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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Top Shops: Karen Caldwell's Wine Country shopping picksSFGate, September 18th
Footcandy A shoe lover's paradise, Foot Candy stocks all the usual designer suspects — Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin — but the store also carries more approachable labels, including Loeffler Randall and Vince Camuto. Bonus: An ...Read more
TOWIE's Lydia Bright and Ferne McCann step out in matching white ensemblesDaily Mail, September 18th
Its no secret that they are two of the most stylish cast members of The Only Way Is Essex. So as Lydia Bright and Ferne McCann stepped out in London on Thursday afternoon they did so in coordinated fashion. Both opting for the angelic look, the ladies ...Read more
What Fashion Footwear Is Always Lacking!Huffington Post (blog), September 18th
There are many new hot styles available this fall by shoe designers such as Steve Madden, Kenneth Cole, Christian Louboutin, Chinese Laundry, Nine West, Manolo Blahnik, Prada and many more. The height of the heel can vary in size and shape, the inner ...Read more
Party Scene: Inside Harrods Shoe HeavenWomen's Wear Daily, September 17th
The department store and footwear partner Kurt Geiger officially unveiled the revamped floor — now the largest luxury footwear space in the world — at a packed event on Tuesday. It drew top designers, including Manolo Blahnik, Nicholas Kirkwood...Read more
How Hollywood Stylist Kate Young Keeps Her Energy UpYahoo News, September 15th
She logs nearly as much time in her sneaks as her stilettos (90s-inspired classic pumps from Manolo Blahnik are a favorite at the moment). Fresh off the Fall 2014 shows, the Oscars, and a much-needed respite to Palm Springs, Young finds time to tell us...Read more
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
Sarah Jessica Parker presenta zapatos imitando a sus Manolo BlahnikGaceta de Salamanca, August 27th
EP La actriz que dio vida a Carrie Bradshaw en la exitosa serie Sexo en Nueva York, Sarah Jessica Parker, repite con la firma americana Nordstrom, lanzando su segunda colección de zapatos y accesorios inspirados en su propio estilo. Su pasión por la ...Read more
Anna Wintour Gets A Fashion Allowance That's More Than Most People's Yearly ...Bustle, August 21st
The editor adores chic essentials with a modern couture twist, from fur-lined trench coats to those peep toe Manolo Blahnik's she still favors, of course paired with a lightly embellished sheath dress or tweed skirt suit. The following is a Fall/Winter...Read more