The Collector

Manolo says, apparently, Daniel is not the only Day-Lewis with the intense love of the beautiful shoes, for the past 35 years his sister Tamasin, the celebrity chef, has bought ONLY the shoes of the Maestro Manolo Blahnik manolotamasin.jpg

When did Manolo become a habit, an obsession, a loyalty? Is it odd that, since that first pair of purple shoes, I have never bought a pair of shoes anywhere else? Manolos have seen my feet through everything. I have climbed to the top of Mweelrea, the mountain behind my house in County Mayo, in a pair of bitter-chocolate-brown ponyskin desert boots, which my children loved and stroked until they were bald. Yes, I have wellington boots, but the perverse pleasure in being the only person ever to stride out across the bog and climb Mweelrea in Manolos was irresistible. They have accompanied me everywhere, on all occasions, and made light of the good and the bad times. I can never really afford them, but, I tell myself, I can’t afford not to have them, and many a heartbreak has been assuaged, or a crisis defused, by a spur-of-the-moment trip to Old Church Street. Contrary though it may seem, I often end up buying a pair when I am most broke, for after the initial guilt comes renewed optimism and the satisfying, if scrambled, logic that they are an investment, that they will give you pleasure, the next best thing to happiness.

It is so true, this ability of beautiful shoes to make us happy.

Beautiful, beautiful shoes…

We re-invent ourselves as much through our shoes as through our clothes. Pregnant with my first daughter, Miranda, I loathed the drop-waisted tents and elasticated trousers that turned glowing young womanhood to instant matron. I ran to Manolo. Draw the eye to the ankles and away from the middle, I thought. The Schiaparelli-pink peep-toes with their soft leather bow and kitten heels were the business. I remember Bernard Levin, whom I was producing in a series of television interviews at the time, staring open-mouthed, failing even to notice that I was pregnant. ‘Look at your feet,’ he said. ‘They’re the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever seen.’

And beautiful boots….

You need to take out a second mortgage to buy Manolo Blahnik boots, but the thing is they can last for decades. In fact, my honey suede riding-boots are moulded to my feet, patched and re-soled and all the chicer for it, and will live another decade if the cobbler can still cobble them. They are as comfortable as Clint Eastwood in the saddle and look better than they ever did new. But the most coveted by all who set eyes on them are my knee-length tapestry boots. They lay at the back of the cupboard for a decade until I took them to New York the past few winters and was stopped on the street every time. ‘Gee, are those boots vintage?’ everyone asked. Yes, I replied, vintage Manolo, not knowing when old becomes vintage becomes antique, but impressing the teenagers and young women who stopped and stared and wondered where they could buy them.

The Day-Lewises, truly they understand the beauty of shoes!