Saying that Monolo Blahnik shoes are popular among the celebrities is saying nothing. Almost everyone on the famous horizon has at least a couple in their possession. But of course the most famous fan of the shoe is Sarah Jessica Parker from Sex and the City, whose fascination with Manolo Blahnik almost turned the shoe into another character on the show.
Manolo Blahnik began his extraordinary career in the Seventies and continues to be a champion of timeless and beautifully crafted designs. His shoes are synonymous with high glamour and full-throttle sex appeal and have become as famous as the women who wear them.
Born in 1943 in the Canary Islands to a Spanish mother and Czech father and raised on a banana plantation, Blahnik’s formative years could not have been further from the fashion capitals of the world. He began by studying architecture and literature at the University of Geneva but abandoned his studies after just a year in favour of moving to Paris 1968. He moved to London two years later where he worked briefly as a photographer for the Sunday Times and immediately fell into the fashion set, making friends with Paloma Picasso and photographer Eric Boman. During a trip to New York in 1971 with his new friends, Blahnik was introduced to Diana Vreeland, then the editor-in-chief of US Vogue, by Picasso. At the time, Blahnik wanted to be a theatre designer but, once he had been persuaded to show her his sketches and after admiring the shoes he had on – a tiny Edwardian pair from Portobello Market – Vreeland insisted that he “should concentrate on the funny little things on the feet”. And Blahnik obeyed.
His first collection was designed for Ossie Clark in 1972, but over the years, Blahnik’s shoes have graced the catwalks of the world’s leading designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, John Galliano and Michael Kors. In 1973, he opened Zapata, a boutique on Old Church Street in London which soon became regularly frequented by Bianca Jagger, Marie Helvin and Jerry Hall. Blahnik became a pseudo-uncle to the baby Jade Jagger and would visit Bianca at home frequently. He even changed Jade’s nappies.
Now universally known as ‘Manolo’s’, Blahnik’s shoes are coveted by a long list of famous clientele from celebrities to royalty. Bianca wore them to make her famous Studio 54 entrance on a white horse in 1977, Diana, Princess of W
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