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Fab Four: Wearable Midheels for Fall

Ah midheels, after a decade of skyscraper stilettos, the humble midheel is not only a sensible choice, but a surprisingly fresh one.


The mustard suede Salvatore Ferragamo Dalia has an elegantly balanced Louis heel and is on serious sale for an investment shoe.

The Maris from Paul Green is an easy schlepping around town heel, when one wants a bit of style to go with the schlep.

Although they’ve moved their manufacturing to China, Frye still offers great American classics like the  Regina Pump. Wouldn’t it be nice if they still made them in the USA?

King of the fabric shoes Badgley Mischka  offers the Monika. Remember, formal events, especially in the evening, require fabric, not leather shoes, and these fit the bill without being too bridal party.

Shoes Are Magic

Manolo says, the Manolo’s smarty-smart friend the Virginia Postrel has posted at her Deep Glamour blog the interview the Manolo did with her the few months back, talking about the transformative magic inherent in the shoes.

Here is the excerpt to whet your appetite.

Q: Why are people so interested in shoes?

Magic Satin Pumps from Prada

Magic Satin Pump from Prada

Because shoes have magic in them. Our fairy tales are filled with stories of fantasy shoes: glass slippers, hundred league boots, ruby slippers, shoes in which old women reside, boots for sword fighting cats, shoes made by elvish cobblers at night, red ballet shoes which cause the wearer to dance incessantly, and on, and on.

Every child knows that shoes are magic. It is one of the first things you learn. Shoes are magic.

To be barefeeted in literature and in life is to be the pitiable creature. To have the shoes, even the most humble, is to be the person of some substance. When you put on the pair of the beautiful, well-made shoes that fit, you are filled with satisfaction and contentment; you look better, you stand taller, and you are more confident. Thus shoes work transformative magic. We all know this to be true, because we have all experienced it ourselves.

Even our modern shoes, in which the magic is usually latent, can be frequently beautiful. And when we buy beautiful shoes we believe we can imbue ourselves with some of this beauty. Pants are pants. Dresses are dresses. But it is only with the shoes on our feet that we are fully dressed. The ball gown, no matter how beautiful, is not complete until the dancing shoes have been put on.

Manolo says, it is not the ball gown, no matter how beautiful, nor the pumpkin coach that makes Cinderella the princess, it is the magic shoes.

Shoes are magic.

But, now you must go read the whole interview.

It’s a Look

to quote our dear friend Thombeau…but is it enough?

This ever-subtle wedge comes from that master of the understatement, Christian Louboutin.

Somewhere in Shepherd’s Bush Holland Park, Edina Monsoon is missing a hoof cover.

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: Jodi from Diane von Furstenberg

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

Dear Manolo,

I have a trip coming up in November to New York! I will be singing with a number of choirs in the Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center and after our performance we have a gala to attend. I am planning on finding a little black dress to wear for the event, but I could really use some advice on some great heels to go with it. Any suggestions!

Heidi

Manolo says, how do you get to the Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center? Practice, practice, practice.

Yes, it is the old joke, but it is funny because being the good chorister is the difficult thing to master, relying as it does upon both the hours and the hours of practice, and the unusual combination of the personal traits.

Firstly, you have to be the good enough singer to qualify to carry the tune. Unless you are exceptional, it is unlikely that your famous rendition of “The Unchained Melody”, in which you hit all of the high notes flawlessly, will sound quite as good when not accompanied by water shooting out of your showerhead.

Secondly, your ego must not be overweening, making you think that every solo should be yours. Indeed, you must be humble enough to recognize that, during certain times of the year, your entire vocal repertoire will consist of the word “Hallelujah” sung repeatedly until you are forever sick of it. (“Curse you George Frideric Handel!”)

Look! Here is the Jodi from Diane von Furstenberg, the suede platform sandal with just the right amount of celebratory gold.

Jodi from Diane von Furstenberg

The Continental

People say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. False. The road to Hell is paved in cobblestones, which means you can’t wear heels. That’s what makes it Hell.

