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.


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Recent News: Manolo Blahnik Shoes

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Complex, January 28th

Last fall, it featured a gym-themed display by Chanel, and had previously showcased both Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik in similar installations. "To get the Fifth Avenue windows and a whole installation in the Luxe Room is a very big deal for us," Wang ...Read more

Manolo Blahnik navrhl první pánskou kolekci
Novinky.cz, January 16th

Obuv špan?lského módního návrhá?e proslavil hlavn? seriál a pozd?ji i filmy Sex ve m?st?. Jejich hlavní p?edstavitelka Sarah Jessica Parkerová m?la lví podíl na Blahnikov? popularit?. Díky filmu se z jeho bot totiž stal ikonický módní dopln?k. Každý...Read more

Manolo Blahnik walks us through the Sir John Soane museum
GQ.com, January 15th

If you've ever been into the Sir John Soane museum on the north side of London's Lincoln's Inn Fields, you'll know it's a labyrinth of tiny rooms packed to bursting with artefacts collected by the famously eccentric architect after whom the building is...Read more

Manolo Blahnik: Why men's shoes?
Sunday World, January 14th

The Spanish designer has become best known for dressing A-list feet in gorgeous stilettos, often with some quirky and intricate detail. On Monday the fashion star unveiled his first line for males as part of London Collections: Men. While he's got...Read more

Manolo Blahnik unveils his first menswear collection
Washington Post, January 13th

January 13, 2015 7:42 PM EST - Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik displayed his newest collection of men's shoes among artifacts at Sir John Soane's Museum in London. (Reuters). RELATED LINKS. VIDEO: Models sport big boots, high hats at Moschino ...Read more

The Man in Manolo
Style.com, January 13th

Manolo Blahnik is in vintage Anderson & Sheppard and an expansive mood. The 72-year-old shoe designer nonpareil is installed in Sir John Soane's Museum, one of London's finest but lesser-celebrated cultural jewels. “I first came here with my parents ...Read more

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iDNES.cz, January 13th

Jeho lodi?ky a sandálky na extra vysokém podpatku zná každý, kdo n?kdy sledoval seriál Sex ve m?st?. Pánské obuvi se ovšem zatím v?noval jen okrajov?, tedy až do letošního roku. V pond?lí p?edstavil legendární designér Manolo Blahnik ve?ejnosti svou ...Read more

Beauty editor goes 'full-on crazy' at Manolo Blahnik sample sale
Page Six, October 29th

Fashion editors became ferocious at the annual Manolo Blahnik sample sale on Wednesday, including one pushy beauty editor who went “full-on crazy.” The one-day, deep-discount sale annually sparks hysteria among fashionistas, and this year's event on ...Read more