Fred Perry Stampdown Shoes for the Wednesday before Christmas

Manolo says, it is Wednesday and you are back at your desk, and you just realized that you have completely forgotten to do the shopping for your 22-year-old nephew, the one studying in the UK, who is not coming home for Christmas, and whom your daughter says has gone completely native.

“What does that mean,” you ask, “gone native?”

This is the pertinent question, because when you think of the young people dressing in the identifiably British manner it involves dirty jeans, torn leather jackets, and the mohawk hairdos. (For your older sister it would be nehru jackets and mop tops.)

“Well, from what I can tell from Skyping him, I think it’s sort of preppy”

“L.L. Bean preppy?”

“Nah, less fuddy-duddy, more international. Think polo shirts and Fred Perry.”

Great, and now where to find these preppy items and get them to your nephew in time for the big day? So you search the web and you come up with this very well reviewed online store which has the good things like the handsome Hugo Boss wallet and the Denham polo shirts, and promises the next day delivery in the UK, and fast delivery worldwide.

And after much looking at the site you narrow your choices down to the Original Penguin polo in purple…

And the Ferry Kingston Stampdown Stripe Shoes in the red canvas.

And so you call your daughter in and ask her what she thinks.

“He’ll love any one, but the shoes are cool.”

And, that is all you needed to know.

Manolo the Columnist: from Stuart Weitzman

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

Dear Manolo,

My semi-serious boyfriend of five months, has asked me to come to his parents’ house for dinner on Christmas Day. I met them once before, and I don’t think it went so well, so I really want to make a good impression
this time. What do you suggest?

Jeannie

Manolo says, there are the reasons why the holidays are usually reckoned to be the most stressful time of the year. Not only must we get everyone the exactly perfect gift, and make every meal and every occasion festively wonderful, but we are frequently required to make nice with people who may not be especially fond of us.

And yet, this is for the best, is it not? It is good that we should attempt to be reconciled, one to another, during this most wonderful time of the year.

This is why the celebrations and the holidays are so important, because they are moments in which we can put aside our differences be drawn closer together as humans. And so, we must approach these events in the proper
spirit of charity and love, reminding ourselves that in doing so we are helping to make our relationships stronger.

Of the course, it helps if you have handsome shoes, shoe which impart confidence and make you seem like the person of quality. Here is the Spymid from Stuart Weitzman, the modest peep-toe pump in the color known as “Fire Quasar”.

Spymid from Stuart Weitzman

Whose Shoes Wednesday…The Answer!

Manolo asked, whose shoes?

Manolo answers, it is the Gloria Estefan!

Congratulations to the Manolo’s internet friend, the Retna, who correctly identified this week’s spicy Latina personage of note on the first guess.

Whose Shoes Wednesday

Manolo asks, whose shoes?

Belinda from Salvatore Ferragamo for the Monday

Manolo says, it is Monday and you are back at your desk, counting down the days to the Christmas eve and the arrival of the Santy Claus.

This year, unlike many years in the past, you did much of your shopping in the week immediately after the festival of Thanksgiving, choosing to do most of your gift-getting on the line, thus avoiding the many hassles of the in-person shopping at the mall.

Frankly, although you appreciate the convenience, the ease of the modern shopping (browse, point, click, enter the information of the card of credit) actually seems to take some of the joyousness and meaning out of the season. Finding the exactly right gift for each person on your list is not supposed to be so easy!

Have you learned nothing from literature? Are you not supposed to sell your very hair to find your beloved husband the modern equivalent of the platinum watch fob chain?

But, then, through the magic of Google, you learn that the secondary market for used hair is not what it used to be. And besides, given your age, you will need all of the hair you can hang onto going forward.

Sigh.

Such are the problems of prosperity, that we now worry that our lives have become too easy to be meaningful.

All the Manolo can say is, don’t worry! Christmas is coming!

Look! Beautiful and elegant mid-heel D’Orsay pumps…
Belinda from Salvatore Ferragamo

The Belinda from Salvatore Ferragamo!

Manolo the Columnist: Bardot from Munro American

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

Dear Manolo,

I walk at least 1 mile (sometimes 2) every day between buses and Metro stations. When it snows my flats aren’t good enough, but snow boots are often too much. What sort of shoes can I wear to and from work that are stylish and lightweight but will help me safely navigate snow and ice patches?

Cristina

Manolo says, the Manolo can never remember, is the Washington, D.C., supposed to be the Southern city that thinks it is Northern, or the Northern city that thinks it is Southern? Or should we simply say, “Mid-Atlantic”, which makes it sound as if it were located somewhere near the Azores Islands.

Either way, the Washington weather is always the topic of amusement and astonishment. Yes, the autumns are gorgeous, the springs sublime, and the summers unbearably hot and humid.

But it is the winters — often clement, frequently rainy, and occasionally snowpocalypsy – with their extreme variability that makes it difficult to find the single pair of winter shoes suitable for all occasions. One minute it is the balmy stroll to the bus stop, and the next you are like Yukon Cornelius wrestling with the Abominable Snow Monster in the peppermint mines of the North Pole.

Here is the Bardot from Munro American, the sharp-looking, water-resistant ankle boot for those days when the snow is melting away.

Bardot from Munro American

What the Manolo Wants from Santy Claus

Manolo says, if you are shopping for the Manolo (and who is not these days?) please consider giving him the following gift.

Nespresso Citiz Aeroccino

The Manolo was recently the guest in the home whose kitchen was equipped with this, the
Nespresso Citiz Aeroccino C120.

Each morning, during his visit , the Manolo would awake at his customary late hour and head to the dining room, where he would sit for the few minutes before realizing that his hosts, being productive citizens, had already departed for the day.

Thus it was left to the Manolo to make his own coffee! Happily, this magnificent machine makes the perfect cup every time, without the special coffee barista training. Truly we live in the age of wonders and miracles!

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!

Bonnie and Clyde, the Musical

Manolo says, two years ago, the Manolo did the little comparison of the real outlaws, Bonnie and Clyde, with the fake movie star outlaws, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, in which the Manolo came to the conclusion that the real Bonnie and Clyde were more stylish and elegant than the movie stars, using photos such as they for the examples….

Bonnie Parker and Faye Dunaway

Allow the Manolo to stipulate that you would have to be as tiny as Bonnie to pull off that fascinating blouse with the faux cropped-jacket detailing. It is far more original and impressive than anything cooked up by the talented Theadora Van Runkle, who was nominated for the Oscar for Best Costume Design for the movie.

These photos are also striking because the take us beyond the differences in clothing and physical beauty, (Faye Dunaway is indisputably beautiful, and dressed by the famous professional, and yet Bonnie outshines her) into the realm of attitude and posture and pose.

The pose is superficially the same, but while Bonnie is all sinuous s-curves (hips, bosom, arms, legs), Dunaway is angular and erect. Faye leans away from us, Bonnie leans in. Dunaway is imperious and haughty; Bonnie frank, direct, and exceedingly dangerous.

It is one of the most fascinating feminine comparisons the Manolo has ever seen.

And now, today, in the New York Times there is the not so favorable review of the new Broadway musical version of the Bonnie and Clyde, accompanied with these photos..

Bonnie and Clyde the Musical

Bonnie and Clyde, the Musical

That dress! The Manolo loves it all over again and gives special accolades to the costume designer, Tobin Ost, for including this striking example of the pre-war American design.

Unfortunately, as the NY Times reviewer notes, even with the right outfits, it is not the clothes that makes the scrappy, outlaw woman…

Ms. Osnes is a lovely young woman of fashion-model proportions and an instinctive, accessible elegance that reads Ingénue. (She was perfect as the romantic lead in the current revival of “Anything Goes.”)

I don’t think ingénue was what Bonnie Parker was about. Ms. Osnes brings to mind a Bennington girl slumming with rough trade on her semester off.

And this was also the biggest problem with Faye Dunaway, that she was essentially unconvincing as the Depression-Era, Texas outlaw. But, then again, this is the problem with most modern actors, that they lack the breadth of life experience to convincingly portray the historic figures. (For the example, generally likeable, pretty boy actors of moderate shallowness should not be allowed to play Achilles.)

Likewise, the Manolo has the difficult time even imagining the actress who could do credible justice to the Bonnie Parker. Perhaps the young Holly Hunter?

And now, as the special bonus, here is the Tobin Ost talking about some of the costumes for the Bonnie and Clyde musical…

Manolo the Columnist: Cate the Great from Sorel

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

Dear Manolo,

For Christmas, I’d like to buy my little sister, who’s a first year student at a university in the upper Midwest, a new pair of winter boots. Can you recommend something warm and stylish that won’t break my bank?