When I first expatriated, I lived in a little village paved with the Devil’s bunions and it was a two mile walk to the restaurant that provided most of my sustenance. I walked eight miles a day that car-less summer. Heels were out of the question. I used bronze Roman sandals instead. After all, a girl must have some glamor.

Even when I had wheels, I still refused to risk a broken ankle –or worse, a scuffed heel– by wearing stilettos unless someone agreed to carry me bodily to my vehicle; a daunting task, especially if you’re not set up with the appropriate winches, pulleys and hydraulic jacks.

As luck would have it, I was the only woman in the village young enough not to know a time when mammoth was a nutritious part of your complete breakfast and I struck up a friendship with an enormous (and enormously smitten) former Golden Gloves boxer who bore a striking resemblance to Zeus, assuming Zeus was Latino and spent most of his life getting punched in the head for money.

Now I know I’m in a committed relationship and all, but seriously, if you’ve never tried Greek God as a mode of transportation, I highly commend it.

However, if you can’t find your own punch-drunk Olympian to haul you around your town like a sack of well-shod potatoes, never fear. The Continental heel is making a slow but steady return to fashion.

So wait, what is a Continental heel?

The Continental heel –pictured above lending its graceful curve to a pair of Robert Clergerie booties— is closely related and thus often confused with the Louis heel. Of course it doesn’t help that half the shoes labeled as a Louis heel are actually Continentals.

They’re both flared heels, that much is true.

However, a Louis heel has a height limit –a true Louis can’t be more than 3″ high.

See, good ol’ King Louis XIV of France was one of those pocket monarchs, so he took to wearing heels to give himself a 3″ boost. Then he forbade anyone to wear heels higher than his, because apparently that’s what you do when you’re king.

King Louis XIV of France, fresh off his fabulous Las Vegas revue, sporting a pair of Louis heels

A Louis heel also traditionally has a curved breast, meaning the front part of the heel –the part that faces the toe– tapers and flares the echo the back part. Continental heels have the same curved or tapered back, but the breast is flat or nearly so.

I think we’re due for a comeback of a thicker heel.

We had a few seasons where Prada was showing banana heels everywhere but it didn’t last. I’d really like to see a serious return to one of the original sculptural heels. They’re pretty, fresh-looking and –for my purposes anyway– infinitely easier to deploy on cobblestones. Not that I’ll be telling Zeus Golden Gloves that.


Fit Note:
Robert Clergerie runs pretty true to size for length, but designs for women with banana feet. If you’ve got narrow feet, you’re in luck. Everyone else, size up and pray.

Zanotti, Morrissey and the (almost) death of a cobbler

After our recent Is It A Shoe contest, I feel perhaps we’ve given Guiseppe Zanotti the fuzzy end of the proverbial lollipop.

True, he is guilty of the spiky horse hoof shoe, not to mention these:

Thousand dollar hooker shoesDavy Crockett should punch you in the face for this

(these are all from several seasons ago, and yes, the dollar sign shoes would’ve set you back a cool grand)

Yes, he does tend to err slightly on the Russian Mafia Call Girl side of things from time to time but he’s also capable of walking that fine edge of playful elegance just as well as his fellow countrymen Dolce and Gabbana.

Some of his more restrained offerings are among my favorites in my personal collection.

I once rained down fire on a cobbler who, without my permission, added grippy rubber half-soles in a particularly abysmal shade of Stalinist utilitarian gray to a beautiful pair of black patent court shoes with an exquisite lacquered wood heel.

He thought he was doing me a favor.

I don’t remember the entire conversation, but I seem to recall non-voluntary circumcision coming up somewhere. I’m not in jail though, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually do it.

He’s also got an irresistible whiff of Morrissey about him, (Zanotti, not the cobbler) which makes sense as before he found his, er, footing he was a DJ in the 80’s.

It also explains why I alternately adore him and want to throw him off a roof.

Still, in the spirit of fairness, I thought I’d offer you some of Guido’s more approachable efforts, all of which are available on considerable sale at The Outnet, though some sizes might be limited.

Just click the images for the links.


