Manolo Blahnik: The Story Behind the Eponymous High-End Shoe Brand
Manolo Blahnik is such an iconic brand; all those who are Sex and the City fans would have dreamt of getting a pair of beautiful Manolo Blahnik’s as Carrie Bradshaw did.
With a career spanning 40 years, it’s really no surprise that the brand has gone from strength to strength. The brand that has designs that never fail to impress, Manolo Blahnik has become one of the world’s most influential footwear designers.
Starting off in set design in 1970, Blahnik showed his theatre designs to Diana Vreeland, then editor-in-chief of American Vogue, who saw a natural spark for shoe design so encouraged him to concentrate on that.
It’s clear Blahnik has had a hands-on approach from the beginning, he refined his skills by visiting factories where he talked to machine operators, pattern cutters and technicians. By the following year, 1971, he was in London making shoes and beginning his career. A year later, Ossie Clark, then the most famous designer in London, used his shoes. From there on in, his career blossomed.
In 1973 he opened his first shop in London’s Chelsea. This was just the beginning for Blahnik as now he has stores all over the world.
Every shoe is beautifully designed and made, Blahnik is even known to still perfect with his very own hands. The lines and silhouette of his distinctive designs, however, remain instantly recognisable as unique, inimitable exercises in precision and balance, exquisite workmanship and luxury.
London’s Design Museum opened a major exhibition of his work in 2003. Thames & Hudson published the Manolo Blahnik Drawing to coincide with this. This collection features ‘some of the best sketches Blahnik uses at the outset of the design process, and which are as coveted as the shoes themselves.’
Manolo Blahnik was awarded an Honorary Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2003. This was in recognition of his status ‘as one of the most successful and influential designers of our time.’
In the designers’ very own words, “Shoes, help transform a woman.”