Monday, September 18, 2017

Of the people

The view from inside Cafe Luxembourg. 10:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, September 18, 2017.  In the low 80s and kinda humid during the day this past weekend with maybe some rain in those passing dark clouds, but no.

Last Thursday, Liz Peek, Gail Hilson, and Lauren Veronis held a reception for New York Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis who is running for Mayor on the Republican ticket. She now represents a portion of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and East Shore, Staten Island. Ms. Malliotakis grew up on Staten Island, daughter of a Greek father and a Cuban mother. For those readers outside of New York who are unaware of these matters, she is running against the incumbent, Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Nicole Malliotakis at the African American Day Parade in Harlem on Sunday.
I was invited to attend but didn’t make it because of another commitment which I’ll get into in a moment. I make it a point to stay away from political opinions, as readers know, for the simple reason that everyone has a right to his or her opinion. Period.

However, I had hoped to meet (see) Ms. Malliotakis because until I got the invitation, I hadn’t heard about her. You can chalk that up to my lack of following the “campaign” because all you see in the papers is editorial about Mr. de Blasio, and I was left with the opinion that he was running for re-election without any opposition.
Nicole at the Great Irish Fair in Brooklyn on Saturday.
Lack of opposition in a political race usually indicates overwhelming popularity, and yet, here in New York, I rarely hear a good word about the Mayor. This has been true since his First Day in office.  His unpopularity — if that’s the right word for it — in the beginning was stunning not because of anything he’d said or done, but because he was mysteriously (to me) disliked (to put it mildly).

I’d never seen that in a winning candidate’s public image. I have since, of course. I knew nothing about him before he ran the first time, never even heard his name. After he was elected I saw him speak at a Wildlife Conservation Society gala when Hillary Clinton was given an award. He seemed affable and articulate.
Speaking to senior citizens in Queens.
And yet, and yet, mention his name and someone within earshot will still utter some kind of disdain. And yet, from the beginning of this current campaign, all of the snippets I’ve heard were about was that no one could raise the money to run against him. However, I’m out of the loop on this matter and because I never ask, I only hear what others ask or tell me. It’s not unlike the matter of Donald Trump. President Trump, however, has proven by dint of his election that he is very popular, and so it leaves me to wonder if indeed, so is Mr. de Blasio, and we just don’t know it.

So I was sorry I missed seeing and hearing Ms. Malliotakis because she is still “of the people” unlike so many others nowadays. It occurred to me that, like our President, she may have a campaign message that reverberates.  I’m always reminded of that line from the Lord’s Prayer that I’ve mulled over many times in my life in trying to understand our motivations: “Lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.”

That’s kind of what we hope for in life for ourselves, as well as — if not mainly — for our politicians. Maybe it’s just another hazardous stop along the way in these treacherous times.
A friend of dogs.
Now, the reason I didn’t get over to the Peeks was because JH and I had been invited by Andrew Saffir of the Cinema Society to the “World Premiere” of Manolo: the Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards. I wanted to see it for a couple of reasons, the first being what motivated the legend, and the second because it was at the Frick.

The Frick is not some other screening room. Your presence  there announces something quite contrary. It is at times a wonder, a solace, and an elevation of spirit. It’s also got what they used to say in Show Business: “Class.” Premiering “Manolo…” there was top of the line as these “public” screenings go. The Cinema Society is a brilliant marketer of product, and here was the evidence. From the beginning, it was a pleasure just to be there.
Passing by the 70th Street Garden of The Frick.
The man himself entertaining and enlightening the photographers in the Entrance Court.
Beautiful floral arrangements flanked the entrance to the Garden Court.
The Garden Court. This view never gets old.
Looking south across the Garden Court.
Manolos front and center.
I got there on time but it turned out to be too early.  (I could have gone to the Peeks’.) Waiters in black tie were holding trays of sparkling water or champagne. The limited guest list — the Frick’s lecture/screening room cannot hold more than 175 or so — had a good cross-section of fashion and social people.

In the crowd I spotted Reinaldo and Carolina Herrera, who were seated with Manolo; Kristina Blahnik, James Cabourne (executive producer); Mario Testino, Bianca Jagger, Rachel Roy, Sarah Wynter, Olivia Grant, Amy Astley, Anne McNally, Erin Fetherston and Gabriel Saporta, Indre Rockefeller, Joan Juliet Buck, Tonne Goodman, Veronica Webb, Sante D’Orazio, Iris Apfel, Amy Fine Collins, Valerie Simpson, Jennifer Creel, Daniel Benedict, Whitney Fairchild, Debbie Bancroft, Ashley Haas, Jamee and  Peter Gregory, Adam Lippes, Allison Sarofim, Jazmin Grimaldi, Ian Mellencamp, Louisa Warwick, and many more.
Ready for its premiere in the Music Room.
I’d never met Manolo. Still haven’t (I don’t think) although I’ve seen him more than once at Michael’s. He’s big man with white hair that betrays his youthful personality. You can’t not like him, male or female. And the women obviously adore him. At the end of the film, Isaac Mizrahi comments that one of the phenomena of Manolo’s work (his shoes) is that women find them “so comfortable” no matter how high the heel. Coincidentally on Saturday night I had dinner with a friend and told her I had seen the film. Her first response was her joy in owning two pair and that they are “so comfortable.” Another friend of mine who now owns more than a few pairs told me that one summer when she was in college she had a part time job in a restaurant so that she could buy a pair. They were then $375. All she earned in that part time job. She still has them, and still wears them.
Manolo with Bianca Jagger.
Manolo with Carolina Herrera.
Manolo with Emily Smith, Myrna Suarez, and Greg Calejo.
Manolo with Kristina Blahnik.
Manolo with Olivia Grant.
The man himself is an artist, born and bred. He grew up on a remote Spanish Canary island where the little boy would catch lizards and make shoes out of candy wrappers for them. This childhood fascination has remained with him entirely. You could say the man’s life is to make shoes, beautiful shoes that flatter the women who wear them.

I could on and on about the wonders of Manolo, a very charming man with an almost (but not quite) childlike sense of humor. But you must see this film for the sheer pleasure of learning about him. His life is surrounded by beauty, and its from within as well. His greatest pleasure each day is to go to his factory and personally make the sample.  It’s a Technicolor movie of a Technicolor life with a message for those feet that move it forward.
Manolo with Indira Gumarova, Veronica Webb, and Chris Del Gatto.
Manolo with Any Fine Collins. Manolo with Iris Apfel.
Oh, before I forget, among those who were interviewed in the film were Paloma Piccaso, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Rupert Everett, Rihanna, Karlie Kloss, Isaac Mizrahi, André Leon Talley, and Anna Wintour. It was an additional pleasure to see Ms. Wintour whom I do not know, have never met and have only seen from across the room. The image in public is rather like ice wrapped in silk and cashmere. A very good looking woman, she’s not a candidate for warm and cuddly from the looks of her. However, on film, you see a quite different image. She’s girlish and charming about her friend and reveals herself to be truly that person she is on-camera. She only wears Manolo, she said. You get it; you can see on screen what a pleasure his comfortable shoes can bring out in a lady.
Rachel Roy.
Bianca Jagger, Mario Testino, and Carolina Herrera.
Sante D'Orazio and Enga Purevjav.
Sarah Wynter and Helen Cummings.
Ashley Haas.
Louisa Warwick.
Anh Duong.
Whitney Fairchild and Nacho Ramos.
Alejandra Cicognani and Reinaldo Herrera.
Jennifer Creel.
James Cabourne.
Ebonee Davis.
Amy Astley.
Valerie Simpson and b Michael.
Anne McNally.
Allison Sarofim.
Debbie Bancroft.
Debbie's Manolos.
Veronika Dash and Ashley Haas.
Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and Ian Mellencamp.
Chris Del Gatto, Veronica Webb, and Andrew Saffir.
Erin Fetherston and Gabe Saporta.
Reinaldo and Carolina Herrera.
Jamee and Peter Gregory. Tonne Goodman and Joan Juliet Buck.
Catching a glimpse of the Fifth Avenue Garden upon exiting the Frick, 10 PM.

Photographs by Patrick McMullan (Manolo screening)

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