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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Recent News: Manolo Blahnik Shoes

Source: Google News

Once Upon A Time...
HarpersBAZAAR.com (blog), February 26th

Carolina Herrera gown, $10,990, 212-249-6552; Nancy Gonzalez clutch, $950, similar styles available at saksfifthavenue.com; Manolo Blahnik for Carolina Herrera pumps, price upon request, 212-582-3007. My mother left us when I was three, and it was ...Read more

How the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange nurtures old varieties, new gardeners
Washington Post, February 25th

I feel like Imelda Marcos in a Manolo Blahnik showroom. Each variety comes with a tale. Wallace is pleased at the success of collard greens, that most Southern of brassicas, and in particular a variety named Alabama Blue. It has similarities with Red...Read more

Taylor Swift voted Elle's Woman of the Year
Telegraph.co.uk, February 25th

Luke Evans, one of the stars of The Hobbit, was named actor of the year and shoe designer Manolo Blahnik was given the lifetime achievement award. Taylor Swift at the Elle Style Awards 2015, where she was voted Woman of the Year (Getty). The event ...Read more

The 14 Best Looks from the 'ELLE' Style Awards
Bustle, February 24th

It might not get the same amount of attention as The Oscars, but there was no shortage of glamour and star power at the annual ELLE Style Awards 2015. Winners Christopher Bailey, Manolo Blahnik, and Cara Delevingne hobnobbed on the red carpet with ...Read more

Keira Knightley Steps Out in Manolo, Talks Movies & Margaritas
Footwear News, February 18th

Keira Knightley continues to have one of the boldest and most fashionable pregnancies we can remember. The actress stepped out on Sunday in a pair of velvet pink Manolo Blahnik pumps for Alexander Lewis, which paired nicely with her custom red dress, ...Read more

Oscar Fever: Winning Picks from Manolo Blahnik, Stuart Weitzman + More
Footwear News, February 17th

It's an Academy Awards race to the finish. The 87th annual ceremony will showcase the best in film, and hopefully in footwear too. Here, the industry casts their votes. Manolo Blahnik Best Picture: “'Boyhood' because it is real story and its...Read more

Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin and others create Cinderella's glass slipper ...
Metro, February 13th

Cinderella's glass slippers are the shoes every little girl dreams of, and now you can buy them, for real. 11 of the world's hottest footwear designers including Manolo Blahnik, Nicholas Kirkwood, Rene Caovilla and Stuart Weitzman have taken on the...Read more

Cover Story: Manolo Blahnik, An Artist's Eye
Footwear News, February 2nd

Last month, on the same day Manolo Blahnik celebrated John Galliano's much-anticipated return to fashion at the Maison Margiela couture show, the footwear veteran marked a new beginning as well. After 42 years in business, Blahnik debuted his first...Read more