Who is Manolo Blahnik?
Manolo Blahnik born 27 November 1942, Santa Cruz de La Palma, Spain), is a Spanish fashion designer and founder of the self-named, high-end shoe brand. Blahnik was born and raised in Santa Cruz de la Palma, in the Canary Islands (Spain). His Czech father’s family owned a pharmaceutical firm in Prague, and his Spanish mother’s family owned a banana plantation in the island city of Santa Cruz de la Palma.
One of Blahnik's greatest inspirations was his mother. She studied fashion magazines and interpreted the latest fashion trend on her clothing. Blahnik and his family often travelled to Paris and Madrid ordering clothes. His mother was always dissatisfied of the shoes from their hometown, so she made her own. She learned the rudiments of her craft from a local Canary Island cobbler and as a boy, Blahnik loved to watch his mother when she made beautiful shoes. He has inherited his mother's love for brocade and satin fabrics and recounted how, as a boy, he found a trunk filled with shoes by the famous Russian Yanturni all made from silks, antique lace and brocades trimmed with delicate buckles. All were light, elegant and feminine; attributes Blahnik later brought to his own designs.
When Blahnik was attending university, he lived with his aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, his aunt deeply influenced his fashion sense. He refined his tastes and learned to appreciate the beauty of luxury, art, and happiness. Blahnik recalled that according to his aunt, "happiness was having the single most elegant handbag ever made, in every color available."
Blahnik has never studied in making shoes in school. He learned the skills of shoe making by visiting shoe factories and talking to pattern cutters, technicians and machine operators. At first, he was designing men’s footwear, but he immediately found that men’s shoes design limited his imagination and lacked the element of fashion. When the mainstream shoe styling was still dominated by clunky platforms in the 1970s, he revived the sleek stiletto heel, which has since become a classic. Also, he hates wedges and believes in the power of heels and the sex appeal they convey.
Blahnik has worked wholeheartedly on his shoes. He not only draws the design of a pair of shoes, but also hand-crafts the shoes himself. He carves the wood last, which he then hand sculpts the shoe onto. When the time comes for mass production, he oversees every step to ensure each shoe is an exact copy of his original creation. He always keeps every one of his designs: 25,000 shoes are arranged in date order in paneled cupboards that fill up two adjoining houses in a Georgian terrace in Bath. And now, he still keeps designing.
Like any great couturier, Manolo Blahnik’s shoe styles are kept to small exclusive production numbers and his style signature is easily recognizable.
The Classic Manolo Blahnik's Stiletto Heels: