Manolo (1943). Shoe designer. His shoes, which are considered works of art, have been shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He participated in the first Biennial of Florence, Time and Fashion. Every year at the Oscars several movie stars “have to have” his shoes. Born in Santa Cruz, in the Canary Islands, to a Czech-Hungarian father and a Spanish mother, he studied in Geneva and his first job was as a set designer. It was Diana Vreeland, leafing through one of his sketchbooks, who suggested to him that he focus his efforts on footwear. So in the early 1970s he opened a tiny shop on Church Road in London. It immediately became a meeting place for women such as Loulou de la Falaise, Bianca Jagger, and Tina Show. Today, his eccentric miniature sculptures, balanced on very high heels, and familiarly known in the fashion world as “Manolos,” are produced in quantities of no more than 300 to 350 per year. They are all handmade, and almost always with rare and never-before-thought-of materials, such as leaves, tree bark, Venetian beads, and chinchilla. They are still on sale in that very same London shop, which is now a bit larger, and since 1984 also in New York, as well as in about twenty other boutiques, which sell several brands, all over the world. Very sought after by his colleagues is his Brique model of 1971: a sort of clog with a brick-shaped sole and a colored stripe. Always supported by his sister Evangelina, he has collaborated on the Collections of Galliano, Ozbek, and Berardi.
To celebrate 50 years of the International Fur Trade Federation, the Marconi Gallery of Milan organizes an exhibition in which Blahnik’s rabbit fur boots appear next to a Jean Paul Gaultier dress made of wolf fur with a foxtail, and to Rifat Ozkek’s “ratmusqué” bedspreads. During a ceremony at the Museum of Natural History in London, Blahnik is awarded the prize for best designer of accessories for the year. He designs the shoes for the entire female cast of the TV series Sex and the City. He sells about 100,000 pair of shoes a year just in the U.S. The novelty of the Collection for Spring-Summer 2002 is a 23-inch titanium heel that is only 3 millimeters thick.
The exhibit Manolo Blahnik, A Retrospective is dedicated to him by the Design Museum of London.