Manolo Blahnik is a name that has become synonymous with mainstream high fashion footwear since the late nineties. In 30 years, the Manolo brand has surpassed all ideas applicable to luxury footwear and continues to establish itself as a stylish art form, revered by all fashionistas, trend setters, and worldly critics. The aura has been exacerbated by such popular culture acts ranging from Sex and the City to Jay-Z. And now, he has created some of the most exquisite shoes that the fashion world has ever seen.
Mr. Blahnik’s origins, however, are far from the world’s fashion centers of New York, Paris, and Milan. This gentleman is of mixed descent, born in 1942 to a Czech father and Spanish mother on a Canary Island banana plantation. The family frequently traveled to Madrid and Paris in order to purchase clothing. Young Manolo remained captivated by his mother’s fashion magazines and learned the craft of shoe making by observing the woman construct her own footwear from ribbon and lace.
Originally, Manolo’s parents envisioned a career as a diplomat for the youngster and he acquiesced, enrolling at The University of Geneva to study politics and law. However, Blahnik quickly rejected the coursework in favor of literature and architecture after one semester. He then relocated to Paris to study stage design at The Louvre Art School. Manolo moved to London in 1970, following his father’s advice that he improve his English. He was employed as a photographer for The Sunday Times and thereafter became a staple of the jet setting art design community.
Manolo Blahnik attributes his status as a leading authority of style to serendipity. In 1971, Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue stumbled onto his portfolio of drawings and set designs while Blahnik was on assignment in New York City. Vreeland encouraged Manolo Blahnik to dedicate his life to making shoes, rather than garments.