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’...
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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Arethusa al tavolo Wine Bar/Restaurant in Bantam Is Fabulous, Food SublimeLitchfield County Times, June 18th
An appetizer, scrambled eggs in their shells 'Manolo Blahnik Style, with lobster, shaved truffles, chives, Grey Goose creme and Osetra caviar. Laurie Gaboardi-The Litchfield County Times. View and purchase photos. Arethusa al tavolo, the wine bar and ...Read more
Fashion Diary Update: June/JulyNouse, June 18th
With the help of Manolo Blahnik's CEO George Malkemus, her line will be more heritage than feathers. Launching exclusively at Nordstrom, with prices around the $200 mark, we may look rather than touch. Finally, nine of France's most luxurious brands...Read more
Just for kicks: shoe swap hits townWinnipeg Free Press, June 18th
Is your footwear wish list more likely to include the names Michael Jordan and LeBron James than Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik? Do you think nothing of spending hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on a pair -- make that multiple pairs -- of shoes that ...Read more
Patricia Field: 'Sex And The City is a religion'Telegraph.co.uk, June 17th
Sex And The City's legendary stylist Patricia Field on taking the show's costumes on a world tour, John Galliano and how it feels to be the woman who made Manolo Blahnik world famous. BY Bibby Sowray | 17 June 2013. Patricia with Roberto and Amadeo of ...Read more
Sarah Jessica Parker teams with Manolo BlahnikVancouver Sun, June 11th
Sarah Jessica Parker has signed up with Manolo Blahnik CEO George Malkemus to market her own line of shoes, plus handbags and trench coats. Need I explain that Parker's character on Sex and the City was obsessed with Blahnik shoes? The new line, to ...Read more
Manolo Blahnik Clarifies Recent SJP CoveragePR Newswire (press release), June 7th
Following recent media reports and discussions on social media, Manolo Blahnik International Ltd would like to clarify that neither the company nor its founder, chairman and designer, Manolo himself, is involved in the recently announced partnership ...Read more
Step Into SJP's ShoesVogue.com, June 7th
Rather fittingly, Parker has chosen to collaborate on the range with George Malkemus, CEO of Manolo Blahnik - the label that, as Bradshaw, she helped put firmly on the fashion map. The accessories line will also feature an edit of bags and a few trench...Read more
Journalism's Louboutin ProblemSlate Magazine (blog), May 28th
inspired the blog Above the Law to dub her a “litigatrix,” and reported that “her shoes—which include pairs from designers Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin—are so legendary that everyone from the president down teases her about her footwear...Read more