If Manolo Blahnik is the Emperor of Shoes, he’s expanding his emporium. With the new opening of his first Men’s store on 34 Burlington Arcade –right next to the women’s, he has finally decided to give in to the ever increasing enthusiasm for his men’s designs. Manolo Blahnik may have been on top of the shoe game for more than 40 years; it’s a little known fact that the ‘Manolo’ (for men) has been around since the 70’s. Throughout the years, he’s crafted his own shoes to match his signature pastel hued suits and continued designing for close friends but his brand was never prominently associated with men’s shoes. That’s about to change.
Thanks to his impeccable designs and of course Carrie’s Manolo obsession in Sex and the City, Blahnik has acquired sacrosanct status among shoe crazy women around the world. In fact, we found ourselves so enamoured with a pair of soiled ivory Hangisi pumps, we decided to record their restoration journey and turn the revival into a case study!
Born on the Canary Islands during the 50’s, Manolo enjoyed a privileged upbringing on the banana plantations of Santa Cruz, where as a youngster he initially made shoes for the local lizards out of Cadbury’s chocolate bon bons; an early indication of his inventive brain and shoe mastery. After attending boarding school in Geneva and working as an antiquarian in Paris, he ended up in London during the 70’s and fell head over heels with it’s dynamic fashion scene. His fate was sealed when he met Diana Vreeland in New York who by glancing at his sketches, urged him to focus on shoes. And thus with Vreeland’s blessing, history was made.
Manolo presented his first shoe collection in 1971 followed by the first boutique opening the year after on Old Church Street in London. His designs were adored and worn by the likes of Princess Diana and Bianca Jagger who, at the height of her fame, rode a white horse into Studio 54 wearing a pair of Manolo’s. But what’s even more striking is the fact Manolo still designs every single shoe and then hand carves the samples all by himself, often working more than 12 hours a day. Forever chasing perfectionism, his creativity came into full bloom when he designed 23 pairs of macaroon coloured mules to match the lavish 17th century dresses in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette- a scrumptious movie for patisserie and fashion lovers alike.
Now you can fulfill your Manolo Blahnik desires all at once in the Burlington Arcade where men’s and women’s shoes, bags as well as limited editions are on display. The men’s line will be hand stitched and carry signature lining with an abundance of colour options. And soon you’ll be able to enjoy your shopping experience with a rare whisky in your hand as plans are in motion to add a bar to the men’s top floor. It seems men will finally also get to experience shoe shopping as an indulgence rather than a chore.
As seasoned shoe fanatics, we will always have a soft spot for Manolo Blahnik at The Restory. Special shoes deserve special care, and our artisans are able to provide you with the best advise and repairwork to revive a satin heel with a new colour or a men’s brogue with some military shine. Make your booking here.
For our clients visiting or living in North America, we highly recommend The Art of Shoes exhibition on Manolo Blahnik at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. It is a retrospective covering the 45 years he spent dedicating to shoe design, with more than 200 shoes on display! Open until January 2019.