Friday, 8 October 2010

Mad for Manolo: His Wonderful World at Liberty

Happy Weekend all! Since Vogue's Fashion Night Out, I have been determined to return to Liberty, to drool over their delicious 'pop-up' display of Manolo Blahnik's shoes. So recently, I did! Enter '
The World of Manolo at Liberty' 
via Carnaby Street and you'll be face-to-face with Blahnik's exquisite craftsmanship in the show-cased shoes (above and below). And, you'll step into a gorgeous space, generously filled with accessories for girls and guys; they are almost as head-turning as the shoes themselves. If you're yearning for a piece of the 'Manolo' magic, without feeling rich (or reckless like Carrie), you'll love the scarves, notebooks, umbrellas, cushions, candles and fabric (and that's not all):

Each product is adorned in signature shoe-illustration print or beautifully delicate rosebuds. According to Manolo, Liberty's theme of 'Flower Power' for 2010, was "very much behind this collection". Alongside dainty designs are bolder pieces (like the illuminated print above), perhaps mirroring the 'Manolos' themselves. As the shoe-master himself claims: "About half my designs are controlled fantasy, 15 percent are total madness and the rest are bread-and-butter designs." In any apparent 'madness', Blahnik's flair is always matched by his controlled design skills: shapely silhouettes, an astounding attention to detail and startling innovation. It's no wonder that he is one of the most influential footwear designers in the world.

Liberty is understandably highly excited about this partnership. It's the first time that Manolo Blahnik has sold his famous shoes outside of his flagship store in the UK. Blahnik's flagship is testament to his stellar success; it's the first shop he bought in London (in 1973) and remains in Old Church Street, Chelsea. He is also a big Liberty fan. 
Delving through Liberty's Print archives for this collection, his shoes utilise Liberty fabrics from the 1960's. You can read Liberty's interview with Blahnik, here. Below, 
are a few more facts about the king of high-heels, which you may not know:

  • Manolo Blahnik was born in Spain, 1942. After a home-education, he studied literature at the University of Geneva, then studied art in Paris.
  • He moved to London in 1968, to work at fashion boutique 'Zapata' and write for Vogue Italia. After showing his designs to then Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland, she persuaded him to focus on footwear.
  • In 1972, Ossie Clark invited Blahnik to create shoes for his runway show. And, with a loan, Blahnik bought 'Zapata' and opened his own boutique.
  • Re-introducing the 'stiletto heel' in the 1970's (an era celebrating platforms and boots), Blahnik stood out from the crowd with his sky-scraping version, the 'Needle'.
  • Blahnik 'broke' the US, via a collection for Bloomingdales, his first Madison Avenue store and, ultimately, by attracting the attention of Anna Wintour. In fact, it was the US Vogue fashion department that coined the much-loved abbreviation, 'Manolos'.

Of course, the designer and his shoes have become immortalised by TV and film and are constantly endorsed by celebrities. Apart from the obvious Sex and the City adulation, Sophia Coppola commissioned Blahnik to design shoes for her 2006 film, Marie Antoinette:

Finally when visiting Liberty's 'World of Manolo', w
alk through to the second room and you'll be able to purchase any of the latest ranges yourself, sit on a Liberty sofa and soak up the magical Manolo Blahnik atmosphere. Plus, there's a range exclusive to Liberty:

'The World of Manolo at Liberty' lasts until December 2010, so you have plenty of time to visit and influence your Christmas list, or buy gifts. Importantly, if you missed Manolo Blahnik at Vogue's Fashion Night Out, he is returning on Thursday 21st October! He will be signing copies of his new book, 'Manolo's New Shoes', the follow-up to 'Manolo Blahnik Drawings', which I discovered here. Enjoy!

Images: 1) - 8) My own. 9) Wedding Inspirasi, 10) & 11) Liberty.


  1. What a lovely and informative post!
    Who doesn't love Manolo?

  2. Gorgeous illustrations, I love how they've displayed the shoes in those glass encasements too, it looks really cool! I really like that you went into the history as well, I enjoyed reading about Manolo's path to where he is now:)

  3. Beautiful!



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