Manolo Blahnik, a craftsman of beautiful, fine and delicate shoes, is often referred to as the -holy man of heels’ and is now regarded as one of the most prominent in women’s shoes. But, how did this shoe genius become such an icon? As a young boy Manolo Blahnik was surrounded by a family with a true appreciation for shoes. Following in his mothers footsteps, who, in fact, designed and made her own evening shoes, Blahnik revealed a talent for shoe design from a young age.
After studying literature and architecture at the University of Geneva in 1965, Blahnik moved to Paris to develop his knowledge and skills in art and design at L’cole des Beaux-Arts and L’cole du Louvre.
In 1968 Blahnik moved to London to work in a fashion boutique, write for Vogue Italia and, as a result, introduce himself to a number of people in the fashion industry. Manolo Blahnik’s Career truly began in 1971 following a visit to New York with a portfolio of drawings and set designs. Diane Vreeland, the editor of US vogue spotted a sketch of a fantastic shoeintertwined with ivy and cherries which crept up the ankle. One year later Blahnik was designing and making shoes for Zapata, a boutique on Old Church Street, London. Soon after, fashion designer Ossie Clark invited him to create his first collection of shoes for a runway show.
In 1973 Blahnik bought Zapata and began to be described by Women’s Wear Daily as “one of the most exotic spirits in London”.
In 1974 Blahnik became the first man to appear on the cover of British Vogue which heightened his position in the worldwide fashion industry. He launched a collection for Bloomingdales, the US retail chain and opened his first US shop on Madison Avenue, New York. Over the years, Blahnik’s shoes have graced the catwalks of the world’s leading designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, John Galliano,Isaac Mizrahi and Michael Kors.
Blahnik’s shoes, universally known as -Manolo’s’ have been worn by a number of famous clientele including Diana, Princess of Wales, Bianca Jagger, Kylie Minogue and many, many more. Madonna once described Blahnik’s shoes as “better than sex” then added “what’s more, they last longer”.
Manolo Blahnik’s shoes have been well promoted on a number of hit television shows; consequentially -Manolo’s’ have become a household name in the US. Marge Simpson wore a pair of Manolo’s in a 1991 episode of the Simpsons. Later, his name became even better known when his designs regularly featured, if not stared, in the hit television series -Sex and the City’. This detailed designer is responsible for a number of components of the creation of his ideas, from initial sketches to creating his own advertising campaigns which always feature his drawings.
In both 1991 and 1999 Blahnik was named Accessory Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Council and has received a number of awards over the years. He was given an Honorary Doctorate at the Royal College of Arts, London, awarded La Aguja de Oro (The Golden Needle) in Spain and made an Honorary Royal Designer for Industry in London. As well as Blahnik’s shoe displays in boutique stores, he has exhibited his drawings, memorabilia and collections at the Design Museum in London.
Manolo Blahnik, who has achieved so much, continues to successfully design beautiful, delicate and unique shoes for any stylish lady.