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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Kendall Jenner stuns in new Calvin Klein adsNew York Post, March 27th
-Manolo Blahnik is hoping to get a monopoly on all things foot-related — and is now teaming up with German knitwear manufacturer Falke to design their own line of socks. [WWD]. -Banana Republic unveiled its new flagship store on Fifth Avenue Thursday ...Read more
Nordstrom Inaugurates First Full-Line Store in Puerto RicoZacks.com, March 27th
The popular shoes and handbags brands available at the store include Valentino, Manolo Blahnik, Tory Burch, Vince Camuto and Michael Kors, among others. The women apparel brands available at the store are Missoni, Versace Collection, Herve Leger, ...Read more
Manolo Blahnik, Falke Team UpWWD, March 27th
“We're a family owned company, too, and just happy to work with Manolo Blahnik,” said Falke, international PR director of the German knitwear manufacturer. Hot pink carnations were arranged to resemble the pompoms that dangle from the socks, while the ...Read more
See Sophie Hunter (aka Mrs Benedict Cumberbatch) in her Valentino bridal gownVogue Australia, March 26th
Hunter also wore a velvet cape (remember it was winter in England) and custom-made Manolo Blahnik shoes. Her 'something blue' was her sapphire 18th century-inspired Tiffany & Co. engagement ring. Hunter's five bridesmaid dresses were also designed ...Read more
Manolo Blahnik & Falke Release Sock CollaborationFootwear News, March 26th
Consummate sock lover Manolo Blahnik has turned his legwear passion into reality for men and women. The U.K.-based designer partnered with German company Falke on a small selection of unisex socks, which went on sale today at Becauselondon.com...Read more
A Costly but Valuable Lesson in Debt and Self-ConfidenceNew York Times, March 25th
Women my age who wore Manolo Blahnik shoes. Carried designer handbags. Were whisked past lines into clubs I fantasized about. Feeling desperately uncool, I moved into a pint-size studio apartment in the East Village (again, too much money) from an ...Read more
Manolo Blahnik debutta nella calzetteria con FalkeMF Fashion, March 20th
Manolo Blahnik ha lanciato la propria linea di calze in collaborazione con il gruppo tedesco Falke. La collezione, in edizione limitata, comprende tre modelli unisex in diversi colori e texture. I calzini Manolo Blahnik saranno in vendita dal 26 marzo...Read more
J. Mendel's Sample Sale: 75% Discounts, Manolo Blahniks, Loads of FurRacked NY, March 11th
Steep cuts can be found on Manolo Blahnik shoes, some of which were designed exclusively for J. Mendel. Some are gently worn while others appear brand new. We found a couple high heel sandals (with sole defects) starting at $50, and prices go up to ...Read more