Atelier Icon Series - #7 Manolo Blahnik

It's time to look at shoes and, for this, we need to honour a designer as opposed to a design.  There are countless popular shoe designers and brands out there, and there is one shoe brand that has definitely achieved icon status.  We are, of course, talking about Manolo Blahnik. 

Style inspirations, including royals, celebrities, bloggers, models all favour this brand regularly (and on repeat). The Manolo Blahnik wearer doesn’t fit in one style type, demographic, or box.  From classic pumps that are fit for a princess to out there PVC sandals, it’s the umbrella of styles that make it the It girl’s choice time and again.

The iconic shoe designer is world-renowned for beautiful stiletto heels that combine timeless elegance with playful fantasy; think dainty mules covered in dazzling embellishments, ladylike slingbacks realised in bold animal print, and refined point-toe pumps in emerald or ruby satin, adorned with the signature Blahnik crystal buckle. 

But the beauty of a Manolo Blahnik shoe doesn’t only lie in looks; here’s a designer who focuses on both style and substance.  Lets delve deeper…

A shoe designer literally by chance, Manolo Blahnik was studying art and set design in Paris when he was introduced to the future American Vogue Editor-in-Chief Diana Vreeland who was then the director of the Met Costume Institute. 

Entranced by his sketches for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, in particular his drawing for Hippolyta’s True Fashionista high-heeled sandal decorated with ivy and cherries, she told him, “Young man, stick to the extremities and make shoes!”

Blahnik took her advice and started visiting the best Italian shoe factories, interrogating the artisans about their craft. By 1971 he developed his first shoe for a runway show by then-prominent British fashion designer Ossie Clark.

It was so well received that soon after he opened his first boutique in Chelsea. Manolo was famous in those early days for never leaving his shop. Instead, celebrities and socialites like Bianca Jagger, Anna Wintour and David Hockney found themselves drawn to the atmosphere of creativity happening within.

When platforms became all the rage in the 70’s, Blahnik refused to comply, stating that he found them boorish and clunky, designing sleek stiletto heels and encouraging his female customers to adopt this more feminine look.

The Hangisi, pictured above, was made famous by being the wedding shoe of choice for Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding to Big.  We adore the rainbow of jewel tones that are available, with many people collecting nthem.

Whether investing in a classic BB pump or something more extravagant, adding a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes to your shoe closet is something you will never regret. 

Let us know what you think - is this a shoe for you?