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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Social (Media) Climbers: Three Brands to WatchWomen's Wear Daily, October 19th
Meanwhile, at Manolo Blahnik, the shoes tell the story on Instagram — followers check in regularly to find out what unexpected locale the styles have landed in. Metrics like fan counts, shares, comments and retweets help these brands measure their...Read more
Sex and the City: Still A Hit Among the Single GirlsThe Southern News, October 19th
The lines are constantly quoted, many online quizzes exist asking if you're Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda or a Samantha, and because of the show, products such as the Carrie name necklace, the Cosmopolitan and the Manolo Blahnik shoes are extremely ...Read more
Now You Can Get Married the Carrie Bradshaw Way, Sarah Jessica Parker Set ...Bustle, October 18th
A weight that could only be lifted with a tiny pair of blue Manolo Blahnik's, which like Carrie, sat lonely, waiting for the perfect moment to rekindle the broken love between Carrie and Mr. Big. Now, Carrie, er, Sarah Jessica Parker is launching her...Read more
Manolo Blahnik and Jean Paul Gaultier transform the iconic Eastpak backpackIrish Independent, October 9th
Creative talents including Jean Paul Gaultier, Christopher Lee Sauve, Walter Van Beirendonck, Manolo Blahnik, Chris Janssens and Tim Coppens will customise a blank version of the Eastpak Padded Pak'r in order to raise proceeds and awareness for the ...Read more
SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Mary Beard is Manolo Blahnik's secret museDaily Mail, September 24th
Move over, Carrie Bradshaw. Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik — made famous by television show Sex And The City — has a new muse, Cambridge classicist Mary Beard. Not only has he created a design in honour of self-confessed 'shoe addict' Beard, he is ...Read more
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he ...The Independent, September 19th
Manolo Blahnik is a shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'. Born in 1943 to a Spanish mother and a Czech father in the Canary Islands, he produced his first collection in 1972 following the encouragement of American Vogue...Read more
Lydia Bright does a Carrie Bradshaw in blue diamond Manolo Blahnik heelsOK! Magazine, September 19th
Hitting the shops, the lucky reality star strutted her stuff in a pair of blue bejewelled Manolo Blahnik Hangisi heels that were gifted to her by her on-off boyfriend Arg. The £625 stunners famously appeared in the first Sex and the City movie when Mr...Read more
style scene Style Scene: Saks Fifth Avenue hosts Manolo Blahnik, men's eventsTulsa World, September 8th
For more information, call 918-744-0200, ext. 385. Women will make “Sex and the City's” Carrie Bradshaw proud by shopping the Manolo Blahnik fall 2014 collection from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Customers will receive a gift with purchase ...Read more