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Manolo the Columnist: Vagibu by Manolo Blahnik

Manolo says, here is the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.

Dear Manolo

Spring has sprung and my thoughts are turning to a sexy-but-not-too-bare cage sandal (bootie). I’d like to find something in a bronze or gold, but would consider beige as well. The problem is, most have heels 4″ or more, and I can’t go over 3″. Help!

Kelly

Manolo says, ayyyy! This is one of those insoluble questions, of the sort that the Manolo occasionally receives from his many friends.

“Manolo, can you find me the pair of super-sexy, strappy comfort sandals in which I may climb the Mountain of Kilimanjaro? I should mention that afterwards there will be the reception at the Palace of Buckingham where my fiancé, whom I shall refer to by the initials Prince H., will introduce me to his grandparents, so it would be good if these shoes were made of the stain-resistant, micro-fiber unobtainium in the color such lavender or peach, as I will not have enough time in the helicopter to change. Also, I am somewhat budget conscious, so if it is possible, could we keep the price under $17?”

Actually, the question of the Kelly is not so bad. It is difficult because the cage sandals are the latest iteration of “the sexy ‘it’ shoe”, and the “sexy ‘it’ shoe” always requires the high heel. The cage sandals are not meant to be practical, they are meant to say “this women is so bursting with sexiness that her very feets must be constrained by her shoe, lest they wreak havoc on the unaccompanied PGA golfers and Silicon Valley billionaires.”

Here is the Vagibu Cage Sandals from the maestro Manolo Blahnik. It has the four-inch heel and is wildly expensive. But, even if you cannot wear it or afford it, it is still most beautiful to look at, no?

Blahnik Vagibu Cage Sandals

Happy Birthday to the Maestro Manolo Blahnik!

Manolo Blahnik at Seventy

Manolo says, on this day, seventy years ago, our maestro di tutti maestri Manolo Blahnik graced the world with his presence!

In honor of this historic event, and in honor of our Maestro’s glorious day, the humble Manolo the Shoeblogger gives to you this link to the most recent interview.

Actually, I know what he means. It is strange to think, now, that there was a time not so long ago when shoes were just shoes, rather than the magical totems of success and femininity they have become. Expensive high heels have become a motif in our popular culture for Stuff Women Want. They are how Olympians reward themselves for success, and the default shorthand of every chick-lit book cover. And the origin of this idea of the shoe as a magical object stems, in large part, from the way Manolo designs them. His sketches of shoes are extraordinary: not inanimate line-drawings but character portraits, sensual and suggestive. Richard Avedon’s fashion photography showed us how clothes can lend charisma and attitude to the wearer, by teasing out and emphasising the posture and silhouette of the body. Manolo did the same with footwear. With his sketches, Manolo has done more to open the eyes of the world to the transformative power of the right shoe than anyone since Cinderella.

And yet, Manolo has never really cashed in on the phenomenon he helped create. He has never sold his company. He still personally designs every pair of shoes that bears his name, rather than delegate to a studio. Key roles in the company are held by members of his family, and he has never done a lucrative mass-market collaboration, along the lines of Jimmy Choo for H&M. He is a wealthy man with an enviable lifestyle, but perhaps not as wildly rich as one might expect. He lives in Bath, in an 18th-century townhouse that he adores; he says he moved there in the 1980s because he “could not possibly afford” such a house in London. “But who cares? I couldn’t care less about business,” he says cheerfully.

As always, he is revealed as the most delightful person, and our model in all things.

The Diaz Leather Ankle Boot from the Maestro Manolo Blahnik for the Monday

Manolo says, it is Monday, and you are back at your desk doing that thing that you do to make that money that you need to keep the wolves away from the door.

Wolves? Ha!

Would that the rampaging wolf packs were your main concern.

