Well, well. Manolo Blahnik. The whole world knows him, thanks to Carrie Bradshaw. I debated whether to write about him. He’s definitely Spanish born and raised, but he lives and works in Bath, England. His flagship store is in London. His factories are in Italy. As far this blog is concerned, the question is: is there anything inherently Spanish in the way he creates his shoe magic? What makes him iconic, besides talent, luck and having launched his career “at the right place at the right time”? But then a post by the bilingual Spanish-English blog Fashion and Travel Tips for Divas (I was once called a diva by a hair dresser, so it’s a good fit for me:) motivated me to do this post about Manolo Blahnik:
Manolo Blahnik flagship store on Old Church Street in Chelsea, London.
Photo source: www.designmuseum.org
I don’t own any Manolos, so I did some reading and asking around. Besides, I have my own eyes for judging.
What I realized, with the help of online effusions of Manolo devotees, is that the winning qualities of the shoes are pretty much the same that we write about in this blog. His designs are described as possessing a “simple sexiness”, in other words it is not so “out-of-control” Christian Louboutin type of sexy, for example. Simplicity is a key element of Spanish design.
Manolo Blahnik “Kili”
Another thing that caught my attention was the use of jewels. To make jeweled shoes look mesmerizing, without overdoing the bling, requires a very fine taste. In this blog we featured many examples of great jeweled shoes (see this post on Paloma Barceló and this one on Lola Cruz).
Manolo Blahnik “Swan”
According to some accounts, Blahnik himself once claimed that he had “the best taste in the world”. That’s quite a statement, but taste is as much the result of your environment as it is of your personality. Growing up in Santa Cruz de la Palma, on the Canary islands, where beauty is all around you, with a mother who taught herself how to make traditional Spanish espadrilles while being a faithful subscriber of Vogue and other leading fashion publications – what other impulses to blossom does a young creative mind need?
Manolo Blahnik’s sketch (SS2011)
Source: www.stylishtrendy.com, http://ttbdivas.blogspot.ca/2014/03/a-little-bit-of-fashion-history-manolo.html
Manolo Blahnik is both an artist and a craftsman who creates each base model with his own hands. This hands-on, artisan approach to shoe making is also a very Spanish trait.
Photo source: www.elle.com
Finally, even though it’s hard to believe, as far as high-heel shoes go, Manolos are considered more comfortable than many other luxury stilettos. They also come in many different heel sizes. Comfort through balance, as well as versatility in heel design are mainstays of Spanish shoe making.
Manolo Blahnik “Mary-Janes”: dubbed an “urban shoe myth” by Carrie Bradshaw
Photo source: http://starkster.wordpress.com
Manolo Blahnik “Hangisi” flat
Photo source: www.shopstyle.com
And finally, there is the originality of the design, a “dare-to-dream” kind of attitude, which is on display in so many Spanish shoe brands. Turns out, Manolo Blahnik is a Spanish designer and artist, after all. The Spanish king definitely thought so, when in 2002 he awarded Manolo Blahnik the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts.
Photo source: www.weheartit.com, www.maggiesemple.com
Sources: www.designmuseum.org, http://forum.purseblog.com/the-glass-slipper/manolo-blahnik-vs-christian-louboutin-314690.html