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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Cannes Film Festival 2013: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jessica Biel, Vidya Balan ...IBTimes.co.uk, May 19th
The 31-year-old finished the look with a serpent necklace from Bvlgari, a diamond-studded clutch bag and Manolo Blahnik shoes. Meanwhile, her husband, the 32-year-old Friends With Benefits star, looked dapper in a Balenciaga tuxedo, a Cartier watch and...Read more
Lessons from the stylish: Inès de la FressangeTelegraph.co.uk, May 19th
she asks the PR before launching into an off-message elegy to her favourite Manolo Blahnik shoes, as well as to Rene Mancini, an under-celebrated Italian designer. That too is typical - and why she was such a clever match for Vivier. She's not your...Read more
Jennifer Lawrence Wows in White During Catching Fire Party Before Almost ...E! Online, May 19th
Hunger Games: Catching Fire party during the Cannes Film Festival, when she slipped into this gorgeous, white strapless Christian Dior dress with a printed detail on the side, which was accentuated by her bright fuchsia Manolo Blahnik pointed...Read more
Diane von Furstenberg and Manolo Blahnik's Designer Masks, Peter Som's New ...StyleBistro, May 13th
Diane von Furstenberg and Manolo Blahnik created bespoke masks for a Sotheby's auction benefiting The Elephant Family — an initiative that aims to protect Asian elephants and their habitat. [Vogue UK] Peter Som is the latest designer to lend his...Read more
Designers Go Wild For Animal BallVogue.com, May 13th
DESIGNERS including Diane von Furstenberg, Manolo Blahnik and Matthew Williamson have created bespoke masks for a charity event. The Elephant Family - an initiative that aims to protect Asian elephants and their habitat - enlisted the help of a host of...Read more
The Abridged Version of Today's Insane Manolo Blahnik SaleRacked NY, May 9th
If you're asking yourself what the hell happened at the Manolo sale?, let us fill you in. The short version is that the morning was a madhouse. (And the longer version can be found here.) Basically, everything was in complete disarray—there was a sign...Read more
The Jimmy Choo Sample Sale Joins Manolo and LouboutinRacked NY (blog), April 29th
The Manolo Blahnik sample sale is confirmed for May 9th, the Christian Louboutin sale will begin on May 13th, and now, Jimmy Choo has announced its sale will begin on May 7th at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Mizhattan reports that the morning of the 7th...Read more
The Manolo Blahnik Sale Has a Date: Wednesday, May 8thRacked NY (blog), April 23rd
Gird your wallets: the Manolo Blahnik sample sale is set to return on Thursday, May 9th. Mizhattan reports that sale at The Warwick will open to invited guests the day before, and will let in the general, plebeian public at 9am on Thursday. As a...Read more