Have you heard of Manolo Blahnik? For those of you that don’t know his is one of the best known and well loved high fashion shoe designers. Because of his unique style, his shoes have become extremely popular among women from all walks of life.
Manolo Blahnik believes that every one of his styles must have his unique stamp to them, so of the thousands of shoes that come out under his name, he adds his own personal touch. His shoes have become known for their unique, personal style since they were first launched on the market.
He is solely responsible for every one of his unique designs. He works alone with absolutely no help from an apprentice or an assistant. He sketches out every model then he fabricates his own prototype, using wooden lasts and sculpted heels on which the shoe is formed. Then he supervises all of the production, and even does the sketching for his advertising campaigns.
The Manolo Blahnik Story
Manolo Blahnik was born on the Canary Islands in 1942 and was brought up on a banana plantation. He happened to be home school because there were no nearby neighbors or towns, although the family traveled to Paris and Madrid several times a year, and at that time his parents would buy clothes from Cristobal Balenciaga, and the special tailor his father used. But there were times when the family could not get to the city, and at such times his mother would improvise. She even asked a local cobbler to teach her how to make espadrilles using ribbons and laces. He would sit a watch with fascination as she would make them. He also loved to peruse the fashion magazines she would receive, which always came a month late.
His parents wanted him to become a diplomat and enrolled him in University in Geneva and at first he began his Law studies with enthusiasm, but after a couple of months he decided to change and took subjects in literature and architecture. In 1965 he left for Paris and decided to study art. He held several part time jobs in order to make ends meet. After graduating he went to New York. At first he didn’t have much luck. His friend Paloma Picasso sent him to see Diana Vreeland of Vogue, and she thought his drawings were amusing, but suggested he pursue his career creating shoes.
Soon Manolo Blahniks shoes were sought after by celebrities like Marisa Berenson, and Charlotte Rampling. Even Lauren Bacall started looking for his unique designs. As his shoes became more and more popular he started teaming with a shoe manufacturer in London that was known for its ability to make shoes well. Today Blahniks style is known as avant guard, and yet solidly stylish so that the styles will be wearable for a long time.
Early in his career he took the time to really master the art of shoe making. He found the best factories to work with and learned how to create and carve his own designs. He began to work with designers who focused on the younger generation, like Calvin Klein, and this helped him give his designs that modern edge, yet keep their classic elegance.
Today he still focuses on designing every shoe he puts out on the market. He sketches the shoe with the use of a Japanese brush pen and then carves the prototype out of beech wood. He says that what makes his designs truly unique is that he really understands the shoe process, and has been making shoes for more than 20 years, so he has honed his craft and with reason is called one of the best.