Fit Note: Zanotti builds on a comparatively generous last, so his shoes tend to be wider than many other premium designers. They run pretty true to size, so if you’re used to sizing up, you might not have to with him. Also, he does pony/calf hair (same thing, no ponies were harmed) better than any other designer I’ve encountered. It’s smooth, glossy and doesn’t tuft out everywhere a week after you bring them home. I’ve worn a pair of his pony sandals regularly for about six years and the calf hair has stayed in place marvelously. Highly recommended.

Manolo the Columnist: Manda from Kate Spade NY

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

Dear Manolo,

My fabulous cousin, whose birthday is the day after mine, and has been an anchor through many crises, turned 40 a couple of weeks ago. I’m sorry to say I had to miss her surprise party because I was away on a business trip. But, it is not too late for giving wonderful surprise birthday presents. Might you have a suggestion?

Monica

Manolo says, perhaps it is the gypsy in the Manolo, but the Manolo cannot help but love the giant, big families, with the thirteen children, and the twenty-dozen cousins of the varying degrees.

Especially the first cousins, who because they are not always around like the siblings, can be great sources of support and amusement, without the attendant rivalry, jealousy, and periodic fist-fighting. And this is the secret to the relationship, you have the same grandmamma and the same grandpapa, but you also have the different parents! The truth is hiding in plain sight, so obvious, and yet so powerful.

Who else but the first cousin would readily agree to accompany you your on your schemes of mayhem and glory, without trying to steal the parental affection that will be required when you return home in ignominy?

For the example, the teeny Manolo and his own favorite first cousin, Teofilo, often sought out adventure in the countryside around the caravans. Ayyy! How many times did they have to scamper back home covered in purloined watermelon, the authorities in full cry behind them, only to split apart at the final moment, Teofilo to his mother’s lap and the Manolo to his own beloved mama’s.

Here is the Manda from Kate Spade New York in the poetical anthracite starlight finish, perfect for the beloved accomplice on the occasion of her belated fortieth birthday.

Manda from Kate Spade NY

Is It A Shoe RESULTS

Last week I invited you all to play the fun new game “Is It a Shoe?” wherein I displayed an object (below) that might or might not be intended for use on a human foot.

I then invited readers to answer two questions.

  • Is it a shoe?
  • If not, what is it?

and there are a few awards to hand out

Superfantastic reader Marvel gets induction into The Order of the Shiny Apple for mentioning Joan Crawford, which I’d mentioned would garner extra points, while Fran, wins the coveted Nostradamus Tiara of Unfortunate Plausibility for suggesting:

Lady Gaga and Damien Hirst are proud to present their first child; it will be auctioned in a Qatari art gallery at the modest asking price of 2,375 gazillion of the US dollars.

The tiara is, as per previously outlined specifications, cut in half and floating in formaldehyde with a cow’s eyeball.

Sadly, in games like in relationships, there can be only one winner and this week it’s the lovely and fragrant Jo, who offered this gem:

Not a shoe. This is a sad genetic experiment gone wrong. This is what you get when you cross a porcupine with a magpie – a fetish for spines and shiny things. We should put it out of its misery, as it would never survive in the wild. However, we’ll probably see it around some pecuniarily over-endowed chit’s ankles as the latest fad for fashion pets continues.

For her troubles, Jo is appointed Chair of Cryptozoology and Sparkly Things at Our Lady of the Sacred Slingback University.

Thanks to all who played! Be sure to join us again soon for…

 

 

Smoking Slippers, Yea or Nay?

I’m just not sure about this whole smoking slipper trend.

(These are from Ralph Lauren. Sort of a “I stole the altar hangings from a church during Lent” look about them but in a nice way. Click image for link)

I actually quite like smoking slippers as a species for private use.

I even have a custom pair with my initials and Latin family motto and everything. Got ’em in London seven or eight years ago when I first girlishly dabbled in bespoke footwear.

