Thanks to the series Sex and the City, maestro Manolo Blahnik has already become an almost mythical figure, a household name. Although in fact he is quite a cheerful man in full bloom of strength and potential. He has snow-white gray hair and brown eyes - they say this is the most aristocratic combination. He wears glasses - most often tortoiseshell frames. Sometimes he gets tired of flying. Loves flowers. He studied law and literature. He always wears a polka-dot bow tie for formal receptions. His parents wanted him to become a diplomat. He loves gloves and hats more than shoes. In March 2010, his boutique, which was closed in 2008 to the general indignation of fashionistas in the capital, again opened its doors in the Tretyakov Plaza Moscow center.
The return of the maestro was postponed several times. At first they waited for him in November last year, then solemnly announced the February premiere. And then, finally, March came - and Manolo's heels again began to pop in the streets of Moscow. An agreement was signed in London on October 30, according to which BSG Trading, part of the BSG Luxury Group of companies (President Tatyana Pozdnyakova) became the exclusive owner of the franchise.
Without this London designer, the history of shoe fashion cannot be imagined ...
Czech by father, Hispanic by mother, Manolo Blahnik was born in 1943 in the Canaries. Perhaps that is why his first client was a dog (if someone forgot, the name "Canary Islands" does not come from canaries, but from a breed of very large dogs that lived on these islands in ancient times). The second client was his tame monkey. The game “Shoe the monkey” has become his favorite children's fun. A favorite toy - grandfather's rope shoes, espadrilles; he decorated them with everything that was tucked under his arm — shells, coins, and glass. The first shoe designer in the family, by the way, was mother - she sometimes learned to make Catalan espadrilles under the guidance of a local shoemaker in order of entertainment.
Manolo and his younger sister Evangelina grew up far from the world's capitals. “Banana palms, the sea and us ... in general, paradise,” recalls the designer. By the way, this is very close to the truth: one of the legends says that the Canary Islands are the visible part of the sunken Atlantis (geologists say that Tenerife is 12 million years old). Here is a heavenly silence, a heavenly climate (there is no African heat, in winter +20 ºС, in summer +28 ºС, and you can swim in the ocean even in January). In this blessed place, Manolo, along with the beauties of the landscape, absorbed a fatherly love for good cut: his parents, living on the island, preferred to buy clothes in Paris and Madrid. Therefore, already at school, he easily distinguished the style Balenciaga from Yves Saint Laurent.
Then there was Geneva. University Short hobby for literature. Paris. Work as a seller in a vintage clothing boutique on Bonaparte Street. Studying at the School of Fine Arts.
In 1971, collecting a portfolio of his sketches, Blahnik went to New York in the hope of finding a dream job. His Parisian girlfriend Paloma Picasso, the youngest daughter of the famous artist, introduces Manolo to Diana Vreeland, editor of the American Vogue. Looking at Blanik's work, Vreeland noticed a sketch on which a shoe with ivy and a cherry branch hanging around her ankle flaunted. Then the fateful phrase sounded, depriving the world of a good theater artist: “Why don't you make accessories? Take care of the shoes - you have great results. ”
Then there was London. My father helped Manolo go to a linguistic college to improve English, but his son was not going to languish over textbooks, he spends most of his time in a movie theater in Leicester Square. Along the way, she works in fashion boutiques, takes designer orders, writes for Vogue Italia and dreams of becoming an artist in theatrical scenery. And in the end he finishes the London School of Fine Arts. The first collection of shoes was launched in 1973 - the very green sandals with “cherries” fasteners that Vriland liked so much became an immortal hit from it. The collection was tailored specifically for the Ozzy Clark show (feminine dresses in sundresses in a small flower with a touch of retro were his signature style). Manolo considered him the greatest British designer of his time. By the way, in Russia at that time “millefler” also came into fashion - with the light hand of Slava Zaitsev, who showed the “Staple Collection” in Moscow and made staple shortage for a long time. And Manolo in the same 1973 exhibited his models in Chelsea, in the boutique Zapata. And again, a kind fairy editor from Vogue appears, only from the British. Grace Coddington on the pages of the magazine drew attention to the designer’s models from Zapata, and fashionistas lined up in front of the store.
And already in 1974, Manolo became an icon of style. He is the first man to hit the cover of British Vogue in a half-kiss with Angelica Houston against a backdrop of a glowing sea of sunset. However, the designer is not only cool; on the contrary, he goes to factories, learning the secrets of craftsmanship, looking for the best manufacturers. “It took me many years to figure out how to make beautiful and technically perfect shoes” (by the way, Blanik never received a formal design education).
