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Today is a very special day, for today, the semi-annual Manolo Blahnik sale touches down in midtown. Our correspondent Fawnia Soo Hoo reports live from the scene of the Warwick Hotel at 54th and Sixth. Will she see André Leon Talley? Are they really holding the public at bay until 11am so that the editors can shop in peace? Will the sale be as organized as it was last fall? Read on to find out.
7:30am: Good morning! I just arrived and there isn't a line outside the Warwick. I'll head in to investigate.
7:35am: Guess I didn't need to layer this morning. The wait is taking place in the banquet rooms again. The same Queen Bee as last time is taking names and giving out hierarchical tickets at a check-in desk on the second floor.
7:36am: Fortunately I have a ticket, but it's a red one (she almost gave me a blue ticket, for press, by mistake, but she caught herself. Damn!) By her estimate, I'll get in at 9:45am. Luckily, like last time I have a cushy chair, water, and accessible bathrooms.
7:42am: There are about 15 ladies already here in the red ticket room. Yes, they keep us separated. I'm imagining a big party with mimosas, scones, and ALT in the blue room.
7:45am: The lady with the baby from the last sale is back! I wonder if she'll try on stilettos while wearing the baby in a Bjorn like last time. It also looks like she befriended another woman from the last sale. They're chatting like old college roommates.
7:46am: A few points: It's cash-only, and once you get a ticket you can come and go. The tickets are differentiated by letter as well as color. Blue is "A." I'm "C."
7:52am: Oh wow. They started playing music. "Mr. Wendell"—interesting choice. I like this song, but at Manolo I'd picture more like Euro-techno.
The check-in table in the lobby
7:56am: I took a pass through the lobby and peeked into the blue Room. It's definitely more crowded and animated than the red room. Probably because they'll get in first. I also saw staffers setting up shoes in the sale room.
8:08am: And now they're playing the Hall and Oates version of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." What satellite station is this? The crowd in the red room hasn't grown much. Maybe twenty ladies (plus one baby.) There's a bit of chatting and three women with netbooks (smart.)
8:16am: Just passed through the lobby again and they're not only bringing in boxes of shoes but garment bags, too. It doesn't seem like anything else is going on up in here, so that's interesting. Also, there are now two men in the red room. One walked in and immediately hid in the back.
8:25am: Oooh! I took a slow walk past the garment bag rack and now there's a brown shopping bag hanging on it addressed to ALT. Must be his outfit!
8:31am: It's a family affair today. The girl behind me just chatted on the phone with her grandma ("Hi grandma! I'm at a sale!") and a mother-daughter team just walked in.
The waiting room slowly fills up
8:34am: More people are trickling into the room. One hour and fifteen minutes to go, while I relive the '80s and '90s through music. Now playing: Pre-solo Gwen Stefani No Doubt.
8:45am: Now "Little Red Corvette" is playing. I'm doing a pretty good job preventing myself from singing along karaoke-style—unlike the girl behind me.
8:50am: Another pass through the lobby. Things are gearing up for 9am. The brown shopping bag is gone (replaced, weirdly, by a red gym duffel) and people are going in and out of the sale room. I swear I saw the side of ALT's face before the door slammed shut.
8:57am: Apparently "only Bs" are going in now. Yay! I'm C! I think I heard ALT say "Good morning, everybody." It was a guy's voice, in any case.
9:06am: The girls behind me are marveling at the baby lady and also strategizing. It sounds like they have to buy for other people. One girl seems like a pro: "You have to be FOCUSED. Sandals, strappy, figure it out now. You can't be all willy nilly, you have to have a mission.
9:10am: Another girl, in a low voice: "Now, if I had time, I'd go to Office Depot and buy these tickets and a Sharpie and make my own." Manolo does use the same system every time...
9:15am: Ooh! Queen Bee is here! Announcements: We'll be able to go in soon. It's cash only, but we can leave to go to the ATM and come back. And this year they've tied the shoes together with string so the tripping-while-trying-them-on factor is high. She also asked us if we had enough water. Manolo: So classy!
9:25am: Any minute now. We're all packed up, tickets in hand and ready to charge. The girls behind me are so excited, their language has gotten distinctly R-rated. Ladies! There's a baby here!
9:29am: Some women are leaving their jackets on a rack in order to shop unencumbered. Good thinking. Must be nimble!
9:40am: A girl behind me doesn't know who ALT is. Her friend is explaining and goes "Did you see The September Issue?" Response: "Of what?"
9:42am: Baby lady left, but now she's back. Apparently she was trying to get the baby to sleep. Now she's all excited to shop while the baby naps. Did she bring a sitter? I'm curious to see how this works since the baby is sleeping in a big-ass stroller.
9:47am: They're calling us in!
9:48am: Oh damn. It's just the red A's. I guess I'll be here for a while longer. At least I'm not an H.
9:56am: B's are in now. Hopefully not much longer. I'm thinking that most of the A's and B's must have left after they signed in and come back closer to 9am.
The live coverage continues with a report from inside the sale this way.