MAR
2006
14

The Berluti

Manolo says, one of the Manolo’s many internet friends has forwarded to the Manolo the article from the Times of the London about the Berluti, the swank English bootery.

Olga Berluti makes the most beautiful men’s shoes in the world — and if you don’t believe me, take a peek in one of Berluti’s London branches. You’ll gaze in awe at the elegant lines and the burnished deep, layered finish and go: “Wow! When I’m rich that’s what I’ll wear all the time.” Then you’ll walk away sadly because you’ll know it’s never going to happen. Not when a basic pair of ready-to-wear shoes costs a minimum of £470 and a pair of bespoke ones upwards of £2,200.Alessandro

According to Berluti, though, when we meet in her Paris atelier, there are quite a few non-rich people out there who buy her shoes. “Today young people with no money save and save till they can afford them,” she says.

It’s Berluti’s view that a shoe isn’t a proper shoe until it has been worn for at least 20 years — the point when it takes on its owner’s personality. So even for your bespokes, you’re paying only £110 a year.You’d agree it’s worth it if you tried on a pair – as I did in Berluti’s atelier. To wear they’re like ballet pumps. The fine calf leather has been tanned to such feathery lightness you could almost be barefoot — and the fit is perfect.

[…]

In the early days, when the company’s clientele included everyone from Toulouse-Lautrec to the Duke of Windsor, 80 per cent of its shoes were black and the rest chestnut brown. It was Berluti who introduced the more experimental finishes — smoked blacks, blue greys, yellow-browns, and grey-greens — and styles (tattooed with calligraphy; scarred like African tribesmen, etc) for which the shoemaker is renowned today.

The polishing techniques she invented herself and they are a closely-guarded secret. She keeps all her magic ingredients in old Guerlain perfume bottles in her atelier, watched over by a dummy dressed as a samurai, and her personally decorated wooden lasts (ie, the blocks from which bespoke shoes are made) of famous old customers.

They include Richard Burton, Mr Royce (of Rolls-Royce) and Toulouse-Lautrec; Warhol is the only customer with five lasts because he kept changing his mind.

The shoes of the Berluti are indeed truly marvelous, and in the fact, many of them are among the most beautiful shoes for the mens the Manolo has ever seen; absolutely gorgeous shoes.

Sometimes, however, the Olga Berluti she takes the quest for beauty and novelty too far, such as with the collection she has named Rapiécés-Reprisés.
Duo LacedDuo
These shoes they have, according to the Berluti website, the distinguished artistic pedigree.

One day, Andy Warhol asked Olga Berluti: “I would like my right loafer to be patched. And it needs to be visible! It needs to be very Andy Warhol!’. 40 years later, Olga Berluti applies to Ready-To-Wear models the techniques of patching and darning traditionally reserved for clothes.

Yes, it is possible to admire such shoes for the superb quality of their workmanship, and for their cultural value, but they are to the mind of the Manolo almost unwearable, especially by those wish to be taken seriously. If you are the dandy, or the rich artist, then perhaps yes, but otherwise, almost certainly no.

Still, what is there not to love about the company that adores the shoes and the art of the shoes so completely?

MAR
2006
10

Manolo the Columnist

Manolo says, the most recent column of the Manolo for the Express of the Washington Post it is now available for the downloading.

The topic? Mandals!

Dear Manolo,

My husband and I are about to head to Mexico. He is a very stylish man, and we are stymied by his beach options. Most mandals are either unmanly or hopelessly granola. Is there anything for the self-respecting man who doesn’t appreciate the flip-flop?

Laura

Manolo says, this it is the new delimma for the mens who are travelling in the regions of the tropics: what to wear now that the white linen suit, the panama hat, and the white buck shoes are no longer in the fashion?

Sadly, what has replaced this dignified and classic look is something that may perhaps be described as the “Robinson Crusoe Tatterdemalion”, with the raggedy-baggity board shorts, the stretched-out, stained tank top advertising Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax, and the flip flops that appear to have been constructed of the plastic palm fronds and coconut fibers.

