With a career spanning 40 years, Manolo Blahnik has become one of the world’s most influential footwear designers. His shoes have spellbound an international set of adoring and loyal devotees across the globe.
Born in the Canary Islands to a Spanish mother and a Czech father, Manolo Blahnik studied languages and art in Geneva before moving to Paris in 1965 where he decided to become a set designer. On a visit to New York in 1970, he showed his theatre designs to Diana Vreeland, then editor-in-chief of American Vogue, who honed in on his shoes and encouraged him to concentrate on them.
Blahnik learnt the art of making shoes by visiting factories where he talked to machine operators, pattern cutters and technicians. By 1971, he was in London making shoes. A year later, Ossie Clark, then the most famous designer in London, used his shoes and from there his career blossomed. In 1973 he opened his first shop in London’s Chelsea.
Blahnik is a craftsman. The exquisitely shaped lasts and heels he creates for his shoes are still perfected 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. “Shoes,” he says, “help transform a woman.”
From the flagship store in London, the brand has expanded worldwide.