Manolo the Columnist: Vivian from Badgley Mischka

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


Dear Manolo,

I survived Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday all in fine fettle. Now, however, I’m faced with the ultimate holiday season test, my husband’s office Christmas party. Not only will my husband’s boss be there, but the boss’s boss, and the boss’s boss’s boss, all the way up to the CEO. I’ve got my little black dress, and now I need some pretty shoes, something under $200 if you can manage, please.

Jennifer

Manolo says, ayyyy! The moment of great danger approaches, when the innocent young peoples who have ventured forth, Hansel and Gretel style, into the deep thicket of The Corporate Woods, encounter the gingerbread house at the center.

Yes, at the first glance, the holiday office party would appear to be festive sort of thing, with the decorations, the twinkling lights, and the row of smiling bosses with their skinny-toned, Harvard MBA, trophy wives.

But do not be deceived, young person, for there are traps and monsters and witches waiting for you, eager to pull you from the career ladder and devour your chances at getting your own reserved parking space in the office garage.

Keep in mind these sensible rules of proper behavior: Do not talk about the election just past; do not have that third glass of champagne; and do not, under any circumstances, dance with the boss, the boss’s boss, or the boss’s boss’s boss to the “slow jam”.

Look! Here is the Vivian from the Badgley Mischka, the strappy sandal in the metallic silvery color that seems sufficiently festive for the happily ever after.

Vivian from Badgley Mishka

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.

Manolo in the Daily Dot

Manolo says, in case you missed this, last week, the Manolo wrote the small piece for the Daily Dot website about the pernicious effects of the fancy food blogs…

It is all because of the deleterious effects of the food blogs that early this morning you had to make the special trip to that hipster butcher shop, you know the one with the nice young men who have the arms full of tattoos and wear the ironic handlebar mustachios. Unfortunately, because of the food blogs, you had no choice. You had to pick up the organic, pastured, free-range, eighteen-pound heirloom turkey, which had been ordered directly from the farmer for your big Thanksgiving meal.

When you got to the check out counter, you were afraid to look while the Betty Boop-a-like girl in the polka-dot kerchief rang you up, so you just handed over your debit card and pretended to examine the copy of Adbusters. It was one hundred and nineteen dollars and change. More money than you had paid for the past six holiday turkeys combined, all of them honest Butterball toms who had given their lives in noble service to gluttony and national pride.

You had not wanted to spend so much money on the bird, but two years ago it was your brother’s turn to host the family festival, and his wife (who is the adjunct professor of sociology down at the junior college) served the organic free-range turkey, which everyone, including your husband Gary, praised as “the best bird ever.”

What made this all so galling is that your sister-in-law has her own silly food blog, (silly, despite the fact that it was nominated for the James Beard Award for Excellence in Pornographic Food Photography, which it thankfully did not win) which means that on Friday morning the entire interwebs were treated to the large picture of Gary, fork in mouth, being transported in orgasmic ecstasy to the ethereal plane of turkey delight. Tweeted and retweeted by the followers of your sister-in-laws blog, this photo of Gary had become, by the end of the weekend, its own meme, prominently featured above the fold on the Buzzfeed with the variety of captions, the majority of which were variations on the theme “Ermahgerd Terky!”

And now you must go read the rest of the piece.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Manolo wishes all of his internet friends the Happiest of Happy Thanksgivings.

There is so much for which the Manolo must be thankful, but chief among those things are you, dearest readers. Your generosity of spirit and willingness to indulge the Manolo here at his humble shoe blog have brought immeasurable joy. May your day be filled with family, friends, turkey, and all things super fantastic!

Happy Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving, the day on which people all over the great United States of America come together to gorge themselves on turkey and pretend they prefer foodie Aunt Clara’s pomegranate confit with pink shallot relish to the can-shaped cranberry deliciousness that won the Cold War.

Considering the American importance of the date –not only is it Thanksgiving, it’s the 49th anniversary of JFK assassination– I should do a retrospective of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’ fondness for Roger Vivier’s pilgrim pumps.

Unfortunately, I’m both lazy and jetlagged and so here’s a snap of the La Veuve Kennedy four years later in full New York swing sporting a pair of Vivier’s iconic buckled beauties.

Oh, and also a ridiculous platter of pumps.

White satin for autumn? I mean honestly.

Espadrille Hunting in Barcelona

I’m a bottle of wine, several razor-thin slices of Iberico ham and one digestif that tastes like burning tires into my afternoon recovery and I am still not emotionally prepared to discuss the heartache involved in finding La Manual Alpargatera, the century-old purveyor of espadrilles deep in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.