In place of this garish and juvenile “getup”, the Manolo proposes that you take as your mantra, WWTJBD? What Would The Jimmy Buffet Do?

Who better to turn to for the advice than the genius muse of the Gulf Coast, the man who has guided generations of the Parrotheads in constructing the entire pastel-colored, rum-soaked Margaritaville fantasy world?

And thus the answer to the question, it is do as the Jimmy Buffet does, by wearing the presentable khaki shorts, the untucked hawaiian shirt of the high quality, and the leather sandals of the manly shape and cut, such as the Capistrano from the Tommy Bahama. This sandal it is not childish, nor unmaly, and it savors not of the granola.
Capistrano by Tommy Bahama    Manolo Likes!  Click!

JAN
2006
27

Manolo the Columnist

Manolo says, the Manolo’s most recent column for the Express of the Washington Post it is now available for the downloading at their website. Today, the Manolo he discusses the “hip” shoes for the man.

Dear Manolo,

Can you recommend a pair of hip shoes for a downtown sort of guy?

Robert

It is no secret that the Manolo he loves the shoes, but it is perhaps less well known that the Manolo he disapproves of the “hip” shoes for the men.

The “hip” shoe, it is the lamentable trend, with its gaudy colors, and its too-square-or-too-pointy toe, and the ridiculous exotic leathers like the iguana, or the ostrich, or the alley cat.

If it is your desire to look like the Argentine tango pimp then by all means wear the hip shoe.

However, if you wish to be taken seriously, as the adult man should naturally wish to be, then you should remain on the side of tradition.

Where the fashion for the men is concerned, the Manolo he is the traditionalist. Men should wear well-polished, good quality feetwear, which should distinguish itself not with the outré color, or the hand-tooled cat leather, but with the high quality of the material and the workmanship, and with the classical, elegant line of the shoe itself.

Thus the Manolo he would recommend to his “downtown” friend the black monkstrap shoe from the Bally called the Breda.

The monkstrap shoe it is the ever so slightly eccentric shoe. Indeed there is the faintest whiff of the mystery about the man who wears the monkstrap. This man he is not the uptight man of business, instead he is free from such mundane concerns, and yet there is still the admirable personal restraint. He is slightly old-fashioned, but in only the best sense, as being one who does not abandon tradition at the first blush of the new.
Breda by Bally     Manolo Likees!  Click!

Cannot Live Without

Manolo says, the theme of this week’s Carnivale of the Couture (hosted by the Manolo’s internet friends at the Shangri Law) it is “the fashion things you cannot live without on the desert island”.

This it is the most difficult for the Manolo as he is not someone who likes to “rough it”. Indeed, the items the Manolo believes absolutely necessary for survival they would require the medium sized shipping container.

However, the lengthy list of items it is not in the spirit of the event, and so the Manolo he has limited himself to two things.

John Lobb Toe Cap Oxford

The one thing the Manolo he absolutely cannot live without, it is the shoes of the John Lobb, the best men’s shoes in the world. If the Manolo is going to spend the rest of his life on the desert island, he will not be chasing the coconuts and the wild boars in his bare feets.

Perfection!

The second item that the Manolo the Shoeblogger considers indespensible for the survival, it is the single, simple, perfect pair of the shoes from the maestro Manolo Blahnik.

If the Manolo the Shoeblogger is to be trapped on the desert island, he needs something to keep his spirits afloat, something beautiful, something sublime that he can contemplate when he become depressed at his condition. This simple, elegant, classical shoe it would remind the Manolo that he has not been forgotten, that the benevolent God continues to exist, and that His works they are mighty.

The Shoes Without the Socks

Manolo says, one of the Manolo’s many internet friends has sent the Manolo the link to the ridiculous article about the men who wear the dress shoes without the socks.

IT seems almost obscene, given the expanses of midriff, thigh and backside that too many people are all too willing to bare today, that the decision to show a little ankle with dress shoes should raise eyebrows. But almost obscene is just how it seems to many.

