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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Manolo Blahnik: dos sapatos de Sexo e a Cidade às malasPúblico.pt, July 31st
Manolo Blahnik, responsável pelo calçado da famosa Carrie Bradshaw (interpretada por Sarah Jessica Parker) em O Sexo e a Cidade (1998-2004), anunciou a primeira incursão no mundo das clutches, numa extensão de alguns dos estilos icónicos dos ...Read more
Stella McCartney for the Olympics, Manolo Blahnik to Make Bags, and More News ...Observer, July 31st
Going for the gold, again: Stella McCartney will be outfitting Great Britain's olympic team for the 2017 games in Rio de Janeiro. This is the second time she's been tapped to design the award-winning kits. via Fashionista. Bag man: Manolo Blahnik is...Read more
Manolo Blahnik to Be Honored by Couture Council of The Museum at FITWWD, July 29th
MANOLO'S TURN: Fittingly, Manolo Blahnik, a man who helps to keep many showgoers on their feet, will be honored the day before New York Fashion Week begins with the 2015 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion. The Couture Council of The ...Read more
Manolo Blahnik lança primeira coleção de clutchesMove Notícias, July 29th
A Manolo Blahnik acaba de anunciar o lançamento da sua primeira coleção-cápsula de clutches. São seis modelos feitos em cetim e crepe da China, decorados com cristais Swarovski, e com valores que variam de 1,725 dólares (cerca de 1,565 euros) e ...Read more
Gucci Opens Its First Restaurant, and More of Today's NewsStyle.com, July 27th
If you love your BB pumps and Hangisi flats, we have some good news: Manolo Blahnik is launching a handbag collection. Inspired by his signature shoe silhouettes, the line of clutches comes in vibrant colors with jewel embellishments. So is this the...Read more
Manolo Blahnik Turned the Olsen Twins' Favorite Shoe into a BagVogue.com, July 27th
Already a pop culture heavyweight in its own right, this shoe landed a starring role as glass-slipper-cum-engagement-ring in the Sex and the City movie, sealing the deal after a long-standing affair between Carrie Bradshaw and Manolo Blahnik (sure, she ...Read more
Invest in Design: Manolo Blahnik and MeHuffington Post, July 14th
Because when it's done right, it's priceless. But I believe that in one area, perhaps more than any other, superior service and talent is always worth the extra investment. I'm talking about Design. After paying my son's college tuition for four years...Read more
Sex And The City 3 is simply a Manolo Blahnik step too farHerald, July 10th
I really can't believe the 'are they'/'aren't they' palaver is still going on about the prospect of a third Sex And The City movie. 11 July 2015 03:00 AM. Ads by Google. Can the producers not get it in their heads that, at this stage, we really don't...Read more