Yes, if you live in the Montana, or the Wyoming, the wolf might occasionally, maybe, snatch up the unguarded toy poodle, or the haughty house cat (who probably had it coming), but even there the danger to your nuclear family and home is negligible. Although, certainly, most 21st century husbands, now reduced to the largely supernumerary functions, such as 3,000 mile oil changes and ordering new aluminum siding, would relish the chance to reassert their Viking bona fides by driving off the pack of wolves while armed with nothing more than the large stick and the AR-15.

Ayyy! Such is the stuff of suburban male fantasy! But, thanks to modern high-powered cartridges and infrared scopes, our ancient and noble canine vermin are easily kept at bay.

Unfortunately, modern vermin are not so easily dissuaded from their depredations. Indeed, between the tax collector, the bank, the politician, and the nice man at the gas station who, where this 18th century, would be standing the the side of the road wearing the mask and holding the brace of pistols, you have never been more beset on all sides.

And this says nothing about the various indignities foisted upon you at the place of the work, where your immediate supervisor, Mr. Potiphar, has earned the well deserved reputation as the slave driver.

But, what can you do? When has life not been the struggle? When have the metaphoric wolves not been at the non-metaphoric door?

Look! Beautiful and sophisticated booties!

Diaz Leather Ankle Boot from Manolo Blahnik

This is the Diaz Leather Ankle Boot from Maestro Manolo Blahnik, the sort of shoe that heralds the coming winter with style and seriousness.

Manolo the Columnist: Pargata Buckle-Toe Raffia Pump from the Maestro

Dear Manolo,

I am a tax attorney in an exceedingly formal office. I work with a number of charming, albeit elderly gentlemen who might well drop dead on the floor if they encounter a naked toe in the work place. However, spring is quickly passing towards summer here in New Orleans, and even my affection for my colleagues cannot compel me to wear pantyhose during the summer in this climate. Can you direct me towards an office-appropriate shoe that is not too warm for summer wear but does not reveal my lower digits?

Nola

Manolo says, the Manolo has often noted that, strangely, even the most staid lawyer can be driven mad by the glimpse of succulent toe flesh, which is why sandals have never been considered to be the proper business attire.

And yet, our young tax attorney, who is undoubtedly slaving away in the corporate salty-tear mines as the countdown to the infernal April 15th nears, will soon be needing something truly glorious — high-heeled, bejeweled, and open-toed — to celebrate her temporary release from bondage.

In the meantime, she must concentrate on rendering unto Caesar and the senior partners that which is due them, to be defined as 3000 billable hours the year. Because of this, she deserves the most beautiful, beautiful office shoes, so as to be the tiny daily consolation for her mighty labors.

Here is the Pargata Buckle-Toe Rafia Pump from the Maestro Manolo Blahnik, the perfect, super-sophisticated, summery shoe!

Pargata Buckle-Toe Raffia Pump from Manolo Blahnik

From the Archives of the Manolo: Manolo Blahnik Clausado D’Orsay Pumps For the Monday

N.B. This seasonally appropriate post, which the Manolo published last year, still makes the Manolo laugh with pleasure. Perhaps it will be to your liking also…

Manolo says, it is Monday, and you are NOT back at your desk, NOT slaving away for the man.

You were supposed to be back in the office this morning, as surely as the sun rises in the Easterly direction, doing your bit to increase the bottom line of MarScro International, the privately held company with interests in the manufacturing, importation and marketing of such diverse products as the lead-based Chinese toys, powdered Sudanese baby formula, and Liberian-made cellphones.

You were supposed to be back at the work, but on Christmas Day, shortly after nine in the morning, you received the strangest phone call from the CEO, Mr. S., himself, the eccentric billionaire famous in the financial press for driving the 1962 Nash Rambler (which he purchased new), and for chasing business reporters away from his decrepit three-bedroom home with the walking stick.

It was the strangest call, because the perpetually sour, old Mr. S. sounded giddy, perhaps even drunk, shouting “Merry Christmas”, and weepily thanking you for being such the faithful employee. And then he gave you the week off, followed by the big raise.

At that point, you became certain that the phone call was some lame practical joke, that this was not really the CEO, but rather some co-worker playing the cruel trick upon you.

