Washington, DC in the era of President Trump has become known as “The Swamp” to the American public, not particularly a town synonymous with glamour or even fashion.
With the arrival of First Lady Melania Trump — whose unapologetically fabulous and fashionable look has captured the attention and imagination of the world — the town has certainly stepped up its game in the glamour department.
“A personal invite to the fashion event from the Czech ambassador’s wife,” the subject line of an email reads in my inbox. A fashion event? In Washington, DC? At the Czech Republic’s embassy? Only in the Trump era, where the impossible has been made possible, could such a gathering exist.
The invitation is from the impeccable (and inherently fashionable) Indira Gumarova, the wife of Czech ambassador to the United States, Hynek Kmoníček, and the party is for none other than Gumarova’s close friend and Mrs. Trump’s favorite shoe designer: The world-renowned Manolo Blahnik of Czech and Spanish descent.
As I arrive at the fashion gathering, the residence of the Czech embassy is almost exactly how movie director Sofia Coppola would imagine it to be for one of her films. Grand, chic, animal skins on the walls that party guests told me Ambassador Kmoníček is responsible for.
And across the room is Gumarova, the life of the party, talking in her rich Eastern European accent to a crowd of partygoers about the collection of Manolo Blahnik pumps, mules, strappy stilettos, and kitten heels (Fashion heaven!) that are on display in her home for the party.
Beautiful Czech women in an array of colorful frocks and fur coats (unusual for the buttoned-up, conservative town of Washington, D.C.) and older men with groomed facial hair in tailored suits fill the rooms of the Czech residence.
Myself, in black and white (of course), caught the eye of Gumarova just as I had taken a glimpse of some of the Manolo Blahnik heels.
“You must come see the shoes!” Gumarova exalts to me. The Czech ambassador’s wife (like me) is a genuine fan of fashion. For the party she wore a sequined club dress with giant, draping sleeves and a custom-made pair of Manolo Blahnik pointed-toe stilettos that were signed by the designer on the arch of the shoe.
The Manolo Blahnik shoes are hard not to stare at, even if your fashion sense does not go beyond khakis and polos bought from Target.
Certainly the most exquisite in the room was a pair of never-before-revealed silver slingbacks that have yet to become available to the mass audience. On the décolletage of the shoe are jewels that look as though they were taken from Princess Diana of Wales’ tiara.
“These are so exclusive, they don’t even have a price yet,” Gumarova told me of the slingbacks.
In another casing sat six pairs of shoes. Two of the pairs were famously showcased on the HBO hit show “Sex and the City,” and one of the encased pairs is a favorite of Mrs. Trump.
I was told by a couple of attendees that Mrs. Trump supposedly has an account with Manolo Blahnik where she is able to readily get pumps and stilettos to wear. The pair of navy suede stilettos — the sleekest and simplest of the collection — is the chosen favorite of Mrs. Trump.
“She has these in every color,” Gumarova says of Mrs. Trump as she points to the heels. Indeed, Fashion Notes has repeatedly written about the former Slovenian-born models’ love for this specific set of stilettos.
“Who has better style? Melania Trump or Michelle Obama?” one woman in a beautiful silver, floor-length wrap dress asks me. “Melania, without a doubt,” I respond. Just looking at the shoes she wears to represent the United States practically answers the question for you.
Here she is wearing different versions of the classic Manolo Blahnik pump, which retail for about $500:
Showcased alongside Mrs. Trump’s favorite pump are the blue, silver-buckled “Sex and the City” pumps, a pair of hot pink kitten heels that are reminiscent of the “sexy pilgrim” shoes Manolo Blahnik designed for Isaac Mizrahi in the late 1980’s, and a Marie Antoinette-style slingback that Gumarova says are solely for display, not for wearing.
Fashion for the sake of staring, how charming!
As I made my way to the other side of the Czech residence, a pair of nearly $10,000 Manolo Blahnik lizard, lace-up heels sat on a coffee table. These heels, like the Marie Antoinette pair, are not to be worn.
For any middle-class American, like myself, standing next to a pair of shoes that cost more than a used car is not only jaw-dropping, but it’s a fantasy. “Is this my life?” you ask yourself in the moment.
Awaiting in the fifth room of the Czech residence is a display of three strappy Manolo Blahnik stilettos, one in fuschia, one in red, and the center pair in gold.
“I have a pair that I wear,” a tall, beautiful Czech woman told me at the party. “They’re so comfortable, more comfortable than Christian Louboutins,” her equally as beautiful friend, also a Czech immigrant, says.
The two women, one of which is a fashion designer, proceed to tell me that like the shoes next to us, Czech architecture is filled with life, color, and beauty.
“Growing up under communism, all the buildings [in the Czech Republic] were grey and ugly,” the woman says during our conversation. “When communism ended and because of the rise of capitalism, the buildings got color and are beautiful now,” she says with a smile.
Gumarova eventually shuffles me upstairs to a private screening of the yet-to-be-released documentary on Manolo Blahnik’s life and career, titled “Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards.”
I captured a short glimpse of some of the shoe imagery included in the documentary:
Among other things, the excellent film notes that it was Princess Diana in June 1994 who made Manolo Blahnik a household name when she wore her famous “Revenge Dress.”
Diana wore the sexy black velvet cocktail dress with matching Manolo Blahnik stilettos on the same day that Prince Charles had allegedly admitted his infidelities. The ensemble would go down in history as one of the most iconic looks ever worn by the late Princess of Wales.
Flashback: Princess Diana of Wales wears her famous "Revenge Dress" in June 1994 with a pair of black Manolo Blahnik stilettos. pic.twitter.com/zBc51rgRHn
— John Binder 👽 (@JxhnBinder) March 2, 2018
That was the 1990’s. It’s now 2018 and Diana, unfortunately, is not around to strut down the streets of London in Manolo Blahniks. The world has changed.
But, fortunately for Americans and the world, quite frankly, Mrs. Trump has arrived on the scene to take over as the leading unofficial ambassador for the shoe designer.
“She’s so elegant,” Gumarova says of Melania, as I’m just about to walk out the door. Her elegance, like Diana’s did, has extended past the rooms of the White House and into the midst of the country. This cocktail party is emblematic of that influence.
Finally, glamour is back.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.