A Regular Guy Crashes the Manolo Blahnik Sale

Blowout at Blahnik!

Yeah, it was getting toward the end of the big sale at Manolo Blahnik, the very expensive, shoe boutique at 15 West 55th Street. Twelve hundred pairs were gone at $100 each, but there was still time to snap up alligator boots, hot pink sandals, spike heels, slides, black patent leather pumps–shoes that, only a week or so earlier, had been going for between $445 and $1,500 a pair.

Susan Consentino, a 5-foot-11 aquatics therapist, was buying three pairs. One of them had a five-inch heel. “They’re not meant to walk down the street,” she said. “You have to be picked up, picked up in a car. You have to be picked up and they’re not to walk the street shopping. They’re actually really comfortable–it’s not like, you wouldn’t go jogging in them, but it doesn’t hurt to stand up.”

“How great is this shoe sale?”

“It’s insane. This just doesn’t happen.”

The shop’s co-owner, George Malkemus, appeared and led me to his office.

“What’s going on out there?” I asked.

“Well, literally, we opened this store in 1983, and we’re moving to a new space,” Mr. Malkemus said. “So we’re having this, like, sort of blowout moving end-of-our-business sale. It’s really kind of like a purging of the Manolo Blahnik, you know, world.”

“Purging?”

“When I say ‘purging,’ it’s really a remarkable true term, because it’s about starting over. It’s like: Is this table a lovely French country table? Yes. Do I want it in my new office? No.”

Back in the store, a blond woman got off her cell phone. Her name was Donna Weinheim. She said she was the creative director of an ad agency and that she was picking up “just three” pairs of Manolos to add to her collection of “maybe more than a hundred.”

“These shoes are very, very well designed,” she said. “The details. You know, like God is in the details? The details are unbelievable. Very feminine.”

“What’s it like, getting new shoes?”

“It’s just kind of like when you open a new box of crayons and you haven’t used them yet–that’s what shoes are like, because beautiful new shoes are like shiny pennies.”

Nicole Fritton, a 25-year-old fashion editor at Cosmopolitan magazine, was also there. Blue eyes, brown hair, black shirt, black pants, black flat slides. “For a woman, I mean they’re so sexy,” she said. “They’re just so refined , but sexy at the same time. It’s the way they look, it’s also the way they feel and the way that you feel when you’re wearing them. You just feel sexy .” She began to speak in a whisper, as if we were in church: “You can be wearing a four-inch heel, Manolo Blahnik, and feel so stable. It’s empowering.”

“How excited are you about this sale?”

“Are you kidding? This is once in a lifetime. When the fax came through to our office, I thought, You have got to be kidding.”

A saleslady came by with white bridal shoes in a box. “Make sure these are groovy-groovy,” the saleslady said.

“I’m a bridesmaid in the wedding,” Ms. Fritton said. “So it’s going to be my gift to her. I thought–a very special treat. To wear Manolo Blahniks for your wedding, it’s like a princess shoe. It’s almost like part of the fairy tale.”

“Do you talk to your friends about Manolo Blahniks?”

“Mmmm-hmmm. Yeah. My first conversation was someone running through the office with a sign– Manolo Blahnik’s having a sale –and everyone was kind of like, Whaaaaaaat? A hundred dollars? Whaaaaa! Monday morning, we were all here, trying them on–yeah, really excited. When everyone came back, it was like: ‘How many pairs did you buy?’ ‘How many pairs did you buy?’ ‘How many pairs did you buy?'”

I Dream of Hillary

Scene: White House basement. Low lighting. Deep, comfy black leather chairs. Could be 7 A.M., could be midnight.

Present: First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal, White House deputy counsel Bruce Lindsey, Presidential secretary Betty Currie, Attorney General Janet Reno, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, TV producers Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, media adviser Steven Spielberg.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: The President asked me to hold this meeting because he is doing the work the American people elected him for …

Al Gore: (Guffaw …)

HRC (turning to Gore): Gee, Al, I’m glad you find this funny–we’re only faced with a dangerous conspiracy–I’m sure the rest of us are tickled pink …

Sidney Blumenthal: No!

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason: I’m not laughing …

HRC: Gee, Al, you seem to be alone on this …

Gore: O.K., sorry–jeez!

HRC: Anyway, the President and I are thrilled that everyone at this table has realized Ken Starr is an enemy of democracy, and that extraordinary measures have been called for … Whatever Ken Starr asks of you in that grand jury room, history asks something more.

Currie: Ken Starr is a monster, he doesn’t deserve the truth!

Blumenthal: The American colonists fought one war for freedom–we are fighting another …

Harry Thomason: I feel tingly.

Steven Spielberg: I think it was a mistake to take Mike McCurry off the project–his aw-shucks, country-rube performance was terrific. He has a certain Ned Beatty quality …

HRC: Well, Steven, you do your job, we’ll do ours. Mike was losing it, departing from the text–he had to be terminated. If you’re upset, buy a teddy bear, schmoopsie. (Turns to Currie) Can I get a refill?

Currie: Sure …

Blumenthal: Extra light for me–and I wouldn’t say No to a low-fat muffin.

Spielberg: Just hot water and lemon.

Gore: Can you do cappuccinos?

Exit Currie.

HRC: Now, I hate to go through this again, but it’s necessary–have any of you, either while watching TV or brushing your teeth or making love to your spouse, felt an impulse to tell Starr what he wants to hear?

Everyone (loudly): No!

HRC: Good, because every time one of us marches into that grand jury room, we all go in as one.

Blumenthal: Beautifully said!

Spielberg: It was what I was trying to say with Amistad .

(Currie returns, carrying a large tray.)

HRC: Gosh, Betty, did you go all the way to Maryland for that coffee? (General laughter.) Well, as long as nothing spilled–or leaked!–on the way back. (Turns to Reno) How is your end holding up?

Reno: Some of my people are getting antsy–but leave them to me.

HRC: Well, Reno, you’ve been super. Every time I see you on TV, you don’t even sweat! And the President and I will never forget your La Bella fix. Gosh, I hope it won’t be too hard for poor Charlie to find a job! (Laughter all around, Gore slaps thigh) And, hey, Mr. Secretary of Defense–nice work in Iraq. The weapons inspectors thing was pure poetry.

Cohen: It was a breeze–we just told them to make sure they got turned away.

HRC: Great. I want you to send those inspectors everywhere, have them bang on the fucking palace doors. Every time they get turned away, it’s a page 1 story–I want those inspectors to try to peer up Saddam’s ass, understand?

Gore: I, uh, hate to bring this up.

HRC: Speak up, Al.

Gore: Well, I mean, you–I mean, we–didn’t have anything to do with Nairobi–obviously we didn’t, it’s just that the timing, it was … kind of odd.

HRC: Al, I have to say I am deeply, deeply shocked, for you to even think that Bill Clinton and I would endanger American lives for the sake of our own political survival. I’m sure you will never mention such a wacky thing again.

Gore: Sorry.

HRC: Now I realize the stress you are all under, and that you might say one thing here, while thinking another when you walk out that door. I ask that you take a look at your families and ask yourselves, Do I really want to go on a one-way picnic to Fort Marcy Park? O.K. Any questions?

Blumenthal: I never got my muffin …

(A door opens. The outline of a woman is visible.)

HRC: Oh, hi, come in! I believe everyone here has met Linda Tripp?

–Ben Profume

A Regular Guy Crashes the Manolo Blahnik Sale