“No, no, my dear lady. I assure you it is I.”

“But, sir, it may sound like you, but…but….”

“But, it is not my usual behavior? Not my custom to give raises to valued employees?”

“Yes, sir. Not your usual behavior.”

“Well, let us just say that I am a changed man, that from this day forth, I shall know how to keep Christmas well.”

And then he asked about your son.

“And how is little Tom?”

“He’s fine, sir.”

“Is he? The last I saw of the boy he was in a leg brace, so pathetic.”

“No, sir, he’s fine now. He’s a sophomore at Johns Hopkins, on a lacrosse scholarship.”

And then you remember that Tommy had come into the office the few years ago, on crutches, right after he had hyperextended his knee in the scrimmage against the varsity team.

When you finally hung up, “Merry Christmas!” and headed back into the family room to finish the opening of the presents, you were still not sure it had really been him.

But this morning, while you were sitting in the kitchen, drinking the coffee and debating whether or not you should get dressed and go into the office, the doorbell rang.

You pulled your housecoat tight around you, and went to the door, where you discovered the courier standing on the front step. He said your name. You signed the receipt. And then he handed you the thirty-five pound turkey, together with the envelope containing the fancy Christmas card and the substantial, year-end bonus check, with the words “Merry Christmas!” scrawled in the spidery script on the subject line.

And now, you are sitting at your computer thinking about getting some new shoes…

Manolo Blahnik Clausado Dorsay Pump

Something like these Maestro Manolo Blahnik Clausado D’Orsay Pumps in this rich blue color…. You have certainly earned them.

Yet One More Reason to Love the Maestro…

He does not know who the Suri Cruise is!

As always, the Maestro Manolo Blahnik delights and amuses.

And, just in time for the Christmas, he has produced (with Camilla Morton) the seasonally appropriate fantasy picture book…Manolo Blahnik and the Tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker

Manolo Blahniks the Elves and the Shoemaker A Fashion Fairytale

Ayyyy! He does not know who is Suri Cruise AND he has the new book. That is not one, but two reasons to love the maestro!

Manolo Blahnik Suede Ankle Boot for the Monday

Manolo says, from Aquinas:

Pulchritudo non habet rationem appetibilis nisi inquantum induit rationem boni: Sic enim et verum appetibile est: Sed secundum rationem propriam habet claritatem

Our friend Eco says that this is Aquinas’s proof that beauty, goodness, and truth are “equivalent and convertible”.

But, the Manolo does not need the Aquinas, nor the Eco, to know this.

All the humble shoeblogger must do to understand that truth and beauty and goodness are the same is gaze upon this…

Manolo Blahnik Pointy-Toed Suede Ankle Boot

The pointy-toed suede snkle boot from the Maestro Manolo Blahnik.

Manolo Blahnik Suede & Raccoon Fur Boot for the Tuesday

Manolo says, it is Tuesday, and you are back at your desk, and the Manolo is finally getting around to welcoming the new week with the short essay.

Yesterday you were saying to yourself, “what gives with the Manolo, he’s usually posted one of his Monday stories by now.”

To which the Manolo would reply, of the course the Manolo was not available! Yesterday was the International Talk Like the Pirate Day!

The Manolo began the celebrations early, and by the time he thought to post his Monday story, the spirits of the day (both abstract pirate good cheer and concrete rum) had already begun to possess the Manolo. Frankly, the phrase, “You arrrrgggh indeed most super fantastic, matey,” does not trip lightly off of the tongue, and so the Manolo decided to retire to his cabin early to recover.

But, today, to make up for it, the Manolo will show you something wonderful….

Manolo Blahnik Suede & Racoon Fur Boot

The suede and raccoon fur boots from the Maestro Manolo Blahnik!

Beautiful pirate boots for beautiful sophisticated womens!

Manolo Blahnik Strappy Suede Sandals for the Monday

Manolo says, it is Monday and you are back at your desk slaving away for man, the weekend the fast fading memory.

