A satirical self-portrait, 2000

“Please sir, you can take my Fendi baguette, you can take my ring and my watch, but don’t take my Manolo Blahniks.” – Carrie Bradshaw

Manolo Blahnik for Marie-Antoinette

Carrie Bradshaw wore them, Marie-Antoinette wore them: the wonderful shoes by the one-and-only Manolo Blahnik.

Born in the Canary Islands in 1942, Manolo Blahnik was brought up on the banana plantation owned by his Czech father and Spanish mother. The family often travelled to Paris and Madrid, where his parents ordered clothes from his mother’s favourite couturiers, like Cristobál Balenciaga. His mother, being an avid shoe lover, persuaded the local Canary Islands cobbler to teach her how to make Catalan espadrilles from ribbons and laces. Manolo loved to watch her making them. “I’m sure I acquired my interest in shoes genetically or at least through my fingers, when I was allowed to touch them as they were made,” he later claimed.

In 1965, he left Geneva for Paris to study art and made ends meet by working at GO, a vintage clothes store on rue de Bonaparte. Paloma Picasso, a friend from Paris, arranged for him to meet Diana Vreeland, the editor of US Vogue. When she looked at his drawings, Vreeland exclaimed: “How amusing. Amusing. You can do accessories very well. Why don’t you do that? Go make shoes. Your shoes in these drawings are so amusing.”

Fantasy Summer, 2000

Manolo began designing for Zapata, a boutique on Old Church Street in Chelsea. In 1972 Ossie Clark, the famed fashion designer, asked him to design the shoes for his next collection. The shoes looked extraordinary – one pair sported red cherries entwined around the ankles and a vertiginous heel. By then, his shoes at Zapata were sought after by Vogue editors, such as Grace Coddington, and hip young actresses like Jane Birkin and Charlotte Rampling. In 1974, he became the first man to appear on the cover of British Vogue – photographed in a passionate clutch with Angelica Huston by David Bailey.

on the cover of Vogue in 1974

By the 1980s, Blahnik had settled upon a successful formula for his collections: a combination of “occasional avant garde looks for the affluent few” and “good solid looks that will wear forever.” Manolo has also designed numerous collections for John Galliano’s Dior collections.

“I have the advantage of study. I’ve been studying the art of the shoe… for over twenty years. I know every process. I know how to cut and cut away here (the side of the shoe) and still make it so that it stays on the foot. And the secret of toe cleavage, a very important part of the sexuality of the shoe. You must only show the first two cracks. And the heel. Even if it’s twelve centimetres high it still has to feel secure – and that’s a question of balance. That’s why I carve each heel personally myself – on the machine and then by hand with a chisel and file, until it’s exactly right.” – Manolo in an interview with Colin McDowell

Green Crocodile, 1995

There are some that criticize Manolo Blahnik as being too conservative and not fashion forward. I say: that’s crazy! Sure, Manolo doesn’t follow trends because his shoes are timeless. Yes, both Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin (♥) have taken away some of the spotlight away from Manolo recently but he is still the shoe God as far as I’m concerned. I am a Manolo girl. Always been one (even before Carrie Bradshaw).

Let’s take a look are some wedding contenders…

Farinelli in silver

Farinelli in gold

(fit for a queen)

(Carrie Bradshaw’s favourites. She wore them in the ‘something blue’ colour)

Sedaraby in silver (also available in white satin)
Sedaraby in gold

Now I know the meaning of ‘true love’.

Further reading: