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Who cares if 46.2 million Americans are in poverty? Pulitzer Prize-winning NY Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd lives the dream and goes to the Manolo Blahnik sample sale with Vogue contributing editor Andre Leon Talley for her column today. For real.

Perhaps Dowd was tempted by Talley's Tweet last week, "Up at six a.m. to get off to the war zone of the Manolo Blahnik semi-annual shoe sale in NYC at Warwick Hotel. Glamorous mayhem." She wrote:

If you thought the recession had dampened interest in luxury accessories, you didn’t see the women lined up after daybreak at the Warwick Hotel on Thursday. A room there was the scene of one of New York’s most feral anthropological tableaus: the biannual Manolo Blahnik sample sale. Talley has been ringmaster of this sartorial circus for three years running.

Not since Cinderella’s stepsisters mutilated their feet to squeeze into that glass slipper have women leveled such fierce desire at footwear. At last fall’s sale, two women dumped their babies on Manolo employees in the lobby as they sped into the room.

Inside, a thousand pairs of shoes are heaped on tables in plastic bags. Some scofflaws wear old shoes, leave them on a table, and sneak out with new ones.

I stopped by the 10 1/2 table to look for a Christmas present for a friend. “Have you seen any flats?” I asked a woman avidly pawing through the pile.

“If I find them,” she snapped, “I won’t tell you.”

Takeaway: Women are such selfish bitches when it comes to shoes.

But let's get back to Talley, who is one of the judges on America's Next Top Model (yes, Nico Muhly, we did see him wearing the coolie hat a few weeks ago and he does seem very partial to caftans) and is most definitely not afraid of giving his opinions ("dreckitude!").

He instructs a lady trying on brown boots: “That white saddle stitching will fit right in in Rockland County, sweetie — suburban chic!” (She was indeed from Rockland County.) He likes a pair of navy suede chevalier boots that a New York Post writer is wriggling into. “Very Toulouse-Lautrec in a bordello.” When she can’t get them zipped, he shakes his head: “Your calves are too fat. Stop going to the gym so much.”

Zing! Then again, Talley's idea of exercise is tennis... or contemplating his tennis accessories.

Anyway, Talley is pleased with MoDo's piece, "Still very energized by Maureen Dowd's Dorothy Parker-esque narrative of my marathon hosting of Blannik shoe sale."