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 Hangisi Crimson 7.5 37.5 Jewel Buckle Pointed Pump Shoe New $965Manolo Blahnik Bb Merlot Red 7 37 Suede Pointed Toe Classic Pump Shoe New $595Manolo Blahnik Bb Black 9 39 Suede Pointed Toe Classic Pump Shoe $595Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Cobalt 8.5 38.5 Satin Jewel Pointed Ballet Shoe New $995Manolo Blahnik Ganici White Black 7.5 37.5 Snake Stripe Point Pump Shoe New $855Manolo Blahnik Artemisia Brown L8 R7.5 Slouchy Knee Boot Shoe New $1395 MismateManolo Blahnik Bb Natural Multi 8 38 Cork Paint Splatter Pointed Pump Shoe $695Manolo Blahnik Lasti Nude Black 10 40 Crisscross Slingback Sandal Shoe New $695Manolo Blahnik Bb Gray Multi 6.5 36.5 Watersnake Pointed Toe Pump Shoe New $935Manolo Blahnik Bb Black 7 37 Suede Pointed Toe Classic Pump Shoe New $595Manolo Blahnik Classic Black High Heel Pointed Toe Pump 41/ Us 11Manolo Blahnik Irie Black 10.5 40.5 Quilted Point Cap Toe Halter Pump Shoe $655Manolo Blahnik Chaos Metallic Gold 6.5 36.5 Leather Ankle Strap Sandal Shoe $725Manolo Blahnik Black Patent Leather Mary Jane Heels Size 35.5Manolo Blahnik Speed Navy Blue 9 39 Suede Whipstitch Moc Toe Loafer Shoe $595Manolo Blahnik Pink Leather Flower Embellished Sandals Size 36 NewManolo Blahnik Chaos Nude Beige 5.5 35.5 Patent Ankle Strap Sandal Shoe New $725Lot Of Women's Black Heels Prada & Manolo BlahnikManolo Blahnik Hangisi Blue Size 8 38 Satin Flats W/ Jeweled Buckle Shoe $955Manolo Blahnik Black Lizard Slide Heels Size 37 NewFashion Sale - Womens Manolo Blahnik Maroon Suede High Heels Size 38 1/2Huge Lot Manolo Blahnik Womans Black Shoes Flats Heels 38 1/2Manolo Blahnik Bb Pointy Toe Pump Nude Patent Size 39/ 9Manolo Blahnik Fabio Black White 5.5 35.5 Stripe Point Slingback Pump Shoe $765Manolo Blahnik Black Patent Leather Pointed Toe Cut Out Pumps Size 37.5 7.5Manolo Blahnik Copper Patent Bb 39Manolo Blahnik Brown Leather Mid-calf Boots Size 36Manolo Blahnik Snakeskin Heels / Sandals / Slides Size 7 No Reserve $1 Start$795 Manolo Blahnik Snakeskin Sandals Manolo Blahnik Blue Suede Size 38.5 High Heel Stilettos $695 Peep Toe Sandals Designer Manolo Blahnik Gold Sandals/heels. Size 39Manolo Blahnik Dark Brown Suede Zip Up Boots W/ Fringe Heels Size 39 (us = 8.5)Womens Manolo Blahnik Strappy Heel Sz. 9.5Women's Manolo Blahnik Leopard Sandals, Size 40Manolo Blahnik Brown Leather And Suede Kitten Heels With Buckle Size 37.5Manolo Blahnik Shoes 40.5Manolo Blahnik Yellow Black Suede Open Toe Slingbacks Size 38 8Manolo Blahnik Black Beaded Kitten Heel Mules Sz 41Beautiful Manolo Blahnik Tapestry Kitten Heel Shoes Size 41Manolo Blahnik Zip Front Boot Size 40 Us 10Manolo Blahnik Shoes 40.5Manolo Blahnik 'bb' Pointy Toe Pump Black Size 37Manolo Blahnik Brocade & Jeweled Neiman Marcus Exclusive Shoe Size 40 MuleManolo Blahnik Red Patent Leather HeelsManolo Blahnik Black Leather Pointed Toe Slide Heels Size 38Manolo BlahnikManolo Blahnik Black Satin Gotria Summer Wedding Heels Shoes Sz 39.5 Us 9.5Manolo Blahnik Beige Satin Brown Lace Bb Point Toe Pumps Size 34.5 NwdManolo Blahnik ShoesAuthentic Manolo Blahnik Almazan Slingback Heels 40 / 10Women's Authentic Manolo Blahnik Italy Dark Brown Leather Shoes Sz 37 1/2 Manolo Blahnik Mauve Pink Satin Gotria Summer Wedding Heels Shoes Sz 39.5 Us 9.5Manolo Blahnik Driving ShoesManolo Shoes Size 40.5Manolo Blahnik Black Satin Slingback Pumps Size 36.5Manolo Blahnik Gray/crem Real Snakeskin Hi-heel Slingbk Pump Shoe (euc) 10m 40.5Manolo Blahnik Heels Size 38.5/8.5 Peep Toe Strappy Black/brownManolo Blahnik Suede Two Tone Driver Moccasins, Loafers- Navy, 37.5$545 Manolo Blahnik Gala Tan Leather Tweed Heels Pumps 40.5 10.5Manolo Blahnik Snakeskin Peeptoe Flats Sz 39