Manolo Blahnik’s Golden Year

Since founding his eponymous brand, Manolo Blahnik’s name has become synonymous with luxury shoes. A staple in every woman’s closet, ‘Manolos’ evoke images of the style icons of our time—from royals like Kate Middleton and the late Princess Diana, to celebrities like Anna Wintour and on-screen characters like Carrie Bradshaw, who deemed it her shoe of choice in Sex and the City and famously offered up her jewels before her Manolos to a would-be robber. 

Manolo Blahnik (Courtesy of Manolo Blahnik)

Born in 1942 on a banana plantation in the Canary Islands, Blahnik’s fascination for shoes began at an early age. He recalls having an early fixation with feet, specifically those of the lizards that invaded the gardens of his home, for whom a young Manolo would playfully create tiny shoes out of aluminum candy wrappers. His mother, a chic and strongminded woman, can also be credited as an early creative inspiration. Frustrated by the limited selection of fashionable shoes available during World War II, she learned to make her own shoes from a local cobbler, a process that fascinated Blahnik and ultimately inspired his own collections. Manolo Blahnik eventually established his namesake brand and opened a shop on Old Church Street in London in 1971. The brand now boasts boutiques around the globe— with 316 doors globally and points of sale in 31 countries. Blahnik’s colorful career has been decorated with an array of awards for his achievements, including recognition from the Couture Council of America, and, most notably, by her Majesty the Queen as an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). 

Olivia Palermo, wearing Manolo Blahnik, celebrating 10 years of the Hangisi in New York. (BFA)
The Golden Capsule Collection

This winter marked the golden anniversary for Manolo Blahnik, who fittingly commemorated the historic 50-year milestone with a new dazzling gold capsule collection. The Golden Year collection is a tastefully curated trip through the last five decades of Manolo Blahnik, featuring his classic silhouettes, from boots with tiers of fringe to the chic Mary Jane heels (popularized by the always-stylish Carrie Bradshaw). “It has been 50 years of learning the craft to make the most beautiful shoes, five decades of work into one extraordinary collection. There are iconic styles and silhouettes, like the Maysale, Hangisi, and Lurum with a gold transformation. So effortless and chic,” said Blahnik of the collection. Blahnik spoke particularly highly of the Rayuela, a flat boot inspired by a charm bracelet worn by his mother during his childhood. “This season I especially love the flat shoes. I wanted to make the Rayuela in silk but silk was very frail so we did it in satin silk, which we can double up and is much stronger. I have never seen a style like this with bells,” Blahnik remarked. To pair with the collection, the brand also curated a digital exhibition coined “The Manolo Blahnik Archives: A New Way of Walking,” which is divided into five immersive spaces, each with its own theme, and delves into the history and progression of the legendary brand over time. A golden year for the gold standard in women’s shoes.