For many years Manolo Blahnik was the open secret of the fashion world, his shoes de rigueur for any stylish woman. Then, with Absolutely Fabulous and Sex in the City, he became world-famous to millions. In this fully authorized book, Colin McDowell uncovers the man behind the label. Blahnik claims that his decision to be
For many years Manolo Blahnik was the open secret of the fashion world, his shoes de rigueur for any stylish woman. Then, with Absolutely Fabulous and Sex in the City, he became world-famous to millions. In this fully authorized book, Colin McDowell uncovers the man behind the label. Blahnik claims that his decision to be a shoemaker was ‘one of those accidents of life. I could just as well have been a milliner or a fashion designer’. His choices were wide but he chose shoemaking and started his highly successful business in 1972. From the beginning Blahnik’s shoes reflected his style, wit and flair. He draws shoes with a verve that is uniquely his own, capturing their spirit and mood in a few deft lines. As a total perfectionist, Manolo Blahnik controls every process in the production of his shoes and still makes the last of every shoe in a collection with his own hands. He has made shoes for everyone from Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall and Diana Ross to Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Victoria Beckham. His designs have been described by Madonna as ‘wonderful – they last longer than sex’. He also creates shoes for many designers including John Galliano at Christian Dior and Oscar de la Renta. It is therefore of no surprise that the word ‘Manolos’ has become synonymous with the finest footwear in the world. Through his informative text Colin McDowell takes us into Blahnik’s factory and homes to show us his life and his work and, combined with a stunning selection of photographs reveals this ultimate fashion icon as never seen before.The Spanish designer Manolo Blahnik creates the most sought-after shoes in the world. On a supermodel, a Manolo Blahnik shoe completes the perfect ensemble; placed on a pedestal, it becomes a minor art object. Colin McDowell’s Manolo Blahnik attempts to capture the genuine excitement generated by Blahnik’s creations. It is only partly successful. The breathy writing style never rises above fashion-magazine gossip, though the shoes themselves extend beyond fashion into art and sculpture–even metaphysical meaning. The maestro never puts a foot wrong. The finest materials, gorgeous color, and a sense of the theatrical combine in elegant originals that consistently surprise. We are told that, besides their whimsicality and sexiness, his shoes are extremely comfortable and well made.
Blahnik, “sculptor and engineer,” carves each wooden last himself, normally from beech, and supervises the Italian workshops that turn his designs into treasures. His originality may be explained by his lack of formal training, but it is also clear that Blahnik’s success is founded on hard work, eccentricity, and boundless energy. The book’s photographs and the designer’s drawings (especially effective) present the shoes as formal objects in settings replete with rose petals and fashion-photographer textures. As a glimpse into the mechanics of the world of high fashion, Manolo Blahnik works well. Readers interested in contemporary culture, celebrities, and the master’s thoughts on toe cleavage and other mysteries will rave about it. –John Stevenson