Manolo Blahnik was born in 1942 in Spain and is best-known for creating a range of designer shoes. His family was wealthy and his interest in designer footwear was sparked by his mother’s love of high-end shoes. However, during the war years, there were few opportunities to purchase the styles that she wanted so she took lessons from a local cobbler and learned how to make her own shoes.
Originally, Blahnik studied law but switched to literature before graduating in 1965. Then he moved to Paris to study art, where he also worked in a vintage clothing shop. He worked in London for a time at the Zapata fashion boutique and had stints as a photographer and a jeans buyer. It was Diana Vreeland, a former editor of American Vogue, who spotted some of his footwear design sketches and encouraged him to pursue his interest. He designed footwear first for Zapata and then Ossie Clark.
He then studied professional shoe-making techniques and went on to purchase the Zapata boutique. He made history as the first man to appear on the cover of British Vogue. Celebrities such as Bianca Jagger endorsed the brand in the 1970s and Blahnik picked up a number of awards for his styles. References to the brand in TV shows such as Sex and the City and Absolutely Fabulous helped to bring the brand to the attention of the masses.
The features of the brand include lightweight and delicate-looking shoes that give instant glamour to any look. Many of the designs feature additions such as feathers, fur, ribbons, and rings to provide a unique style. He has since worked with a number of the world’s top designers such as Calvin Klein and Yves Saint Laurent to create footwear designs that will work well with their collections. The prototype for each shoe is created by Blahnik himself and the designs are much sought-after.