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
Virtual Shoe Museum
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Manolo Blahnik Shoes
Source: Google News
Manolo Blahnik honored for artistry by fashion school museumSioux City Journal, April 18th
FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2014 file photo, Manolo Blahnik poses for photographers at The British Fashion Awards 2014, in London. Blahnik will be honored with the Artistry of Fashion award from The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology on September...Read more
Shoe Guru Manolo Blahnik Honored for Artistry by FIT Museumartnet News, April 14th
And thanks to Sex and the City, "Manolo Blahnik" was cemented into every fangirl's mind when Sarah Jessica Parker dropped the designer's name in several episodes. But Mr. Blahnik's career was not all smooth sailing, his label took a back seat soon...Read more
Manolo Blahnik To Be Honored With FIT's 2015 Couture Council AwardFootwear News, April 10th
The Couture Council of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology has just announced that Manolo Blahnik will receive the 2015 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion. The honor will take place a the annual award luncheon on Wednesday, ...Read more
Style Notes: Fashion Weighs In on Apple Watch; Manolo Blahnik to Receive ...Hollywood Reporter, April 9th
With pre-orders available beginning on Friday, the fashion community is abuzz with talk about the Apple watch. Fashion designers including Adam Selman and Band of Outsiders' Scott Sternberg chatted with i-D magazine about whether we can expect to see ...Read more
For Manolo Blahnik, a Career-Crowning AwardNew York Times, April 8th
For Manolo Blahnik — Mr. Blahnik, as he is known, even in a first-name world — the time is now. The designer, a onetime '70s gadabout on the circuit with Tina Chow, Bianca Jagger and Paloma Picasso, celebrated his namesake label's 40th anniversary in ...Read more
It's True: You Can Now Own Manolo Blahnik SocksStyleCaster, March 31st
If you've ever dreamed of owning a Manolo Blahnik collection that would rival Carrie Bradshaw's but decided to pay your rent instead, you might be excited as we are to learn that the brand teamed up with Germany hosiery brand Falke to launch a...Read more
Manolo Blahnik, Falke Team UpWWD, March 27th
“We're a family owned company, too, and just happy to work with Manolo Blahnik,” said Falke, international PR director of the German knitwear manufacturer. Hot pink carnations were arranged to resemble the pompoms that dangle from the socks, while the ...Read more
Manolo Blahnik and Falke Release Sock CollaborationFootwear News, March 26th
Consummate sock lover Manolo Blahnik has turned his legwear passion into reality for men and women. The U.K.-based designer partnered with German company Falke on a small selection of unisex socks, which went on sale today at Becauselondon.com...Read more