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

All About Shoes

From Canada's Bata Shoe Museum comes a visually impressive exhibit focusing on the history of the shoe from traditi… [read review or visit site]

Virtual Shoe Museum

Virtual Shoe Museum

This virtual museum from Shoe Icons Publishing showcases over 800 pairs of shoes and related reference information.… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Manolo Blahnik Hangisi Bronze 10 40 Glitter Crystal Buckle Pump Shoe New $985Manolo Blahnik Bronze Bb Metal Mesh Pumps $675 Size 37Manolo Blahnik Wotton Raspberry Pink Purple Suede T-strap Pointed Pumps 37.5 7$725.00 New Authentic Manolo Blahnik Silver Sandals Heels Shoes Size 37.5 Us 7.5Manolo Blahnik Issima Beige L7.5 R7 Leopard Wedge Sandal Shoe New $645 MismateManolo Blahnik Frontal Dark Blue L7 R7.5 Slingback Sandal Shoe New $745 MismateManolo Blahnik Black White L7 R6.5 Perforated Mesh Pump Shoe New $695 MismateManolo Blahnik Carolyn Laser-cut Patent Low-heel Halter Pump White Sz 10 40.5Manolo Blahnik Lisane Gray L10 R9.5 Suede Point Bow Pump Shoe New $695 MismateManolo Blahnik Painted Heels Size 36/6Manolo Blahnik Black Patent Slingback Pointy Toe Size 37Manolo Blahnik Blue Suede Pumps Size 36Manolo Blahnik Natural Brown L7.5 R7 Raffia Peep Bootie Sandal Shoe New MismateManolo Blahnik Black Patent Leather High Heel Shoes Size 37 Made In ItalyManolo Blahnik Butterfly Patent Pumps, Sz 8Manolo Blahnik $725 At Barneys - Strappy Sandal 38 1/2 Beige And WhiteManolo Blahnik 'sedaraby' Open Toe Gold Jeweled Pump - Size 37 1/2Manolo Blahnik Cream Leather Ankle Strap Heels Size 39Manolo Blahnik M-tayler Bicolor Black/white Leather Pump 41 / 11 Authentic NewManolo Blahnik Slingback Snakeskin Heels, Sz 7New Authentic Manolo Blahnik Hangisi 105 Royal Blue Satin Shoes Heels Pump Manolo Blahnik Beige Tan Leather Pointed Toe Pumps Sz 40 10Manolo Blahnik Black Leather Silver Chain Sandals Size 37.5Manolo Blahnik Compulsaba Strappy Sandals, Sz 7Manolo Blahnik Scomess Elastic-collar Black L9 R9.5 Bootie Shoe New $895 MismateManolo Blahnik Campari Navy Silver L8.5 R9 Pointed Mj Pump Shoe New $735 MismateManolo Blahnik Blk Patent Leather Mary Janes Sz 37 NewManolo Blahnik Turquoise Strappy Heels Size 39.5Manolo Blahnik Black Leather Side Lacing Calf Hair High Heel Booties, 41 (us 10)Manolo Blahnik Denim Flats Size 39 1/2 Never WornManolo Blahnik Leather Metallic Gold Sandals Size 35.5Manolo BlahnikManolo Blahnik Black Leather Heels Pumps Size 39 Made In ItalyVintage 90s Manolo Blahnik Kitten Heel Mules 39.5Manolo Blahnik Flats Sz 36Manolo Blahnik 35.5 Gold SandalsManolo Blahnik ShoesVintage Snake Reptile Leather Manolo Blahnik Heels Size 36.5Manolo Blahnik Silver Leather Beaded T-strap Heels Size 39.5Manolo Blahnik Carolyne Embossed Black Slingback Heels Sz 39 Us Sz 9 EucManolo Blahnik Black 35 5 Heels Slingback LeatherManolo Blahnik - Beautiful Elegant Designer Shoe, 38.5 SizeNib $745 Manolo Blahnik Umice Nude Pump Heels Leather Sz 37.5 7.5Manolo Blahnik Bright Yellow Satin Rhinestone Detail Pointed Toe Pumps Size 36 6Manolo Blahnik Black Patent Leather Mary Jane Pumps Sz 38 Euro 8 Us *44*Manolo Blahnik Size 37 PumpsManolo Blahnik Black And White Fabric Heels With Crystal Detail Size Eu 36.5Vintage Manolo Blahnik Brown Embossed Leather Flat Size 37.5 Size 7.5Womens Manolo Blahnik Multi-colored/designed Material Slide Pumps Size 38Manolo Blahnik Toast Suede Heels Size 51/2Brand New Manolo Blahnik Bb Black Suede Pumps (sz 38.5, Us8.5)Manolo Blahnik Black Patent Leather Kitten Heel Pumps Size 39.5 9.5Women's Manolo Blahnik Animal Print 4 Inch Stilettogold Heel Mule Sz. 7bManolo Blahnik Womens Green Leather Sandals/thongsManolo Blahnik Shoes White Leather Strappy Heels Sandals Size 35 1/2Manolo Blahnik Classic D'orsay Pumps Brown Suede Bow Kitten Heels Sz 41 TlcManolo Blahnik Gold Pointed Toe Slides Pumps Sz 38 8 Bn488$850 Nib Manolo Blahnik For Opening Ceremony Leather Floral D'orsay Flats 38Manolo Blahnik Blue Satin Open Toe D'orsay Pumps Size 38.5 8.5Manolo Blahnik Gold Metallic Leather Thong Sandals Slip-ons Sz 36/5.5-6