His name has its roots in the childhood of Blahnik’s, when he made his first pairs of shoes with ribbons and wrappers for a lizard. Often other clients were his pet dog or even a fox. Blahnik’s greatest inspiration was his mother. She subscribed fashion magazines and followed trends but was always dissatisfied with the shoes from their hometown, so she made her own and as a boy, Blahnik loved to watch the process. He learned the skills of shoe making by visiting shoe factories and talking to pattern cutters, technicians and machine operators. He works whole-heartedly on not only the designs but also carves the shoe himself and for mass-production, he supervises every step to ensure each shoe is perfect.
Manolo Blahnik, born in 1942 and raised in the Canary Islands, Spain, gained a degree in Literature and Architecture from the University of Geneva and has also studied Art and Stage Design in Paris while working at a vintage shop.
Later he moved to London to work as a buyer at fashion boutique “Zapata” and wrote for L’Uomo Vogue, an Italian men’s version of Vogue.
“Young man, make things, make accessories, make shoes,” said Diana Vreeland, the editor-in-chief of U.S Vogue in 1970, as she admired his shoe sketches and suggested to concentrate on designing footwear to become the King of Heels.
He showcased his first collection on runway in 1972, and collaborated with many other British fashion designers as well. He was the first man to be featured on the cover of U.K. Vogue in 1974.
A friend and a fashion journalist Michael Roberts, decides to make a film on the designer titled Manolo (The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards) and will debut in Berlin at the European Film Market next month.
The film will include the cameos by his many clients, including Anna Wintour, Paloma Picasso, Rihanna, Naomi Campbell, Penelope Tree, and Rupert Everett etc. Blahnik suggests watching the documentary only to be inspired from another human being who is doing what he adores.
He is a symbol of pure classic style for the 21st century and like any great couturier, Manolo Blahnik’s shoe styles are kept to small exclusive production numbers and his signature style is easily recognizable. Also this year, he plans to set an exhibition of more than 500 pieces of his work that will travel to Venice, Prague, and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
After 25,000 perfect pairs of shoes arranged in his Georgian Terrace house, he says his love affair with women’s shoes is never ending.
And we don’t want it to end either! Do you wish to get mesmerised in the shoe world of Manolo?
Text: Pinanki Shah
Photographs: The Telegraph, Vogue