Manolo says, the Manolo has been in the ferociously interesting conversation with his internet friend Eliza Wharton about the matters of beauty, style, and what makes someone the modern icon.
Over the course of this conversation, the Manolo has stated the few of his beliefs, which he will now deliver as the set of provocative Don Colacho style aphorisms:
1. Beauty is not negotiable.
2. If you are not blessed with beauty, change the game.
3. The best way to change the game is by being very different.
4. Great beauty can make you the icon, but beauty is neither necessary nor common among icons.
And now, for the explications:
Beauty is not negotiable
'Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety'... ORLY?
The rules of feminine beauty cannot be changed, no matter how much we may wish that they could be. They are as immutable and as fixed as the stars in the heavens: youth, fecundity, symmetry, and the pleasing hip-to-waist ratio.
We may try to convince ourselves that there are other standards of beauty, but such attempts are pretty lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better about our relative lack of beauty.
As cruel as they seem, such statements say nothing about our worth as individuals, or our goodness, or our merit to our family or the world.
Physical beauty is the gift given without reference to merit.
Although, it is the strange gift that inevitably dissipates with age. And one may still be compelling even into oldest age, but one should not be confused: compelling and beautiful are not the same thing. Beauty is compelling, but often the compelling is not also beautiful.
Gloria Swanson, First Beautiful, then Compelling
If you are not blessed with beauty, change the game.
Voted Least Likely to Date James Brolin
As youthful beauty fades, or was perhaps never fully present, this is where the art and magic of contriving the desirable is found.
Manolo says, not all fashion is impelled by our nostalgia for the mud, indeed, the best and most enduring fashion is inspired by our longings for transcendence.
Transcendence. We wish to move beyond ourselves, to leave behind the mundanity of our lives and be carried aloft to the higher plane, to the place where we are more beautiful, more charming, more alluring, and where we are dressed only and forever in Christian Dior, 2011 Spring Couture Collection.
There is such the thing as transcendent nostalgia, the longing for the golden past, for the specific Periclean circumstances that would allow us to be more than ourselves, to be better than we are, to achieve the apotheosis of our essential humanity.
Beautiful clothing allows us to touch the hem of transcendence. What it gives is more than utility, more than adornment, more than fashion. Its true gift is the glimpse of perfection.
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
Manolo says, one of the Manolo’s internet friends has asked him the question.
I’m working on a small academic paper about fashion, for presenting at the Association of Private Enterprise in Education (APEE) meeting this coming April. Virginia Postrel, who is both your friend and mine, has told me that you’re quite nice and quite classical liberal in your inclinations, so I wondered if I might ask you if you have a brief comment or two on the perennial fashion trend of extremely costly clothing made to look like garbage.
There’s something very interesting going on here with ideas of wealth, price, value, appearance…
At any rate, if you have time to think about it a little, I’d love to know what thoughts you have.
All the best,
Briefly laying aside the matters economic, what is going on here is what the French writer Émile Augier called La nostalgie de la boue, or the “longing for the mud”.
It is the commonplace notion that the primitive, the well-worn and tattered, even the debased are superior in essence to the refined and civilized.
This idea and emotion, as far as the Manolo knows, has been present in all societies and all places, undoubtedly since the humans first left the trees, and then longed to build the treehouse in which they could retreat on the weekends to express their inner australopithecus.
And, as fashion is the art form reflective of society and its traumas, and as it is also the business, it is only natural that the fashion houses would eagerly seek to reflect upon and profit from this universal human desire.
Of the course, the fashionistas, with the few notable exceptions, are not the deep thinkers, and so you will not find complex thoughts expressed about this idea in regards to society, history and authenticity, only variations of the phrase “I think it looks cool”.
And, lest you think such mockery unwarranted…the Manolo gives you the Brother Sharp.
Brother Sharp, Chinese Fashion Icon
But Mr Cheng’s life changed dramatically after an amateur photographer posted pictures of him walking the streets onto the Chinese internet.
His prominent cheekbones and bohemian clothes quickly won him a legion of fans who called him “China’s Sexiest Tramp” and, most often, “Brother Sharp”.
Meanwhile, offers have poured in for him to appear in advertisements and he even did a stint as a catwalk model in the southern city of Foshan.
And now that we have established that we universally long for the mud, especially when the people who are wallowing in it are photogenic, how can we make the money from it?
This is where the Manolo must take you back to Ur, by making the reference to the work of Thorstein Veblen, and his notions of conspicuous consumption and conspicuous waste.
Throughout the entire evolution of conspicuous expenditure, whether of goods or of services or human life, runs the obvious implication that in order to effectually mend the consumer’s good fame it must be an expenditure of superfluities. In order to be reputable it must be wasteful.
Thus, if one feels the desire to wallow, and yet must maintain or build one’s reputation for being the right sort of fashionable person, one must be prepared to spend serious cash on something whose price cannot be justified by utility alone.
The fashion houses and designers know this and profit from it.
The example of the Louis Vuitton trash bag that costs $1960 for what is essentially the wan joke is prima facie evidence. It is not attractive, nor does it appear to be well made, and yet the person who has purchased it makes the undeniable statement about her status, economic resources, and knowledgeable hipness.
Manolo says, yes, it has come to this. For the people who believe that readjusting the Snuggie when you move from the Barcolounger to the mobility scooter is too much work, comes the Forever Lazy, described as :”the one piece, lie around, lounge around, full body lazy wear!” (Please note that the exclamation mark is in the original, apparently the punctuational celebration of sloth rewarded.)
Put on the Crocs, and head out for the night on the town…Walmart, Applebys, Chuck E. Cheese. The world is your oyster!
