2011 February 11
Same Shoes, Ten Years: What's Up With Anna Wintour's Manolo Blahniks?
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(NEW YORK) No trendy platforms for this EIC: She’s spent the better part of a decade in just two of Monsieur Blahnik’s styles. What’s it all about? BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV
THE DESIGNER dishes...
Manolo Blahnik, shoe god:
What’s the story behind this particular style with the two intersecting straps that Anna Wintour loves so much?
Originally the shoe was inspired by Maria Callas, the great opera singer. Anna asked me to take the ankle wrap from the shoe and add a slingback, as she never likes anything to cut her legs. The shoe then became Callasli.
When did you design it? Do you recall the original price?
It was originally in the high $400s, but that goes back more than 10 years ago. It was designed in 1994.
Why do you think Anna responds to this particular style?
Anna knows herself very well and what suits her best.
How many pairs does Anna order each season?
I never comment on the number of pairs anyone orders, but Anna always like to have her shoes, like everything in her wardrobe, impeccable at all times.
What are Anna’s favorite colors?
Skin tones. I have produced two skin tones that particularly suit Anna.
How many lasts of Anna’s foot do you have?
I have designed several specifically for Anna.
Do you ever do custom designs for her?
I often talk to Anna about what’s inspiring her that particular season and what she’s ordered for her wardrobe. Anna has fantastic legs, and her feet are always meticulously groomed. We’re always discussing materials and adjusting the heel heights and whether or not straps should be wider or stay the same. In the end, it is always up to Anna.
And the other pair she likes with the wider straps?
It’s called the Botti, and I designed it in 1999.
Have customers requested this shoe because they’ve seen Anna wearing it?
We often receive requests simply because Anna wears it.
Can you tell us the names of some of the other women who wear this style shoe?
I never comment on anyone who wears our shoes, but surely many have been inspired by Anna.
Does this shoe have a nickname?
Many women refer to it as “AW.”
Would you feel betrayed if Anna started wearing a new style all the time, by another designer, for the next dozen years?
I am incredibly thankful for Anna’s loyalty and if she chooses to move in another direction, I would also respect that. Betrayed is too strong a word but I’d definitely be hurt.
How do you think Christian Louboutin and Tamara Mellon feel about this?
You would have to ask them.
THE BEHAVIORIST spills...
Fugen Neziroglu, clinical and behavioral psychologist, director of the Bio-Behavioral Institute, Great Neck, New York:
Why do you think Anna wears this shoe year after year?
This specific shoe style may signify a constant to Anna. It has become something she is familiar with. She may not like change very much. There’s so much overwhelming activity in her daily life, she must need or want something that can stay in her comfort zone.
What does Anna’s consistent choice in footwear indicate about her psychologically?
It does not seem problematic, because Anna is a very successful woman. If she had an obsessive-compulsive disorder, I think she wouldn’t be highly functioning to the extent she is. However, she may be “camouflaging” by wearing these shoes.
Camo is so five years ago! Say what?
People sometimes use a particular style because we feel it makes us look better. This can stem from an obsession or concern about a particular area of the body. You can feel that a specific style or item of clothing may in fact “cover up” what you perceive as the defect. For instance, a woman may wear a big jacket all the time to cover her hips, because she perceives that part of her body to be the wrong size and it causes her to feel self-conscious. Not the case here!
THE DOCTOR warns...
Jaleh Hoorfar, doctor of podiatric medicine, New York City:
Would you say this is a good shoe for Anna to wear constantly?
I find the shoes quite unsupportive. They look very flimsy. The straps in front are placed awkwardly across her toes. Anyone’s toes would stick out of a shoe like this, and Anna is no exception! Also, because there isn’t a strap all the way around the ankle, there’s nothing to truly hug the heel. Your foot and your shoe should move in one unit when walking.
What do you like about the style?
The fact that it’s a relatively lower heel is its salvation. Since it isn’t terribly high, the shoe doesn’t throw her balance off. At least it has a slingback, which can also provide psychological support for the wearer. But a slingback tends to slip off of the heel.
So how would you recommend that Mr. Blahnik improve this shoe?
If he has a last of Anna’s foot, he should move the straps strategically over the fifth toe. Moving the straps even a centimeter will shift her weight so her toes stay in the shoe.
And that pesky slingback?
Ideally, Anna should be wearing a shoe with a closed back. It would hold her heel stable by allowing her feet to sit in the shoes. The lack of support means Anna’s foot probably gets exhausted, and the foot’s tendons might cramp up at night.
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