When high heels shoes become a form of art. New York’s Couture Council has recently granted Manolo Blahnik an award on his work. The award ranges amongst the most prestigious globally and this is the first time for a shoe designer to receive such an honour.
Over 25,000 designs endorse the Canarian artist, born in La Palma in 1942. The son of a Czech father and a Canarian mother, he lived in the island until leaving for Geneva in 1965 to pursue his studies in Architecture and Literature, after which he moved to Paris to study Fine Arts.
In 1968, he moved to London, where he would juggle diverse jobs allowing him to network within the fashion industry. Three years later, after having met Vogue USA’s editor in London, he moved to New York looking to show her his shoe designs. His impressive talent led her to encourage him to stick to that working line.
The following year, he returned to London and started taking on design projects for increasingly luxurious fashion chains and brands; from Calvin Klein to Christian Dior, Carolina Herrera, and Oscar de la Renta, to name but a few.
In 2000, the TV show Sex in the City translated into an exponential popularity boost for his shoes every time the actress Sarah Jessica Parker would show her soft spot for the designer’s models. At that point, awards began to pile up, as a form of recognition of a long-lived career marked by his devotion and creativity.
A pair of “Manolos” are the product of the designer’s meticulous labour, his mixing up of textures, colours and fabrics, drawing and experimenting directly over the mould. Once the prototype is ready, it is shipped to Italy, where a long and arduous process takes place before the shoe is finalized.
We can now see the world’s most elegant women adorning their feet with a pair of trend-setting Manolos, the inspiration behind many mass-consumption shoe collections. It is more than safe to say that Manolo Blahnik has elevated shoe designing into a form of Art.