Friday, April 16, 2004

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Manolos Still Hot, But Jimmy Choo Is, Too

Emma Crookes had been planning the trip for years, waiting for the day she could afford the splurge...

On a rainy Thursday evening, she stepped into the Manolo Blahnik shoe store in Midtown Manhattan and now only needed to decide between Mary Jane-style pumps or strappy stilettos with dangling adornments.

“I’ve always wanted a pair since I could afford Vogue, which was when I was 17,” said Crookes, who is now 30 and lives in London. “No other designer has got the imagination.”

Crookes, who bought her London apartment a year ago, knew she should spend the $500 the shoes would cost to improve her home.

“You just do it, don’t you, whether you have the money or not,” she said, laughing. “Next year, the kitchen may wait.”

Crookes is not alone in her love for Manolos. Some women confide they’ll skip lunch to save for a pair. The designer shoes remain as popular as ever despite the conclusion this winter of “Sex and the City,” the HBO comedy with which they became so identified.

“Certainly, Manolo Blahnik is still very much a hot line,” said Bill Boettge, president of the National Shoe Retailers Association. “Nothing has taken its place so far.”

But Howard Davis, adjunct professor of footwear design at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, said while Manolos are a perennial favorite, Tamara Mellon’s Jimmy Choo brand is stepping up as the new heel of choice among his students.

“They’re really into Jimmy Choo because they like how he decorates his shoe,” Davis said, noting the skilled use of rhinestones. “They find it beautiful.”

But Blahnik lovers continue to seek out the tucked-away retail store at 31 W. 54th St., with four shoes in a picture window next to miniscule sign bearing the designer’s name.

Cate Alderson, 25, of San Francisco, came searching for shoes for her June nuptials. Although most of the pumps were readily touched and admired by customers, faux-pearl-laden wedding shoes with an absent price tag – salespeople revealed a cost of $1,200 – were kept behind glass.

But Alderson, who normally spent no more than $300 on footwear, had been shopping the entire day and was ready to pay what she must to have shoes she loved.

“There’s more leniency to how much you can spend,” Alderson said.

Saleswoman Terrilyn Lee, 21, of Queens, said the store is no stranger to seeing customers willing to do anything to own the designer footwear with heels that can surpass five inches.

The $690 “Oklamod” construction boot with a 4-inch stiletto heel, known colloquially as the Manolo Blahnik Timberland, was so popular last year after it was featured in a song by Jay-Z and Beyonce that the store phones were ringing with desperate customers from California, Georgia, Texas and everywhere in between promising to send money orders to reserve the boot.

“There were like, ‘I’m not going to pay my rent just to buy these boots,’ ” Lee said.

Some lucky customers don’t pay retail. Lori Matthews, 35, who lives in San Francisco, managed to get a pair of the coveted boots on sale for less than $500. “I got the last pair,” she said smiling.

-Heather Fletcher
heatherlynnfletcher@yahoo.com
Via NYU Live Wire News Service



1 comment:

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