A banana plantation in the Canary Islands is not the first place most people would associate with high fashion, but that’s where acclaimed shoe designer Manolo Blahnik grew up. Based in London since 1968, Blahnik left his home in Santa Cruz de la Palma in 1965 to study architecture at the University of Geneva and art at L’École du Louvre in Paris.

This unique confluence of rural upbringing and cosmopolitan interests endeared Blahnik to friends like Paloma Picasso who, in 1971, introduced him to Diana Vreeland, the then-editor of “Vogue.” “Your shoes in these drawings are so amusing,” she famously told Blahnik after looking through his portfolio. “Go make shoes.”

Make shoes he did, designing for a boutique in Chelsea called Zapata, which he bought and renamed after himself in 1973. The financing for the purchase was the result of Blahnik’s first big break in 1972, when 1960s fashion icon Ossie Clark invited him to design shoes for his latest collection. Blahnik never looked back.

Blahnik’s shoes have always had one foot, if you will, in fashion and the other in architecture. A very early design from 1971 for Kansai Yamamoto featured a brick-shaped shoe made out of cork and covered in patent leather. In 1976, a shoe called Guge featured straps that were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

At other times in his career, Blahnik has treated his shoes almost as figures, bedecking a simple blue mule from the 1980s, for example, with a contrasting coral necklace on the vamp. His slides and slippers often drip with costume jewels until they resemble a Miriam Haskell or Trifari confection from the 1930s, ’40s, or ’50s. No wonder noted collectibles author Judith Miller has described Blahnik’s shoes as “jewelry for the feet.”

One of the last one-man operations in the fashion industry, Blahnik is known for his craftsmanship and attention to even the smallest details. Despite his success, he carves the wooden lasts (or molds) for his shoes himself, as well as the heels. And even though he has a factory in Italy turning out his high-heel pumps, mid-heel halters, and sandals with vine-like ankle wraps, the handwork on Manolos, as they are collectively known, is so extensive that less than 100 pair are produced a day.

Over the years, Manolos have accented the fashions of everyone from Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior to Calvin Klein and Isaac Mizrahi. Clients have included two of Mick Jaggar’s wives (Bianca and Jerry Hall), Princess Di, Jackie O., Madonna, and Marge Simpson who, though not a client in the strict sense, reveals the extent of Blahnik’s reach into popular culture. Indeed, the obsession of the Carrie Bradshaw character in “Sex and the City,” which debuted in 1998, made Manolo Blahnik a household name.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Shoes

All About Shoes

From Canada's Bata Shoe Museum comes a visually impressive exhibit focusing on the history of the shoe from traditi… [read review or visit site]

