Manolo Blahnik

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This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Blahnik and the second or maternal family name is Rodríguez.
Manolo Blahnik
Born Manuel Blahnik Rodríguez
(1942-11-27) 27 November 1942 (age 71)
Santa Cruz de La Palma, Spain
Residence Bath, England
Nationality Spanish
Occupation Fashion designer
Labels Manolo Blahnik

Manuel "Manolo" Blahnik Rodríguez CBE (/məˈnl ˈblɑːnɪk/;[1] 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.

Biography[edit]

Display of a Manolo Blahnik shoe

Blahnik was born and raised in the Canary Islands. 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. He was born and raised in Santa Crus de la Palma in the Canary Island (Spain). He was homeschooled when he was a child. After he grew up, he attended a Swiss boarding school. Later, his parents wanted him to be a diplomat, and enrolled him at the University of Geneva majoring in Politics and Law. However, Blahnik changed his majors to Literature and Architecture. In 1965, he got his degree and moved to Paris for studying Art at the École des Beaux-Arts and Stage Set Design at the Louvre Art School, while working at a vintage clothing shop.[2] In 1968, he moved to London to work as a buyer at fashion boutique "Zapata" and wrote for L’Uomo Vogue, a Italian men’s version of Vogue.

In 1970, Blahnik had a chance to meet Diana Vreeland, the editor-in-chief of U.S Vogue, while he was travelling in New York. He then presented his portfolio of fashions and set designs to Vreeland, at which point she looked him straight in the eye and said, “Young man, do things, do accessories, do shoes.” She admired his shoe sketches and advised him to concentrate on designing footwear. Blahnik followed her advice and worked on designing shoes.[3]

In 1972, Ossie Clark invited him to create shoes for his runway show. Also, He designed shoes for other London fashion designers, such as Jean Muir and Zandra Rhodes. With a loan of £2,000, Blahnik bought Zapata from its owner and opened his own boutique. In 1974, Blahnik was featured on the cover of U.L. Vogue, and he is the first man to be featured on that cover page. In 1977, he sold his shoes in America, through Bloomingdales, and opened his boutique in the U.S. Since then, he has become a very famous shoes designer, and a symbol of pure classic style for the 21st century.[3]

Manolo Blahnik's flagship store remains to date in Old Church Street in the fashionable Chelsea district of London.

Blahnik's boutiques are located in London, New York, Las Vegas, Dublin, Athens, Madrid, Istanbul, Dubai, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Stockholm. Bloomingdales (for which he created his first American collection), Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue carry his line in the United States and newly opened in Dubai Mall. The company has signed a long-term deal with the shoewear retailer Kurt Geiger to operate Manolo Blahnik boutiques.[4][5]

Blahnik was elevated to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2007 Blahnik was appointed as an honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order British Empire for his service to the British fashion industry.

Blahnik currently resides in Bath, United Kingdom and was awarded an honorary degree from Bath Spa University in July 2012.

Manolo Blahniks worn by actress Whitney Port

The Early Development of His Fashion Sense[edit]

One of his greatest inspirations was his mother.[6] 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 his hometown. So his mother decided to make the shoes by her own hands. She learned the rudiments of his 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.[7]

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.” [8]

His Shoes[edit]

Blahnik has never studied in making shoes in school.[6] 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 relatively limiting his imagination and lacking the element of fashion. Beside, when the mainstream shoe styling was still dominated by clumpy 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 is not only drawing the design of a pair of shoes, but also hand-crafted the shoes by himself. He would carve the wooden masts which he then hand sculpts the first 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 panelled cupboards that fill up two adjoining houses in a Georgian terrace in Bath. And now, he still keeps designing.[9]

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:

  • BB Pump
  • Hangisi Pump
  • Swan Pump
  • Campari Pump
  • Chaos Sandal

Awards & Honors[edit]

Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)[10]

  • 1987: Special Award
  • 1990: Accessory Designer of the Year
  • 1997: The Stiletto

British Fashion Council[11]

