As readers of this blog well know, I don’t own as many pairs of shoes as Imelda Marcos did, but I come darned close. Gorgeous high-fashion shoes are the way an impoverished scribe and sometime Latin teacher like me can instantly update her tattered ’90s wardrobe on the cheap. (“That pantsuit! So lovely! So very 1999! And by the way, nice shoes!”)
So I’m recommending with almost uncontainable enthusiasm–and not just to fellow shoe-aholics–Manolo’s Shoe Blog, which I found via Instapundit, of all people, when I was scouring the Internet for commentary on “runaway bride” Jennifer Wilbanks and the behemoth wedding she fled. Seems that Manolo (no relation to M. Blahnik, although he’s a fan), besides posting an image of a mouth-watering pair of shoes every day, is also a witty and perceptive arbiter of good taste, manners, and even morals. That’s why Manolo’s blog, in existence since only January, already has legions of loyal fans making the daily click.
Here, for example, is what Manolo had to say in his signature faux-Eurotrash-ese about Wilbanks and the 14 “maids of the bride” she had planned for her wedding:
“By the comparison, the Princess Diana she only had five maids of the bride. The Jackie O. when she was the Jackie B. and married the JFK, she had only ten of the maids of the bride.
“Manolo says, although the Manolo he is usually in favor of the opulence and the luxury, it is nonetheless the rule of the Manolo that if the girl she feels the need to have more than ten maids of the bride–more than the Jackie O. (nee B.) needed to marry the JFK–she should not be getting married.
“Perhaps this rule it sounds too harsh, but it has been the experience of the Manolo that for the girls who demand the most super gigantic of the fairytale weddings, the wedding itself frequently becomes more important than the marriage.
“This it is not to say that the big wedding it is in itself bad, but rather it is to say that for the bride who demands the perfect day of the wedding, to the point of either inciting the hatred of those around them, or to the point of wanting to runaway and leave the poor parents thinking she has been murdered, something it is wrong.
“The wedding day it is to be the day of joy, and its approach should be greeted with the gladness and the earnest longing for its arrival. If the planning of the wedding has become the ordeal to be endured one must step back and reconsider the necessity of the fourteen maids of the brides.”
Now that’s wisdom.
Mind you, when Manolo says he “is usually in favor of the opulence and the luxury,” he’s not kidding. The shoes he features on his site are almost all of the high-end, $300-plus variety–but that’s because he regards footwear as exquisite works of art. He does, however, offer “The Basement of the Bargains” and his site occasionally features nicely styled shoes selling for as little as $30.
Manolo believes that women should turn themselves out elegantly, so his site also features a “The Gallery of the Horrors” that heaps contempt upon Birkenstocks and the other women’s studies-department clogwear favored by our militant feminist sisters. Here is what Manolo has to say[ about the Birkenstock:
“This shoe, it looks like it was put together by the blind medieval monks, for wear by the peasants of the mud.”
He also offers a “Bad Fashion Page” that warns against navel rings and includes his all-important “Manolo No-Poncho Pledge“–don’t wear something the cat dragged in like Martha Stewart! And on Manolo’s bridal page, you must see his four-alarm warning “Don’t Be the Britney.”
To my mind, the most telling page on Manolo’s site–and the one that confirmed in my mind forever his exquisite taste and fine discernment–is the photograph he posted of Grace Kelly and Prince Ranier of Monaco kneeling in church at their 1956 wedding (the posting marked Ranier’s death a few weeks ago). Manolo wrote:
“As you can see, the Grace Kelly she was perhaps the most beautiful bride–wearing perhaps the most beautiful gown–to ever marry a prince.”
This is true. Kelly’s gown is a wonder to behold: essentially a strapless white satin bodice topped by a tight, long-sleeved layer of thin, fine, nearly transparent white lace that covers her lovely arms and shoulders modestly while revealing them perfectly. Below the waist the satin cascades into a full skirt. The gown is at once alluring and decorous, and it’s for that reason the sexiest wedding gown I’ve ever seen. It’s opulent but not ostentatious.
Contrast Kelly’s dress to these up-to-the-minute gowns displayed at a recent bridal show attended by Manolo. The gowns are lovely and elegant–but they’re essentially evening dresses, not wedding gowns, more suitable for a night at the opera or a debutante’s coming-out party than a nuptial, especially a religious nuptial. Sleeved lace and satin gowns on the order of Kelly’s were de rigeur for weddings through the 1980s, until Vera Wang, designing Caroline Bessette’s wedding to JFK Jr., ushered in the lace-free, bare-shouldered bridal look that prevails today. Styles change, though, and everything old becomes new. I’m hoping for a retro movement that brings back the classical wedding gown. And for a return of black-tie affairs that will bring back the evening gown at its proper time of day and in its proper venue.