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Posts Tagged ‘Manolo Blahnik’

The armor of glamour

In aging, beauty, behavior, cities, culture, design, domestic life, Fashion, life, Style, women on October 17, 2012 at 3:38 am
Manolo Blahnik shoe (31 W 54th St - New York)

Manolo Blahnik shoe (31 W 54th St – New York) I wore Manolos on my wedding day, slingbacks like this. Divine! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have a chance to see the new film about legendary Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has To Travel, go!

You don’t have to care deeply about fashion or beauty to enjoy it, although for those of us who do, it’s a visual feast. Some of the people interviewed for this documentary include photographers Richard Avedon and David Bailey, 60’s model Veruschka, and designers Manolo Blahnik and Carolina Hererra.

Perhaps most fascinating are the brief glimpses of Vreeland-as-wife or mother. One of her two sons says, to camera, he wished almost anyone else had been his mother. Vreeland’s own mother called her ugly, so so much for maternal warmth!

Vreeland was what the French call jolie-laide, with broad, flat cheekbones, a high forehead and a personal style she honed to a very sharp edge.

She was very much self-invented, and her boldness came from a sort of social confidence that comes, to many women, from being well-married and well-employed. One interviewee recalls her sending roses to Alaska for a shoot. What Diana wanted, Diana usually got.

I spent four hours the other day sitting at Saks, at the mother ship on Fifth Avenue, to sell copies of my book “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail”, which gave me a front-row seat to some of the nation’s wealthiest and best-dressed shoppers. It was interesting to watch how carefully some women put themselves together.

I grew up around two women who cared deeply about their appearance, their figures, their clothing and hair and jewelry. For my mother and stepmother, being beautiful, thin and well-dressed was terribly important, and they disdained women who didn’t share their values. My mother modeled for the Vancouver Sun as a newlywed in her early 20s and my step-mother had studied dance seriously.

Neither woman ever attended college, so their wit, smarts and style were essential to their success.

I still remember many of their clothes and jewelry, and very much wanted to have their female self-confidence. But I left my mother’s care at 14 and my stepmother was not someone eager to share her secrets. So I had to figure out this how-to-be-pretty thing on my own.

I was also bullied for two years in high school, called Doglin by a gang of boys, which severely dinged any desire to draw attention to my physical appearance. I was smart, verbally adept and confident, and that was what (and did) would carry me through the University of Toronto, filled with whip-smart men and women, in the late 1970s, a time when second-wave feminism was in full flush and women were a lot more concerned with being smart and listened to than decorative and appreciated for their physical beauty. Thank God!

But I’ve become much more interested in glamour as I age. After 40, it’s unwise to be quite so careless about your appearance — at least if you wish to be taken seriously by your professional peers, employers and competitors.

This is, clearly, influenced by region and industry. The sort of no-make-up asexual look favored in parts of New England, or the T-shirt and jeans schlubbiness of Silicon Valley, just looks weird and unsophisticated in places like Montreal and Paris, where defined personal style is (yay!) both expected and relished.  I lived in both cities in my 20s and 30s, which changed forever my sense of style — great accessories rule!

Details do matter — a high-cut armhole and a properly hemmed trouser, a silk pocket square, a highly polished boot, freshly-trimmed hair all send a powerful message. I thrive on visual beauty and, (beyond the hopelessly selfish and vain and the dreary label-whores), simply really enjoy a man or woman who has taken the time and thought to present an attractive appearance.

When I lived in rural New Hampshire, a man once chastised me (!) for my emerald green ankle high boots for mud season because…they were not black. I moved to New York within a few months after that dreadfully boring bit of bossiness.

I love glamour, and if I were rich, would stock up on clothes by Dries van Noten, The Row, Etro and Donna Karan, my favored mix of simple minimalism and lush bohemianism. Still mourning a pair of ruby red knee-high suede boots I tossed 20 years ago.

Ladies and gentlemen, do you arm yourself with elegance?

If not, why not?

Do you sell oxygen with these? The joy of high heels

In beauty, behavior, Fashion, journalism, life, Style, women on August 18, 2012 at 12:06 am

After two years of agonizing pain, making every step exhausting, I have a new hip.

Time for high heels!

In the past few weeks, in an unprecedented spree, I’ve bought two pairs, one of which my husband urged me to do, one of them so high I asked the befuddled sales associate if they came with oxygen. The altitude…

I was never much of  a high heels sort of girl.

It wasn’t because I’m a feminist.

It’s because I’m a journalist, lived downtown alone in large cities for many years and have often traveled solo in some funky places — i.e. I wore flats so I could walk long distances and run fast, safely, when necessary.

Yes, a stiletto heel makes a nice weapon, but I never wanted any miscreant to get that close in the first place.

When you work as a news reporter, every day offers some fresh new hell interesting challenge as you’re sent off to cover whatever the editor thinks important, and in all kinds of weather. It’s not a job for gals whose wardrobes restrict them physically, or whose idea of outdoor activity — as American humorist Fran Lebowitz once joked — is stepping from the taxi into the restaurant.

Stories I’ve covered included:

– a bloody car wreck where everyone died in a head-on collision with a city bus. This meant running up a wet, snowy and muddy hill to reach the site

– racing to beat the press pack across a convention center hall to reach the Prime Minister after a speech

– squatting on the wet, slippery, bucking deck of an America’s Cup boat to interview crew members

– heading into the midtown Manhattan offices of a shady “baby nurse” firm for a quote, fully expecting to be yelled at, possibly hit, and needing to sprint back to safety

You get the idea.

Not only do serious reporters need to run/squat/climb things, we need to beat the competition.  Not that anyone really working it would show up in Louboutins, but knowing I could book it was comforting. On several occasions — back when the earth was cooling (the 1980s), before the Internet and cellphones — I had to locate, commandeer and race to the nearest pay phone before anyone else in the press pack.

(Watch a few 1940s movies to see what I’m talking about.)

It was no time for heels.

The week I got re-married, last September, a tad anxious as most brides are, I did what tends to soothe me at times of stress — buy shoes. I treated myself to my first-ever, full-price pair of Manolo Blahniks, burgundy sling-backs to wear with my (non-white) wedding dress.

Damned if I was going to head back into matrimony in boring old flats. Nope, this was a day for gorgeous, sexy heels. One of my favorite photos of that day is my Dad and the minister, each steadying me, as I slip into them before gliding down the aisle.

I was blond then!

Here’s a recent blog post featured on Freshly Pressed, about whether you can be a feminist and wear high heels.
How many of you dig high heels?

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