World-famous Spanish shoe designer celebrates 50th anniversary

by Deborah Cater
Blahnik shoes

MADRID – Renowned Spanish shoe designer Manolo Blahnik is celebrating five decades of his eponymous legendary shoe brand. He is making his archives public and sharing his prolific legacy in his virtual museum ‘A New Way of Walking’.

He is also launching a ‘golden’ capsule collection. A few years ago, Manolo Blahnik confessed to Vanity Fair journalist John Heilpern he had never been very interested in fashion. He always had a fascination for art, for creativity, for crafts. And although nothing in his early years connected him with the world of fashion and design, he still has strong memories of his mother who always made her own espadrilles. At home he keeps – like a real treasure – a few of her creations.

How it started

Manolo Blahnik

As a young man he settled in Geneva to study international law. However, his life path took him to Paris where he studied art and set design. He came in contact with Diana Vreeland, the legendary editor of ‘Vogue USA’ . Fascinated by the young student’s designs for a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she encouraged him in shoe design. That led him to London where he created his first pair of shoes for British designer Ossie Clark. Later, he opened his legendary shop on London’s Old Church Street. The rest is history.

Also read: Manolo Blahnik’s legendary designer shoes

Museum shoes

His shoes are literally museum pieces, and he is now celebrating 50 years of creation by opening his personal archives in his two adjacent Victorian homes in Bath. They house his impressive shoe collection, nearly 30,000 pairs of ‘Manolo’s’ prototypes and the sketches of their designs.

Plant shapes as inspiration

Each pair, of the thousands he has designed, is unique. All of his shoes are a reflection of his life and passions. Plant shapes inspire many of his shoes, a lasting tribute to the exuberant landscape of his homeland, the Canary Island of La Palma. In others, he has turned his passion for literature (‘Madame Bovary’, ‘El Gatopardo’) and architecture.

The interactive exhibition is run through five virtual rooms that are part of ‘The Manolo Blahnik Archive. These are ‘A New Way of Waking’; ‘The Palette’, ‘The 70’s’, ‘Friends’, ‘The Gold Room’ and ‘Our Family’. His sketches are in thematic collections through curator Judith Clark’s storyline.

Gold

He’s also curated Gold, a brilliant capsule collection of 19 pairs of gold-tone shoes, including mules, pumps, boots, flats and his signature high-heeled shoes, in limited-edition packaging.

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