Chloe

Manolo says, each year when the weather turns chilly, the Mediterranean Manolo begins to look for the handsome fur coat. Sadly, the two most readily available styles for the men are best described as the “Yukon Prospector” and the “Euro-Pimp Ski Trash”, neither of which suits nor excites the Manolo.

And thus you now understand why the Manolo prefers to live in the place where the temperatures rarely drop below the 60 degrees of Fahrenheit, because he is allergic to the way Gore-tex looks.

But there are many other peoples who love the frosty mornings, when the skin on their faces freezes to zippers of their puffy, down-filled plastic coats. Still, winter is not without its pleasures, chiefly among which are the joys of wearing furry boots while imagining that you are Julie Christie waiting for Dr. Omar Zhivago to arrive at your secret winter dacha.

Here is the Cate the Great from the Sorel. Not exactly Dr. Zhivago-ish, but still cute, fun, and extremely practical for dealing with the frigid Midwestern winters.

Cate the Great from Sorel

Four New Books Suitable for the Gifting

Manolo says, the holidays, they are upon us like the hungry red-and-green colored lion! Quick, you must make it happy by purchasing gifts of merit!

Thus, here are four books published in the past year that are worth giving to the people about whom you care.

1.
The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden

The duchess of smart Mediterranean cooking books, Claudia Roden, is back with this worthy entry, The Food of Spain.

2.
The Sisters Brothers

It is no secret that the Manolo is intensely fond of the comic novel, and this book about the pair of sibling hired killers, The Sisters Brothers, is the best comic novel of the past year.

3.
The Founding Gardeners

For the gardening gnome in your life, what better gift than The Founding Gardeners: How the Revolutionary Generation Created an American Eden, where they were learn that Thomas Jefferson proclaimed the flowering acacia to be “the most delicious flowering shrub in the world.” (And who knew those things were even edible!)

Fashion

The Manolo loves this comprehensive book, FASHION: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers, Labels by the Charlotte Seeling. It is encyclopedic without being dull and dry, and has pretty pictures by the score. This would be the perfect thing for the young person who has the deep interest in the fashion, but little knowledge of its history.

Gift Suggestions for the Cyber Monday

Manolo says, it is Monday and you are back at your desk frantically trying to find the gifts for your beloved ones. Yes, you had the big plans to go out on the Black Friday and fist-fight with the crowds to find things worthy of putting under the trees of Christmas, but then a) you decided that getting up at three in morning to go to the Wal-Mart was ridiculous, and b) in the mid-morning, as you were getting ready to leave, you heard on the radio that there was the 14-mile traffic jam on all the roads leading to the mall, which convinced you to stay at home, eating turkey sandwiches and reading the hospital-themed romance novels.

Happily, today is the Cyber Monday, when the machines do the shopping for us!

Or, perhaps not.

Sadly, until the scientific panjandrums perfect the robotic you, you will still have to do your own holiday shopping, although, thanks to the ancient and hallowed traditions of the Cyber Monday, you can do it on company time!

Allow the Manolo to suggest a few things that might make your life better:

For the hunky man in your life…

Victorinox Mahale Zip Cardigan

The Victorinox Mahale Zip Cardigan available in the three colors (charcoal, black, and navy) is the sort of practical cotton sweater that even the most manly of man would be happy to don.

For the country lady…

Eugenia Kim Asymmetrical Cloche Hat

There is something about this Eugenia Kim asymmetrical cloche. that makes the Manolo very happy. Perhaps it is because the Manolo has recently been thinking how jolly it would be to visit the year 1927.

For anyone else who wishes to visit the year 1927…

The Best of Wodehouse

The Manolo just purchased The Best of Wodehouse for himself. He did not technically need it, as he owns several other Wodehouse anthologies and individual volumes, but the Manolo was traveling, and the vicissitudes of that overwhelmed the Manolo’s sensitive constitution.

Hence…Wodehouse, specifically the single funniest work in the English language, Uncle Fred in the Springtime. The Manolo asks you, what better gift to give the person of delicate and antique sensibilities?

For everyone who does not wish to live in 1927….


Kindle DX

Paper is dead, long live the book!

Or, at the least, long live the The Kindle DX the e-reader of choice for the Manolo because it has the screen that is 50% larger than the regular Kindle, meaning the Manolo can enlarge the font to maximum size, thus allowing him to pretend that he does not need the reading glasses.