  • 1999: Accessory Designer of the Year
  • 1990: Accessory Designer of the Year

Honors[12]

  • 1998: Shoe Designer of the Year from Footwear News
  • 2003: Shoe Designer of the Year from Footwear News
  • 2007 Honorary CBE from Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
  • 2011 The SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) Andre Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 2011 A Lifetime Achievement Award from Footwear News.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In part one of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn film, Bella Swan wears Manolo Blahnik's "Swan" pump for her wedding.
  • The staff of the TV show Angel asked Manolo Blahnik for permission to use their company name on screen. The company then provided footwear for the episode and insisted that characters wear the products even if the shoes were not shown on camera.
  • In the popular long-running TV show Sex and the City Blahniks are a particular favorite of the character Carrie Bradshaw and as a result are mentioned frequently. A notable episode illustrating the brand's prestige is "What Goes Around Comes Around" from Season 3 in which Carrie is mugged. During her assault the assailant demands she surrender her shoes, demanding them by the brand's name.
  • They are referenced multiple times in Duck Dodgers whenever any sort of footwear defect occurs, typically with the grumbled phrase "Cheap counterfeit Manolo Blahniks".
  • At the end of the fourth verse of the RuPaul dance music song "Click Clack (Make Dat Money)", from his album Glamazon, the drag queen "Supermodel of the World" sings "My Manolo Blahniks gonna party tonight".
  • During the description of the third girl in "Weird Al" Yankovic's original song "Close, But No Cigar" he references the brand by noting: "She wore a ribbon on her left Manolo".
  • On September 28, 2013, Saturday Night Live Season 39, Episode 1, included a sketch [13] featuring Tina Fey that poked fun at the company.
  • In the third part of the E. L. James trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, a mirrored pair of Manolos are the accent to a clubbing night in Aspen, Colorado.
  • Manolos are mentioned many times in Gossip Girl. Georgina Sparks mentions in the beginning of Season 3 that she owns a pair and that Blair can borrow them.
  • American singer Jay-Z mentioned Manolo in his song Bonnie And Clyde ft. Beyonce.
  • German rapper Cro mentioned Manolo Blahnik along with Gucci and Lacoste in his song Einmal um die Welt.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Spanish pronunciation: [manˈwel maˈnolo roˈðɾiɣeð ˈβlanik], Czech: [ˈblaɦɲiːk]
  2. ^ Manolo Blahnik Design Museum Retrieved 7 August 2008
  3. ^ a b Morton, Camilla (2011). Manolo Blahnik and the Tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker, p. 101. Harper Entertainment. ISBN 0061917303.
  4. ^ Ruth Faulkner (14 May 2012). "Kurt Geiger signs long-term deal with Manolo Blahnik". Drapers Online. 
  5. ^ Caroline Ferry (14 May 2012). "Manolo Blahnik Collaborates With Kurt Geiger!". Grazia Daily. 
  6. ^ a b CNN.(March 17, 2012). CNN. Talk Asia: Interview with Manolo Blahnik Retrieved from http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1203/17/ta.01.html
  7. ^ Stylesequel. Manolo Blahnik Biography Retrieved from http://www.stylesequel.com/designers/manolo-blahnik/biography
  8. ^ Morton, Camilla (2011). Manolo Blahnik and the Tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker, p. 23. Harper Entertainment. ISBN 0061917303.
  9. ^ Slater, Lydia.(September 12, 2010). Daily Mail UK. 'A mistake made my career': The rise and rise of Manolo Blahnik Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1309832/Manolo-Blahnik-The-legendary-designer-recalls-lifelong-love-affair-womens-shoes.html
  10. ^ CFDA Past Winners Past Winners Retrieved 31 January 2011
  11. ^ Manolo Blahnik Biography Retrieved 31 January 2011
  12. ^ Morton, Camilla (2011). Manolo Blahnik and the Tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker, p. 103-104. Harper Entertainment. ISBN 0061917303.
  13. ^ http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/manolo-blahnik/n41333/

External links[edit]