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

Whose Shoes Wednesday… The Answer

Manolo asked, whose shoes?

Helena Bonham Carter Shoes

Manolo answers, it is the Helena Bonham Carter!

Congratulations to the Manolo’s internet friend, the K, for being the first to correctly identify this week’s kooky-nutty celebrity of note.

For All The Saints (okay, just one, but he’s fabulous)

A little Yves Saint Laurent for All Saints Day. Yes, I coordinate my designers with the liturgical calendar. Don’t judge me, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person to play Jesus while wearing a pair of oxblood Christian Lacroix sandals with a cream crocodile sculpted heel. In your face, Jim Caviezel!


Click the images for links. Sadly, the heels –could you die over those emerald soles?– don’t come in size elephant foot, but anyone who wears size 10 and below is in luck.

Whose Shoes Wednesday

Manolo asks, whose shoes?

Shoes in Cinema: Kinky Boots

I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing cobblers glue.

I’m in Virginia now, and although the worst seems to be over, the whole DC Metro area got pounded like British currency. My fella, Hot Latin Boy, is holding down the fort at Plumcake Cottage in Baja, Mexico where a previously inactive volcano has started to be less inactive as one might hope. Frankly I’m just one Aimee Mann song away from that crazy scene in Magnolia and I’m pretty sure my wiper blades won’t be able to take it.

I’ve got this weird survivalist streak that means my hatches were battened down days ago, and friends, let me tell you: once I batten something, it stays battened, so my best friend and I had nothing to do but watch old movies and wait for the power to go out.

Miraculously, our grid has stayed up and we made it all the way through my All Time Favorite Movie About Shoes: Kinky Boots.

I have been told by people who would know that I was at the American premier of Kinky Boots, but I’m not entirely sure that’s true. I was working for a film festival  so it’s certainly possible, and that was the year I discovered the magical hallucinatory powers derived from a heady combination of extreme sleep deprivation and a diet consisting entirely of Chupa Chups lollipops and absolutely unforgivable cheap champagne. Still, I’d like to think I’d remember something.

It’s not every day you see a six-foot tall black British man with a voice for Othello in a wig for Diana Ross, at least not since my circuit party days.

For those who were also chasing the Chupa Chups dragon and managed to miss it, Kinky Boots revolves around Charlie Price whose family has been making high-quality men’s footwear for over a hundred years. When the company hits the skids thanks to an influx of cheap competition, he realizes his factory must change or die.

Enter Lola, a SoHo (the proper one, not the fake Yankee one) drag performer with a penchant for red patent leather, riding crops and Eartha Kitt.

Although it’s based on a true story, it is a bit formulaic, but so was Romeo and Juliet and they didn’t even have cute shoes (well, maybe they did, they WERE Italian) but it’s well worth a watch if only for the soundtrack and the Blue Angel Boys.


(ignore the cheesy American voiceover. Please.)

So what’s your favorite movie about shoes? The Wizard of Oz? The Red Shoes? Or maybe it’s just a scene. Put it in the comments!

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