“It’s the new male cleavage,” said Thom Browne, the men’s wear designer and a professed ankle exhibitionist. “You can’t believe the snickers and comments I get because I’m not wearing socks. It sends people into a tailspin.”

Mr. Browne is an extremist, given that he wears traditional suit pants, cut short, and pairs them with English wingtips. You don’t expect to see a swath of naked skin separating the two. Nonetheless, many men are uneasy showing ankle, fearing perhaps that it smacks of the garish machismo of “Miami Vice.” You can debate whether dress shoes without socks looks cool, but there is no question that your feet feel that way.

“It’s nice to feel like you’re not wearing anything,” said Daniel Chu, a Manhattan advertising executive, who, come warm weather, deep-sixes the dress socks even with his Crockett & Jones lace-up, cap-toe oxfords. “It’s more of a comfort thing than a fashion statement.” He added, however, that he likes pairing the modern athleticism of bare feet with the Old World elegance of dress shoes, a clash concocted by those 1950’s rebels who paired white athletic socks with loafers. “That’s what makes people stare,” he said. “They’re totally unfamiliar with the look, which is the beauty of it.”

Oooooh, you are the rebel! Look at the rebel who does not believe in the socks for the expensive shoes!

Such the rebel who eschews the commonsense traditions of the untutored masses! All hail the rebellious non-sock wearing men, who challange the very foundations of our hide-bound society.

Manolo says, Pah!

Flip-Flop Flop

Manolo says, it appears that the many months the Manolo he has spent attempting to educate the blogosphere they have been wasted.

The Walmart Manolo

Manolo says, the Manolo’s internet friend the Fat Mike has put up the amusing article under the title “Walmart Manolo” in which the Fat Mike he discusses his love of the shoes and the thinness of his wallet.

Although there is much that amuses the Manolo about the Fat Mike’s view of the wearing of the shoes by the men of size, there is one part that is especially pertinent for blog of the Manolo. In his post the Fat Mike has included the list of the ten types of the shoes that he believes every man he should own. Here it is.

The Guys Essential Pairs of Shoes — a list:
1) The black work/weddings/funerals/court appearances shoes
2) The city walkers
3) The workout shoes
4-6) The drivers — dark, tan & light
7-8) The sneakers — dark & light
9) The sandal
10) The shit kicker boots

Manolo says, this it is not the bad list, although the Manolo he would have the very difficult time limiting himself to just ten (or even 20, or 30, or 40) pairs of the shoes.

And, of the course, many of the Manolo’s shoes, they would be the custom made. Nothing is there that can compare with the custom made shoes for the man.

Yet, there are three or four places on the list where the Manolo he would reccomend the shoes that were not only not custom made, but were indeed surprisingly affordable.

#3 The Workout Shoes.

Manolo says, the shoes of the workout, they must the first and the foremost be practical. This is not the time for the crazy spring-loaded shock-absorbing air-bag-cushioning techo-shoes. You want the shoe that does the most with the least amoung of the fuss. And likewise, you cannot be swaning about in the fancy designer shoes, after the all, is not the first word in the workout the “work”?

This it is why the Manolo loves the shoes of the New Balance.

New Balance - M 603 (Navy)  Manolo Likes!  Click!
He himself has owned three consequtive pairs of the New Balance 603s.

#8 The Light-colored Sneakers

The Manolo he has recommended these before, but it must be said again, the Adidas Rod Laver, it is the classic sneaker shoe of the casual wear.

adidas - Rod Laver (White/Navy Nylon/Mesh) - Men's    Manolo Likes!  Click!

The Manolo he has lost the count of the number of the pairs of the Rod Lavers he has owned. Above the dozen, at the least. (Yes, the Manolo he is somewhat the creature of the habits.)

#2 The City Walkers

As for the shoes for the walking in the city, the Manolo he has become increasingly disposed towards the Mephistos. This monk strap, it has the beautiful classic styling that the Manolo appreciates.

Mephisto - Perino (Dark Brown Smooth) Manolo Likes!  Click!

Manolo says, the Manolo he has made a more lengthy and complete response to the Fat Mike at the Manolo’s Manolo for the Men Blog.