Virtual Shoe Museum

Virtual Shoe Museum

This virtual museum from Shoe Icons Publishing showcases over 800 pairs of shoes and related reference information.… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Manolo Blahnik Bb Python Size 7 New!! 70mm HeelManolo Blahnik Hangisi Womens 38 8 Blue Satin Jeweled Pumps Shoes Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Jeweled Blue Satin Pump - Size 8 NarrowManolo Blahnik Stilettos, Black, Size 39 (8.5m). Mint, Worn Twice!!Manolo Blahnik Flats Size 8 New !!Manolo Blahnik Navy Blue Suede Ankle Strap Stiletto Sandal Heels Size 38 8Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Womens 38 8 Blue Satin Jeweled Pumps Shoes New Manolo Blahnik Chocolate Brown Sandal Sz 39Manolo Blahnik Bb Black Patent Leather Pump 41- Worn SparinglyManolo Blahnik Black Leather Slingback Carolyne Pump Kitten High Heel Shoe 39 Manolo Blahnik Purple Leather Pleated Detail Slingbacks Sandals Size 41.5 11.5New Manolo Blahnik Sandals Slide Flip Flop Lime Color Sz 39Gorgeous Manolo Blahnik Tittomi Patent Leather Flats-sz 39-88% Off+sale Today!!!Manolo Blahnik Size 9 Women's Black Bb Pointy Toe Pump, Bb011Manolo Blahnik Pointy Toe V-notch Black Silk Mules 2 Inch Kitten Heels Eu 38W39 New Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Pink Satin Shimmery Crystal Buckle Flats Sz 38Manolo Blahnik Brown Patent Leather Slip On High Slim Heel Pumps Size 41 Ll19llManolo Blahnik Navy Blue Suede Almond Toe Block Heel Pumps Size 39,9Manolo Blahnik Brown Crocodile Strappy Susa Sandals Size 39Manolo Blahnik Nude & Black Snakeskin Jeweled Kitten Heels Size 40.5Manolo Blahnik Nude Patent Leather Almond Toe Foka Pumps Size 37.5Manolo Blahnik Black Suede Flat Shoes - Size 38 - New! Authentic Made In Italy Manolo Blahnik Suede Cream Mother Of Pearls Slip On 37.5New Manolo Blahnik Bb 105mm Mesh Shimmer (glitter) Pumps Size 38.5/8.5 $745.00Manolo Blahnik 38.5 Sparkle PumpsManolo Blahnik Brown Leather Knotted Slide Kitten Heels Size 39 New$745 Manolo Blahnik Ripta Patent Leather Leather Mule Pumps Sandals Size 41Manolo Blahnik Multi-color Snakeskin Rounded Toe Pumps Size 40 10 Ll19llManolo Blahnik Black Mesh Pointed Toe Pumps Size 40.5Manolo Blahnik Toe Ring Sandals Ladies Size 42 Black Suede Kitten Heels ShoesManolo Blahnik Bb Black 9.5 39.5 Suede Pointy Toe Classic Pump Shoe $595Manolo Blahnik Bronze Evening Open Toe Heel Size 37 1/2. Excellent Condition Manolo Blahnik "caroline" Black Leather Pointed D'orsay Slingback Heels Sz 39.5 Used Manolo Blahnik Sandals In Size 42 (fits Size 10 Us)Manolo Blahnik Brown Leather Kitten Heels 38Manolo Blahnik Black Patent Leather & Leather Ballet Flats Size 35.5Pink Suede Manolo Blahnik- Size 37 Handmade In ItalyManolo Blahnik 37 Slides Heels Sandals Plaid Tweed Patent Heels Black LimitedManolo Blahnik Brown Leather Slip On High Heel Pointed Toe Mules 39.5 Ll19llVintage Manolo Blahnik Oxblood Patent Leather Kitten Heel SlingbacksManolo Blahnik Pointy Tan / Nude Patent Leather Heels / Pumps 38.5 8Manolo Blahnik Tan Leather T-strap Peep Toe Heels Size 39Manolo Blahnik Brown Lizard Woven Slide Kitten Heels Size 39T21 Manolo Blahnik Graco Black Suede Lace-up Pointy Pumps Womens Size 36Manolo Blanhik Heels Size 38Manolo Blahnik Brown Leather Classic Stiletto Heels Shoes Sz 10 SnakeskinZ7 Manolo Blahnik Carolyne Sparkle Silver Fabric Mid Heel Sandal Women Sz 39.5I13 Manolo Blahnik Elle White Leather Loafer Mule Women Size 37.5 MZ33 Manolo Blahnik Carolyne Pink Leather Slingback Pointy Toe Pump Women Sz 37.5Manolo Blahnik Black Suede Quilted Flats - 37 1/2Manolo Blahnik Black Suede Bow Pointy Toe Slingback Pumps Size 37 Manolo Blahnik White Sandals Size 36Manolo Blahnik Women's Flat Black Satin Shoes Topied Size 9Manolo Blahnik Quilted Patent Leather Ballet Flats Size 37Manolo Blahnik Black Gray Suede Leather Trim Peep Toe Pumps Size 40.5 10.5Manolo Blahnik Black Leather And Suede Lace-up Flats - Size 38100% Authentic Manolo Blahnik Pumps Nude W Feathers 39.5Manolo Blahnik White Satin Round Toe Ankle Strap Pumps Size 38.5 8.5Beautiful Manolo Blahnik Beige Satin/floral Strap Heels - 36 1/2Manolo Blahnik Black Leather Open Toe Slide Flip Flop Sandals Size 37