Sadly, most of these weekends are not even worth remembering, given over as they are to the demands of the lawn care, and the house care, and the car care, and the laundry care, and all of the niggling little cares that weigh down the suburban homeowner.

It was not always thus. Once, when you and Gary were first married, you had the romantic dreams of walk-up flats in Paris and long trips to the Greek isles, where you would squeeze the juice out of life together.

Now, on the Saturdays, it is up early and off to the garden store, where you spend several hours shopping for the new edge-trimmers, and the pesticides, and the black spot resistant roses, which is sad because neither of you really enjoy the gardening.

Then, as you are heading out, you notice that Gary has gotten busy loading hundred-pound bags of colored stone (mostly reds and blues) onto your shopping cart.

“What are you doing,” you ask.

“Xeriscape!” shouts Gary, “We need to xeriscape the whole damn thing. Front yard, back yard, side yards. Hell, xeriscape the living room.”

“What are you talking about?’

“Low-maintenance, low-water landscaping. Xeriscaping. Saw it is Sunset while I was waiting at the oil change place. Tear up the whole yard, lay down colored stone and plant cactuses. Prickly pears, and barrel cactuses, and maybe some giant saguaro.”

“Gary, honey,” when he gets like this you have to gently talk him down, “we live in Ohio.”

It is moments like this that make you realize that shoes are nature’s own Prozac.

Manolo Blahnik Strappy Suede Sandals

Look, what could be more soothing and satisfying than strappy suede sandals from the Maestro Manolo Blahnik?

You know, maybe some colored rocks in the side yard aren’t such the bad idea.

Blahnik Tonic for the Blahs

Manolo says, the Manolo, who has been dumped in the downs these past few weeks, has decided he must self-medicate, and what better way than with the invigorating shoes from the Maestro Manolo Blahnik?

For those suffering from the low energy, the Cerreto Buckle Snakeskin d’Orsay Pumps from the Maestro Manolo Blahnik is perhaps restorative of vigor….

Cerreto Buckle Snakeskin d'Orsay Pumps

And if, like the Manolo, you are experiencing the surfeit of black bile, which to the person of normally sanguine temperament is quite distressing, then perhaps the Arsenia Metallic Leather Peep-Toe Pumps will put your humours back into balance.

Arsenia Metallic Leather Peep-Toe Pumps

Simple but effective cures from that most honored of physicians, Manolo Blahnik.

My Top 5 Movies About Shoes

Ahh the cinema. Who doesn’t love curling up on the couch, perhaps with a loved one, a good friend, or simply a snuggie, and getting lost in the magical world of movie-dom? Regardless of what your interest, chances are pretty high that you will be able to find a film that suits your fancy. Be it romance, action, comedy, horror, or a true to life documentary, there is always a title out there to titillate your mind and stimulate your senses. “But what about shoes?” you ask? No worries, I’ve got you covered. While there is no cinematic “shoe” genre, in many of these films shoes are centric and crucial to the storyline, or at least the presence of shoes is so strong throughout the production that they deserve a spot in the credits…

Tom Hanks One Red Shoe

5. The Man with One Red Shoe (1985): The ultimate movie about a friendly prank going terribly wrong, this adorable comedy follows Tom Hanks as he accidentally get’s followed by the CIA because he is wearing mismatched shoes (one of the shoes being red). Why was he wearing mismatched shoes? Because his so called buddy hid all of his shoes except for one mismatched pair. And why did the CIA begin to follow him? A terrible coincidence orchestrated by a crooked and desperate agent. Thus, comedy ensues! Plus this is “Big” and “Splash” Tom Hanks, when he is all fresh faced and adorable, not the puffy and serious Tom Hanks we know now. Enjoy him and his youth-like hilarity.