I’d pinched my pennies hard and the brutal exchange rate at the time –2:1 dollars to pounds– pinched them harder so I’d juuuust about managed to afford two pair of whipsnake d’Orsays plus a cheap seat to Equus back when people cared about Daniel Radcliffe’s uh, hufflepuff (and, from what I remember of the show, well before he learned the elusive yet powerful manscaping spell.)

The shoemaker was running some promotion where the third pair was 50% off and the smoking slippers were the only kicks I could afford and still pack both of my kidneys on the long flight home (my liver I left somewhere north of Berwick-upon-Tweed.)

It’s just…I mean…do they feel a little  Let Them Eat Cake right now, given the current extreme levels of social and political divisiveness, in a way that’s just slightly different from regular “status” shoes to anyone else?

Like a little too eager to harken back to the good old days of Britain when we imagine everyone acted just like characters from an Oscar Wilde play and everything was great and too, too refined provided you were white, male and had scads of money (you know, as opposed to the times in history where being a rich white guy has been such a disadvantage) It just strikes me as tone deaf.

Is it me? It’s probably just me.

It’s like the old relative you know and love, the one who slipped you twenties in your birthday card when everyone else gave you two freshly-ironed dollar bills, but is, well, kinda racist.

It’s like you’ve brought your new boyfriend to meet the family for dinner and everything’s fine and all of a sudden your beloved great uncle says “You know what I like about Obama?” and you just sit there praying to God harder than you’ve ever prayed for anything that didn’t involve peeing on a stick that the big reveal won’t involve the phrase “so well-spoken.”

But of course it does, and it just hangs in the air above the decorative fish platter like this giant awkward thing (not unlike the decorative fish platter itself) until someone changes the subject or you commit ritual suicide with a bread knife

It probably doesn’t matter. In a few months cheap and cheerful versions of the traditionally British social signifiers will flood the market and with dilution of design will come dilution of the message, kind of like wearing delicate little slippers once either meant you were posh (in the UK) or quite possibly a prostitute (in Louisiana) I don’t know.

Am I overthinking this? Put it in the comments.

 

Manolo the Columnist: Flatiron from Stuart Weitzman

Manolo says, her this the Manolo’s latest column for the Express of the Washington Post.

Dear Manolo

I am only 44 but was recently diagnosed with arthritis in my knees and was told by my doctor NO high heels. Any time I cheat and wear even a low heel (2 inches) I end up in pain for three days, so I’m back to flats. This summer has been fine because I can get away with ballet flats, and I can wear riding boots with skirts in the winter, but when I need to look really professional for special meetings and presentations, I need to wear skirt suits, and a very professional-looking shoe. Can you help me find a flat, comfortable, but professional-looking shoe?

Beth

Manolo says, ayyyy! It is true, time is cruel!

One minute you are the 22-year-old hottie, who looks amazingly great dressed only in the ill-fitting burlap sack from the Sears, and the next you are twice that age and have just received the personal letters from both the Dolce and the Gabbana asking you to please, please, please stop wearing their clothing. (And, look! Stefano has even enclosed the check and the Talbots catalog!)

And this says nothing about the various infirmities and physical indignities that are brought by the process of aging. Indeed, the Manolo, who is the gentleman of the certain age, has his own trick knee, one which renders him unable to walk without the slight limp, or drink vin ordinaire.

Here is the Flatiron from the Stuart Weitzman, the smashingly smashing dress flat in the rich cognac anilie finsh that will leave the teeny boppers in their burlap dresses gaping with envy.

Flatiron from Stuart Weitzman

Is It a Shoe?

Last week I introduced my loyal readers at Manolo for the Big Girl (which is about way more than big girl stuff, in case you’re interested but are worried about catching fat from the internet) to the fun new game, “Is It a Shoe?”

The rules are easy. I provide an image of something that may or may not be footwear, and you answer two simple questions:

Is it a shoe?

If not, what is it?

The winner will be picked the next week and lauded with palm branches or whatever else I find handy.

Ready? Let’s play!

Is it a shoe?

Remember, points are awarded on wit, intellect and gratuitous references to Joan Crawford. Just kidding, there’s no such thing as a gratuitous reference to Joan Crawford.

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