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’s finally complying to the ever increasing enthusiasm for his men’s designs. Manolo Blahnik may have been on top of the (women) shoe game for more than 40 years; it’s a little known fact that the ‘Manolo’ has been around since the 70’s. Throughout the years, he’s been crafting his own shoes to match the signature pastel hued suits and designing for close friends but his brand has never been 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 and his popularity seems undying. In fact, we found ourselves so enamoured with a pair of soiled ivory Hangisi pumps, we decided to monitor their restoration journey and dedicate a whole case study to their revival!
Born during the 50’s on the Canary Islands, Manolo enjoyed a privileged upbringing on the banana plantations of Santa Cruz, where he initially made shoes for the local lizards out of Cadbury’s chocolate bon bons at a very young age; 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 for 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 and opened his first boutique the following year on Old Church Street in London. His designs were adored and worn by the likes of Princess Diana and Bianca Jagger, who even rode a white horse into Studio 54 while wearing a pair of Manolo’s. But what’s really impressive in this day and age is that Manolo still designs every single shoe and even 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- dare we say one of the best shopping scenes in movie history!
And now you can fulfil your Manolo Blahnik desires all at once in the Burlington Arcade where men’s and women’s shoes, bags as well as limited editions will be available for sale. The men’s line will be hand- stitched, carry signature lining and one can also expect an abundance of colour and a variety of choice. And soon you’ll probably 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. Finally, it seems men will 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 atelier. 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. Book your collection with The Restory 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.