone having a bad time in their life. Maybe they are sad, and they wake up and they put on something that I’ve made, and it makes them feel just a bit better. So in that sense, fashion is a little help in the life of a person. But very little. After all, if you have a serious drama, who cares about the clothes?

GQ: I believe in uniforms—finding a look you like and sticking to it.

MP: I love uniforms because they allow you to hide. No one knows what you are thinking, so it’s a very appropriate and correct way to be yourself.

Manolo says, this is one of the points the Manolo he was trying to make at the Manolo for the Men with regard to the ridiculous men’s clothes of the Vivienne Westwood.

Too often, one sees the person who devotes enormous amounts of the psychic energy to maintaining the outwardly bizarre appearance. Ultimately, this is most often energy wasted, energy that should have been properly devoted to maintaining the inwardly unique or revolutionary way of seeing the world.

We wish to dress well and fashionably for many reasons, for the pleasure of having beautiful objects, for the pleasure of eliciting the envy or desire of others, for the pleasure of the feelings of self-confidence, but most importantly, we should wish to dress well because good clothes allow others to give us respect.

The Manolo he does not wish to go all Foucault on you, but by this “give us respect” the Manolo means that the clothes are the signifiers of position and power.

The fact it is that others judge us by our clothes. It is not fair, but it is nonetheless completely the way of the world. Thus we should dress well because the good clothes earn respect and admiration that is not necessarily deserved, but is nonetheless useful.

Of the course, ultimately the clothes are irrelevant to whether or not that initial respect and admiration are maintained. True character, as the Miuccia rightly knows, eventually emerges.

Here is what the Manolo he said a few weeks ago at the Manolo for the Men.

The grown up peoples they require the grown up clothes.

Do not denigrate the importance of looking “normal”. Fashion it is about looking good, not seeking out the look of the abnormal, or the outre, or the purposely ridiculous.

Manolo says, the true radical in the serious well-cut, well-tailored clothes is the one whose thoughts, talents, and actions will change the world. The attention-seeking adolescent in the motley clothes of the fool, this person is merely the comedic sideshow.

Manolo says, enough of this! And now, back to the funny pictures of the celebrities.

(The Manolo he has taken the liberty of adding the illustrative links to the Miuccia’s words. And by the way, one these links it is not safe for the place of work. The apologies of the Manolo if this it has caused you concern.)

Prada in Milan

Manolo says, over at the the Manolo he has begun to post some of the pictures (along with the Manolo’s commentary) from the Miuccia’s fall fashion show in the Milan today.

Of the course, more it will follow over the next several days, as this show it is digested and evaluated by the Manolo.

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