FANS of TV show Sex and the City will remember the scene when Carrie Bradshaw got mugged in New York.
The mugger wanted her shoes. Carrie was outraged, they were her prized Manolo Blahniks.
But did you know the iconic shoe designer hails from Spain?
Who is he?
Probably the most famous shoe designer of our times. Born in 1942 in Santa Cruz de la Palma in the Canary Islands, to a Spanish mother and Czech father who fled Prague to escape rising fascism in the 1930s.
His mother’s family owned a banana plantation. He recalls having an early fixation with feet – specifically those of the lizards that invaded the gardens of his home.
Manolo would shape sweet wrappers into shoes for the unsuspecting reptiles.
Destined to be a designer?
Well yes, except his parents had other ideas and wanted him to be a diplomat and sent him to university to study politics and law.
But he rebelled, changed his course to literature and architecture and then moved to Paris to study art and set design.
His friend Paloma Picasso no less introduced him to the legendary Diana Vreeland. Seeing Manolo’s sketches Vreeland took one look at high-heeled sandals decorated with ivy and cherries and told him, “Young man, stick to the extremities and make shoes!”
His big break?
British designer Ossie Clark asked Manolo to design shoes for his catwalk show in 1971.
There was no stopping him. He made shoes for other London fashion designers, such as Jean Muir and Zandra Rhodes.
With a loan of £2,000, Blahnik bought the Zapata Shoe Company from its owner and opened his own boutique.
Manolo hated bulky platforms and preferred elegant, sexy shoes with skyscraper heels. It’s not just the stilettos that are eye-watering, a pair of Manolos – as they are known – start at around €800!
And although they are the most gorgeous shoes on the planet, they are bloody hard to walk in.
He is still passionate about shoes, still designs, and has boutiques all over the world.
His office is in London, but he lives in Bath in what he calls a shoe museum.
He has a prototype of every pair he has designed, currently around 30,000!
In 2007 he was awarded a CBE by the Queen for his contribution to British fashion.
“Men tell me that I’ve saved their marriages. It costs them a fortune in shoes, but it’s cheaper than a divorce. So I am useful!”