 

Marie Antoinette Manolo

4. Marie Antoinette (2006): Ok, this movie is not about shoes. However, Sophia Coppola’s imaginative take on the historical character did involve a mouth watering montage of whimsical Manolo Blahnik shoes (which were said to be visually inspired by a package of macaroons). The sequence, set to the song “I Want Candy” displays the sheer overindulgence of royalty in this time period with women playing games, eating delectable desserts, trying on gowns, wigs, jewels and of course…shoes. It will make you cringe with jealousy and drool in awe. Either way, I dare you to walk away from the scene without being green eyed and satisfied.

The Red Shoes

3. The Red Shoes (1948): This one works on many levels. A tumultuous tale of love triangles, bright red ballet shoes, and the inner struggle between the true love of a companion and the true passion of stardom, this film is exciting, romantic and filled with dancing. Not to mention, in the film the young ballerina is cast in a ballet production called “The Red Shoes” which is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale of the same title. The fairytale is about a young girl who becomes so obsessed with her red shoes that they take hold of her and force her body to dance day and night without her control. Here’s the kicker (pun intended), the shoes are stuck to her feet so she can’t take them off to stop the dancing. Sounds like a great workout plan, if you ask me. (Note: there is also a great Japanese horror film by the same name about a cursed pair of red heels that when seen cause instant obsession and an overwhelming need to steal/obtain them. The problem is, side effects of obtaining and wearing the shoes include: death).

The Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers

2.The Wizard of OZ (1939): All you have to do is put on a pair of Ruby red slippers and you can be transported into a world of Technicolor and flying monkeys? Count me in! This film is the ultimate in childhood fantasy. What young girl hasn’t been Dorothy for Halloween? (I was…twice). Not the mention the beauty, elegance and desirability of shimmering Ruby red slippers that enable one to travel to different dimensions! You won’t find those on sale at Nordstroms. This movie is timeless, and while it has been re-done in many shapes and fashions, in my mind nothing beats the original.

 

Cinderella Glass Slipper

1. Cinderella (1950): Romantic and magical, I think the ultimate shoe movie has to be the Disney classic Cinderella. Again, this film has been done time and time again in different styles and mediums, but all in all the story remains the same. It’s all about that beautiful glass slipper. While there is no way a glass shoe could be comfortable, and god knows if I was ballroom dancing in one I would shatter the poor thing all over the floor, this glass slipper is not only Cinderella’s ticket to her one true love, but it is also her ticket out of slavery and poverty! Now that my friends is a shoe worth keeping. Especially if you get a fairy god mother included in the original price of the shoe, because New York car services and cabs are expensive and I would love my own personal stage coach to cart me from a to b.

P.S. Probably the only type of shoes there might not be a movie about it is Timberland work boots. Although, if you look closely, I’m sure you’ll see them in plenty of recent movies.

Manolo Blahnik Pubil Leather Sandals For the Monday

Manolo says, it is Monday and you are back at your desk recovering from the day-long festivities of Easter.

Yesterday morning, it was up early, into the Easter finery, and off to the church, where you frantically search for the seats in the packed room… oh look…it is cousin Barney, and there is the space next to him for the whole family, if you pack in very tightly and do not breathe in unison.

Then the festivities began with one of your favorite hymns, that old showstopper, “Up from the grave he arose, with the mighty triumph o’er his foes, he arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign!”

Unfortunately, this was followed by one of those modern songs the kids supposedly like, the shapeless piece of music which sounds like the weakest song on latest 3 Doors Down album. That would not be so bad, except the song promotes this vague theology centered on the awesome awesomeness of the awesome God. Say what you will about the old hymns, but they were written by the people who knew their way around both the G-clef and the King James Version.

And then it was time for the pastor to give his homily, which you enjoyed greatly, even if your children (whom you had forcibly deprived of their electronic devices) fidgeted nervously in their seats, while your husband Gary dozed softly, comfortably wedged into one of Cousin Barney’s fleshy folds.

Later, at home, you will dine like American royalty on ham, green beans, potatoes au gratin, lemon meringue pie, and the angel food cake.

Manolo Blahnik Pubil Leather Sandals

And today, you will feast your eyes upon these beautiful Maestro Manolo Blahnik Pubil Leather and Snakeskin Sandals

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