Or, stay in and make the sloppy joes! Recline in front of the fire with the one you love; the romantic evening, just the two of you. When the Budweiserly nectar you have been sipping puts you and your partner in the mood, you shall really appreciate the front-and-back, double-zippered hatches!
For Those Times When You Feel Romantic
Ayyyy! The guarantee of money back? Perfect! It is like the investment, even!
And now the Manolo must go back to bed, as it is raining and the Vandals are approaching Hippo.
P.S. Many thanks to the Manolo’s internet friend Anne for alerting him to this.
P.P.S. Please consider following the Manolo on Twitter and befriending him on the Facebook.
Manolo says, today in the New York Times there is the annotated list of the 41 Places to Go in 2011, which was, as such things usually are, mostly the exercise in status-conscious, Bobo one-upmanship.
Naturally, because the Manolo is both the bohemian and bourgeois, the Manolo was pleased to see that he had recently been to several of the places on the list, including the number one choice, Santiago, Chile.
And, he was extremely happy to see that there was the entire paragraph in the NY Times Santiago entry devoted to the Museo de la Moda…
Perhaps the most remarkable cultural space to open in the last few years is the Museo de la Moda, a privately financed fashion museum inside a revamped 1960s Modernist mansion. It has a permanent collection of nearly 10,000 pieces of couture and memorabilia (of which 800 are typically on display), including a light-blue jacket worn in 1966 by John Lennon and a black strapless gown worn in 1981 by Diana, Princess of Wales.
The Manolo felt that the museum was strongest in the clothing of the mid-20th century, undoubtedly the result of the founder Jorge Yarur’s unusual filial devotion, which has preserved not only the family’s modernist mansion, but his mother’s clothing collection. Indeed, it is the clothing of the mother which forms the heart of this collection, lovingly displayed in cases in the darkened, converted bedrooms and family rooms of the mansion, as if they were the religious objects in glass reliquaries. (As one internet wag said, Jorge Yarur, The Most Fashionable Mama’s Boy Ever.)
Beyond the mother’s clothing, which is good but not great, however, there is the extensive collection of important and historical pieces, including several major Paul Poiret gowns, along with the Diors, the Chanels, and many older items of interest.
The shoe collection was likewise well done, although the Manolo did have the very sniffy pleasure of pointing out that two pairs of the boots had been misidentified, their cards transposed (undoubtedly the error of the inattentive curator).
Of the course, there many more reasons to go to Santiago, but for the Manolo, it was the Museo de la Moda that made the trip.
During the First World War, the Metropolitan Railway, like other services serving the City, was effectively taken over by the government. Its trains were extensively used to transport troops from London to the Channel ports. To replace its employees who left to fight, the Met began employing women for the first time in positions such as porters, ticket inspectors, and guards.
Here is another picture of these boots and uniform on the different woman…
Historians agreed it was the first time they could remember seeing the leader of the free world snapped in a public setting, wearing nothing more than a flimsy strip of rubber on his feet.
Capping off his Hawaiian vacation, President Obama earlier this week sports an uber-casual look finished with a pair of flipflops, favored by his core demographic: college kids.
“I can’t say I’ve seen a president’s toes before. This could be a very usual thing,” said presidential historian Jane Hampton Cook, author of an upcoming children’s book “What Does the President Look Like?”
“But I don’t think this is a big deal. Your footwear belongs to the occasion. If you’re on the beach buying your daughter snow cones, I don’t think you can beat him up for this. Now if he’s wearing flip-flops to the State of the Union, that’d be different.”
Presidential historian Doug Wead concurred.
“In public, no. I haven’t seen the president’s toes,” he deadpanned.
And while most historians couldn’t think of an example of presidential appendages being on such display, most agreed it wasn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world.
Unless you one of those old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy persons who seeks to uphold the standards of dress and decorum.
P.S. If you are the new visitor to the humble blog of the Manolo, please consider following the Manolo on the Twitter, or befriending him on the Facebook.
Manolo says, thanks to the interesting article about the birth of European “fashion” at the History Today, the Manolo has been introduced to the chief accountant to the family Fugger, Matthäus Schwarz, who was apparently the sort of Renaissance Sartorialist.
Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers / And they've been known to pick a song or two
In July 1526 Matthäus Schwarz, a 29-year-old chief accountant for the mighty Fugger family of merchants from Augsburg, commissioned a naked image of himself as fashionably slim and precisely noted his waist measurements. He worried about gaining weight, which to him signalled ageing and diminished attractiveness. Over the course of his life, from his twenties to his old age, Schwarz commissioned 135 watercolour paintings showing his dressed self, which he eventually compiled into a remarkable album, the Klaidungsbüchlein (Book of Clothes), which is housed today in a small museum in Brunswick. From the many fascinating details the album reveals we know that, while he was courting women, Schwarz carried heart-shaped leather bags in green, the colour of hope.
This mania for the clothing reaches its peak at the Imperial Diet in Augsberg.
Matthäus Schwarz had three expensive outfits tailored for himself to please Archduke Ferdinand I of Austria, whom he met twice during the Imperial Diet of Augsburg of 1530, presided over by the archduke and his brother, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. […] Schwarz, who had slimmed in advance and had grown a beard like Ferdinand himself, used fashion to produce an image of himself which made the archduke like and trust him. In 1541 Schwarz himself received a particularly special reward from the emperor, whom he had also had a chance to impress in person; he was ennobled.
Ayyy! Matthäus Schwarz dieted for the Diet!
But, thanks to the age and the marriage, things did not end well for our foppish friend…
Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Mr. Manolo Blahnik. This website is not affiliated in any way with Mr. Manolo Blahnik, any products bearing the federally registered trademarks MANOLO®, BLAHNIK® or MANOLO BLAHNIK®, or any licensee of said federally registered trademarks. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the author.