Manolos Shoes: Manolo Blahnik Put The Sex In The City
You may have heard of Manolo's, simply Manolo's, like most American women, from the hit show, "Sex & The City," where they were spoken of with such reverence that it was almost Biblical. In fact, when Big proposed to Carrie, he slipped a gorgeous cobalt blue Manolo on her foot instead of a big gorgeous rock on her finger. But what are Manolo's, where did they come from? Or a better question is, who are Manolo's?
Manolo's as they have become known by those who can afford them and those who can only dream about them, are shoes designed by the Italian craftsman Manolo Blahnik. Shoemaker is hardly a word to describe Manolo and what he does with a piece of leather, satin, snakeskin, suede...the list goes on and on.
Who Is Manolo Blahnik?
Manolo Blahnik was born on November 27, 1942 in Santa Cruz de La Palma in the Canary Islands. Perhaps it was the beauty of the Islands, perhaps it was his creative Spanish mother who designed and created her own evening shoes, who knows, but Blahnik because interested in shoe design at an early age. Blahnik ended up at the University of Geneva in Switzerland and then moved to Paris where he studied art at L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts and L'Ecole du Louvre. He then made a fateful move to London, securing a position at a store called "Zapata", which means "shoe" in Spanish, although he also wrote for Italian Vogue on the side. Encouraged by Diana Vreeland, the American editor of Vogue who saw his portfolio of designs, he turned his attention to designing only shoes.
Manolos Rise In Popularity
His work quickly became known in the area and the likes of Bianca Jagger and countless other jet setters, movie stars, royalty, and socialites became steady clients. Manolo borrowed 2000 pounds and bought out Zapata, so he could start his own store. He had no formal training in making shoes like Jimmy Choo or any of the other famous shoe designer of today, yet the clients came in droves. Part of the reason was that Blahnik painstakingly labored over every shoe design, making sure not only that it was beautiful, but also comfortable. He has been credited for bringing back the stiletto heel during the 70's in an era when women were wearing huge platforms and bulky clogs. The flamboyant sixties era Britsh fashion designer Ossie Clark asked Blahnik to create what would be his first collection for a runway show which would be the first of many runway shows for Blahnik. In 1974, he was asked to pose for the cover of British Vogue Magazine and was the first man ever to do so.
Blahnik uses extremes in his shoe design...extremes in color, extremes in heel height, extremes in design. Heel heights can average five inches, colors can range from shocking pink to zebra to bright blue and anything in between, including neon. Strappiness and cut-outs are the norm for Manolos, as well as amazing textures, including ribbons and lace, and outrageous patterns. In an odd act of defiance, Princess Diana wore a pair of very high heel Manolos to the Serpentine Gallery the very night Prince Charles went on television to publicly admit his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. The humor in this was that Blahnik often referred to his shoes as "marriage savers." The 2006 film, "Marie Antoinette," which won an Academy Award for Best Costume, featured hundreds of pairs of shoes designed by Blahnik at the request of writer and director, Sophia Coppola. Blahnik is involved in the entire process of his collections, every design, every heel mold, the artwork for his advertising campaigns...all done by the designer himself.
Are these pieces of wearable art worth the price...? You decide.