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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Shoe-stoppers!The Asian Age, December 7th
“It's as much about hiding the foot as it is about revealing it,” believes the high priest of heels Manolo Blahnik. And this is what Delhi-based shoe designer Nayantara Sood swears by. Her label Taramay (a combination of her name and birth month) seeks...Read more
You're Invited! Manolo Blahnik Resort 2014 at Saks Fifth Avenue SarasotaSarasota, December 3rd
So, the Jimmy Choo cocktail party at Saks Fifth Avenue last month was entirely too much fun that we're having another in honor of Manolo…Blahnik, that is! He's the man and the shoe that became synonymous with Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City...Read more
Happy Birthday King Of Stilettos Manolo Blahnik: Here Are Your Best Moments!FashionTV.com, November 28th
Fashion lovers needs no introduction to shoe-obsessed TV character Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex and the City,” through which, Manolo Blahnik shoes become a cult association. During the six series' we witness Carrie's love affair with “Manolo's” from Mr Big...Read more
LA Bloggers Loving Topshop and Manolo Blahnik This WeekRacked, November 22nd
This week, check out blogger Tommy of MYBELONGING decked out in H&M x Isabel Marant gear, statement-making sweater and all. More standout looks this week include Sheryl of Walk in Wonderland who wore a cute flouncy flower-printed Cameo The ...Read more
The Manolo Sample Sale: Line, Prices, Shoes, and HoardersRacked NY, November 14th
Over at the Warwick Hotel, the line has formed for today's Manolo Blahnik sample sale, which is definitely not private. Our reporter on scene writes that she arrived at 7:15. They've started a line outside, and are having people enter their names on a...Read more
Manolo Blahnik Women's Wingtips Seen Curbing Shoe SlumpBloomberg, November 13th
Christian Louboutin, renowned for platform stilettos, created a $1,495 python pointed-toe Derby flat, with his signature red sole. A pair of “Lorenza” $765 wingtips in perforated brown leather comes from Manolo Blahnik, widely regarded as a master of...Read more
Manolo Says Its Sample Sale Is Private, Internet Says OtherwiseRacked NY, November 13th
The Manolo Blahnik sample sale officially began today for invited guests, and as usual, the public portion was set to begin tomorrow. However, Manolo Blahnik's press department insisted that the sample sale was private when we inquired about its...Read more
Updated: Manolo Says This Month's Sample Sale Is PrivateRacked NY, November 11th
Last week, news of the upcoming Manolo Blahnik sample sale hit the usual blogs, but there was some confusion about start time: Madison Avenue Spy wrote that the sale would start at 9am on Thursday, November 14th, but readers (some of whom received ...Read more