A few years later, for two thousand pounds, Manolo buys a store, and together with his sister becomes his manager. Already then his style was determined - honed femininity. In the 1970s, in the era of the dominance of thick soles and platforms, he was the first to return a narrow toe and a thin hairpin to fashion. The maestro never took his work too seriously. More precisely, he did not make her an idol. In 2000, he even drew a satirical self-portrait, depicting his profile on a sandal.
For Blahnik, a real gift was an invitation to work with Dior Fashion House. He took the baton from Roger Vivier, and now Manolo is the only shoe designer whose name appears in the advertisement on an equal footing with the name of the couturier for whom his shoes are intended.
Pleasure, bliss, pleasure are Blanik's favorite words when it comes to work. The maestro claims that he is able to draw inspiration from everything that surrounds him: in works of art, nature, travel, cuisine, people. However, the most stimulating creativity is waiting time at the airport, where you can encounter completely incredible people. Clothing doesn’t matter, sometimes a person with his one demeanor, with one gait creates a special atmosphere around him, which becomes an impulse for new ideas.
Manolo Blanik shoes are sewn in Italy, next to Milan, in Parabiago, where Fratelli Rossetti and Thierry Rabotin create their collections.
Each of the four factories has its own specialization. One is engaged in the production of classic light shoes with a small heel, the other produces shoes for high fashion collections, the third - casual shoes, the fourth - sports.
Although the popularity of shoes is growing all over the world, Blanik stubbornly continues to consider himself a small manufacturer and is not going to expand his business, 80 pairs a day - no more!
Love for traditions and classics defines Blanik's style: “In my work, I always strive for excellence. My shoes are for those women who always want to look amazing. My models exist outside of fashion. Of course, they look fashionable on the people who buy and wear them, but I myself never do anything in order to “be fashionable”. My trick is to create a timeless product. These things will never look hopelessly outdated. The main thing in my shoes is lightness and femininity. ”
Manolo Blahnik is known for his perfectionism: he is always “both a sculptor and an engineer” of his collections, controls every step of the production process. An incredible love of work, amazing energy and corporate eccentricity in creating the collection from year to year increase the army of fans of shoes from Manolo Blahnik.
In the mid-eighties, Manolo created shoes for the Calvin Klein ready-to-wear collection, reaching a new circle of customers. This is only the first of the joint projects of the designer, which found a natural success. Suffice it to mention cooperation with Isaac Mizrahi, John Galliano, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta.
In 1991, Blahnik became a mass culture phenomenon. Marge Simpson flaunts his shoes in the new episode of The Simpsons. In 10 years, Manolo Blahnik shoes will become a full-fledged supporting hero in the cult series Sex and the City.
Since then, the maestro has constantly balanced between the unique and the replicated. On the one hand, Madonna, who claims: "Manolo Blahnik shoes are like sex, only better." On the other, a personal exhibition at the London Museum of Design and the title of Knight of the Order of the British Empire for his contribution to the development of the English fashion industry.
Once, sociologists reduced the mass culture only to a compensatory function: life is hard, at least laugh (option: life is hard, at least make sure that the rich also cry). Then they said that popular culture is limited solely by an entertainment function. Now the contradiction of the mass and the elite is removed in favor of the first. Elitist culture has become just one of many mainstream subcultures. There are national cultures, there are regional cultures, there are cultures of sexual minorities, the culture of fans to collect matchboxes, and there is a culture of Marilyn Monroe fans and admirers of Sarah Jessica Parker. The hierarchy in culture has collapsed. Thanks to the internet!
What follows from this? In fact, one question: how long will the stereotype hold: the more expensive, the better, more beautiful, more convenient? What will customers ultimately choose: uniqueness or circulation? Blahnik chooses the first.
In any case, all luxury companies how to maintain inaccessibility, while ensuring a large turnover, are now being solved in only one way: by making limited series for mass market giants. Whether there will be any other way is still unknown. And Manolo Blahnik has already become a cultural phenomenon.
During his career, Manolo Blahnik received many awards, among them - Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA, 1987), special award from Balenciaga (1988), Nieman Marcus Award (2000) La aguja de oro (The Golden Needle, 2001), gold medal for merit in art from the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I (2002)
PS In the TV series "Sex and the City" there are not only shoes from Manolo Blahnik. The heroines are shod in Dior, Steve Madden, Proenza Schouler and Jimmy Choo shoes. And in the movie "Sex and the City - 2", which just came out on the big screen, there are even more specialists in heels and laces. In the light version, young ladies flaunt even in Convers. The most ardent opponent of the series, Monsieur Christian Louboutin, also appeared in the film.
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