Shoe Shopping With André Leon Talley

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Photo: Sally Holmes

Early this morning we braved the Manolo Blanhik sample sale, mostly for the counseling Vogue’s André Leon Talley might offer as the event’s official master of ceremonies. Prepared for the usual cut-a-bitch frenzy, we were pleasantly surprised to find an almost calm atmosphere in the small room in the Warwick Hotel. After wading our way through lady shoppers and tables piled high with shoe boxes, we spotted the guest of honor sitting in a small chair off to the side — the only male in the room aside from the security guards — sipping a cappuccino and offering his opinion to a few girls modeling their finds.

When the Vogue staffer saw us approaching empty-handed, he adamantly sent us away to find shoes for him to approve: “Go show me what you’re going to get and I’ll advise you. Go! Go show me what you’re going to get!”

Returning with arms full of shoes, we presented the first option: high leopard-print heels adorned with sequins. “They’re beautiful. Put them on! You don’t like them? They’re beautiful, leopard ... They’re beautiful. And you have beautiful feet. Those you have to have. And beautiful legs too,” ALT gushed. Waving away our worries about the height of the heels and our fear of falling in his lap, the editor exclaimed, “No that’s okay, that’s okay! You go to the party, get out of the car, step into the party, leave.” Clearly relishing his role as Prince Charming, ALT explained how he got the part, “Well, you know I was here last year and women love to get advice from a Vogue contributing editor. And I love Manolo Blahnik, he’s like my brother; we were separated at birth. And I think his shoes are the sum total of elegance, and as Madonna says, ‘often they’re better than sex,’ and look at the women here, it’s like Christmas in April, and I love it.” Taking his part seriously, ALT criticized, complimented, and was even prepared to get hands-on if need be. “If they want me to touch their feet, I’m touching feet. I’m advising, everything except a pedi and a massage. But you see, people are coming and they’re asking opinions.”

Next up was a black pair of satin heels with a T-strap. “They’re beautiful. You have beautiful feet.” Going head-to-head with the leopard heels, ALT chose the black pair. “Those are beautiful. The leopards are too high, you can’t walk in them!” With a crowd starting to form around him, ALT offered effusive explanations of “beautiful, you must have those, fabulous, orgasmic!” as women showed off their picks. The master of ceremonies only lost his cool when he was confronted with a pair of frumpy size 6 Cole Haan boots that had been found on a table, abandoned by their owner. “Someone took off their shoes and left their Cole Haan shoes. Ya’ll have to be careful. Can you believe that? What do you mean they’re not even that bad!? Can you believe? Can you believe what people do? Pathetic little thing about how people do that.”

At this point we decided to leave our Prince Charming to the pack of ladies vying for his attention and purchase the black T-straps. Because Mr. Talley said so.