Handmade espadrilles taunting me

In the spirit of full disclosure, I really should’ve written down the address and not relied on the kooky idea that everyone would be as excited as I was about a sandal shop that’s been around since Wilbur Wright showed King Alfonso XIII the intricacies of his fabulous flying machine.

Alas, that was my first mistake.

My second mistake was a classic Southern one: relying on the kindness of strangers.

The anti-tourist sentiment in Barcelona is somewhat justifiably strong, and although I understand the feeling of having your city ruined by monied interlopers (does anyone remember how cool Austin used to be?) I am pretty much the ideal tourist, so I was surprised that the chill in the air came from the residents, not the weather system.

I mean seriously, I’m friendly, respectful, I speak the language (okay I speak Spanish not Catalan, but for an American that’s not half bad), I not only know, but actively care about how many weeks Carles Puyol, the questionably-coiffed captain of their beloved football team was out with an ugly elbow injury and I always, always differentiate between Catalunya and Spain. Plus I’ve got a big rack, and you know those things are accepted more places than Visa.

Xavi (left) and Carles Puyol could have had a V8

Xavi (left) and Carles Puyol could have had a V8.

Thankfully we ran into The Nicest Woman in Catalunya, proprietress of a little specialty food shop near the spectacular Palau de Music who not only laughed with us when she heard the completely awful directions one Barcelona denizen gave us, but drew us a map, and invited us to dinner if we were ever back in town.

We trekked the approximate six million city blocks back to the little shoe shop, located down an appealingly dark alley, spied the hundreds of colorful handmade espadrilles in the window and with a song in our hearts and euros in our pockets grabbed the door handle only to find it was closed.

Defeated, Hot Latin Boy and I slumped into a cab to go back to our hotel for a little siesta and liver damage a few minutes after 4:00. It was then, dear reader, I opened a minimized window on my laptop to discover the shoe shop wasn’t closed for the day. It reopened at 4:30.

I might try my luck again tomorrow if I’m still capable of self-ambulation, but I’ve got a little flamenco shop I want to visit to buy fans for the women in our dance troupe, and I figure I should start drawing a map right now. And also wear a minimizing bra. I tell you, these things are useless.

 

 

Manolo the Columnist:

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

Dear Manolo,

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, we’re having Thanksgiving at my house this year. I’ve never done this before, cooked a turkey-and-all-the-trimmings for 25 people. (How hard can it be, right?) So, I’ve ordered the turkey, and thought about seating arrangements, tried out various pumpkin-and-indian-corn centerpieces, but now I need some shoes, something comfortable enough for the kitchen, but attractive enough for the dining room.

Kelly

Manolo says, once again it is time for the peculiarly American festival of Thanksgiving, when we honor our Puritan ancestors, and give thanks to the God in the Heaven, by committing at least three, and possibly four, of the Seven Deadly Sins (Gluttony, Pride, Sloth, and if the traditional holds, Wrath.)

Speaking of the wrathfulness, this year, the conversations around the table should be especially fun, given the fact that 51% of the people present will be gloating about the recent election, while the other 49% will be working through the five stages of electoral grief.

Cooking Tip: For best eating results one should brine the turkey for at least 24 hours before the cooking. The Manolo the Chef suggests using the equal portions of kosher salt and the crushed Quaaludes, just to give the tryptophane that extra boost that will prevent your relatives from becoming too feisty, quoting Rush Limbaugh and Paul Krugman at each other during the timeouts of the football game.

Here is the Tiffany from the Kate Spade New York, the mid-heel, peep-toe wedge that has exactly the right amount of oomph to distract your guests away from the topic of the politics.

Tiffany from Kate Spade New York

Ask Miss Plumcake: Horsey Shoes

First of all, I’m not going to brag or anything, but I am typing this while getting a foot rub.

This is unusual for two reasons: one, because I stopped letting people touch my feet after I caught my longtime pedicurist discussing my particular toe situation and bandying about the phrase “pterodactyl” with a bit more ease than I found comforting. Second because I can rarely be called upon to do two things at once, especially if one of those things involves lotion and a lithe Latin athlete. It’s a miracle I can even type coherently.

Still, it’s important to branch out, and in that vein, superfantastic reader Annie has queried yours truly for a bit of styling advice:

Annie writes:

An Irish tweed jacket, wide wale corduroy pants, scrunchy turtleneck. I’m trying to pull off a vaguely horsey look, a far cry from my usual style. But what to put on my feets? Please help.

Dearest Annie,

Thank you for providing an excellent opportunity to differentiate between fashion and costume. The obvious choice would be riding boots. They’re incredibly trendy and appropriate for a horsey look. However, that errs a little on the side of costumey or, as fashion people would say, “literal.”

Sure it’s cute, but it’s boring and not very good fashion.

Instead, let me suggest a slightly whimsical brogue like the Joyce English Brogue from Dr. Martens.

Stay with me now.

A literal interpretation of a look can be predictable at best, but a little lateral thinking can keep the focus without looking like you’re dressed up AS something.

When I think horsey and tweed, I think British, and then I think British eccentric, which a fantastic combination of ultra classic conservative with a little bit of restrained kookiness for good measure. The tiny floral print which would be twee on a more feminine shoe (and looks way cuter on the foot than the screen) adds a bit of quirky interest without Deschaneling it to death. You know what I mean by Deschaneling right? like “HELLO HAVE YOU NOTICED I AM QUIRKY, WHICH IS BASICALLY THE SAME AS ANNOYING BUT WITH STRIP LASHES.” man, I couldn’t be more over that nonsense if I had a pole vault and a jet pack. Blinking is not a skill set,  Zooey.

Thanks for writing in, Annie!

Gin and Tonics,

Miss Plumcake

If you have a styling question for Miss Plumcake, put it in the comments or email me at plumcake@shoeblogs.com.  You might get your query featured right here on the blog!

Manolo the Columnist: Gladia Artistic from Oscar de la Renta

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

Dear Manolo,

For reasons that would be very familiar to approximately 50 million voting-age Americans, I woke up Wednesday morning feeling very depressed about the current state of affairs and recent events. Can you please recommend some shoes to cheer me up?

Ann

Manolo says, the Manolo, who finds politics generally distasteful, must confess that he woke up Wednesday morning feeling nothing but relief that the aggressive, importuning, hectoring, and round-the-clock campaigning for the public office had finally ended…for now.

It is not that the Manolo is disdainful of the multitudinous benefits of democracy, such sound-bite debates, motorcade traffic jams, and “I approve this slander”, but rather that the Manolo’s political inclinations cannot be satisfied by the traditional two-party American system.

Indeed, if the Manolo had to describe his political leanings, he would say that he was the Shoetarian Monarchist. He longs for the divine-right king who looks good in the ermine robe, silk tights, stacked heels, and the shoulder-length peruke, like Louis XIV, or the English monarch Charles II.

Oddly, either of this season’s presidential candidates would have made the excellent constitutional monarch. Both of them are handsome, distinguished men who look good in the tailored suits and give speeches filled with nothing but the platitudinous bromides. Either would be perfectly suited for the duties of modern kingship, such as cutting ribbons at the super market grand openings and waving stiffly from balconies.

Look! Here is the Gladia Artistic cutout sandal from the Oscar de la Renta, the magnificent, shiny object that will distract you from your gloom.

Gladia Artistic from Oscar de la Renta

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?

Do The Right Thing

Whether Democrat,

Republican,

Or otherwise affiliated,

Get out there are vote! Oh, and click the images for links.

Manolo the Columnist: Huntress Boot from Hunter

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

Dear Manolo,

Thanks to a recent unpleasant experience with a late-season hurricane which shall remain nameless, I have come to the realization that I need to upgrade my rain boots to something sturdier and less girlish. Please help.

Angela

Manolo says, it is true! The pink girly gum boots that were fine for skipping down the street to the patisserie in the light mist would likely prove unsuitable for wearing while chain-sawing into kindling the oak tree which has crushed your Prius.

But this is why the five-hundred square feet walk-in shoe closets were invented, no? Because you need many different sorts of the shoes for many different sorts of the occasions, including the various situations that arise during the natural and/or manmade disasters.

For the example, by the Manolo’s reckoning, to be properly dressed during the recent hurricane would have required at least five different pairs of the shoes, to include the it-won’t-be-so-bad-hurricane-party shoes, the ayyyy!-we-are-all-going-to-die-drunk shoes, the oy-it-was-worse-than-imagined-hangover shoes, the what-to-wear-to-the-Red-Cross-shelter shoes, and finally, and most importantly, the shoes of did-not-listen-to-the-warnings-remorsefulness.

As for what sturdy foul weather boots the Manolo would recommend for the young lady who vows to take matters more seriously next time, the Manolo is partial to the Hunter Huntress, the traditional tall wellington that has served generations of unflappable English ladies very well.

Huntress from Hunter

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