I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve often envisaged myself walking down Fifth Avenue, swinging a brand new pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes in their crisp store bag (a la Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City). Of course, I’d be happily chatting on my mobile to my husband about my recent purchase, before meeting the girls for brunch. Yes, it’s a dream, a bit of a fashion fantasy, but there’s no harm in it and however shallow and superficial it might seem to some, beautiful shoes make me happy!
So, you can imagine how delighted I was when an invitation to the Manolo Blahnik launch at Harvey Nichols Edinburgh dropped into my inbox. Anyone else who likes shoes (or, indeed, likes shopping) will also be super excited at the new addition to our best designer department store. Oh, how Manolo has raised the Scottish shopping stakes!
Guests arrived to champagne, cocktails and canapes on the Forth Floor, where a brilliant live jazz band was playing, with a particularly enthusiastic sax player. We were shown to the exhibition space, where Manolo after Manolo stood perched on a white, cubed pedestals lit from within. As if the shoes aren’t godly enough! It was beautiful, with shoes of all of designs (flats, heels, lace, leather, satin, grosgrain, crystals, you name it) and colours tempted us all with their poise and grace. Later, we watched the short film “Jealousy”, starring Rupert Everett, which was shown at fashion week (and which I intend to watch again alone, so I can fully appreciate it).
Afterwards, we enjoyed a Q&A with Manolo’s niece, Kristina Blahnik, who regaled us with tales of her uncle’s flamboyance and passion for designing shoes. She spoke with such passion, it was contagious and the audience was beaming, leaning forward, desperate to hear more. Kristina told us that Manolo leads the design process from start to finish, being inspired by everything around him (whether an exhibition or book or city) to sculpting the last and covering it in masking tape, on which he will draw the design before peeling away the tape and laying it flat to create the pattern for cutting. One of five factories in Italy will then make the shoe and send it into production, where I imagine tiny, delicate fashion pixies clad in the flat version of Carrie’s engagement shoe throwing fashion fairy dust over each and every shoe.
Talking of which, I simply had to try the engagement shoe on. Rosie Steer (of Everything Looks Rosie) and I decided that, in the name of research, we should try on a pair of Manolos to see just how comfortable they are. I can confirm that – as far as high heels go – they are! When asked about the SATC engagement shoe, Kristina told us that it was the author of Sex and the City that made it happen. She said: “Candace Bushnell wrote it into the book. Sex and the City was a movement, everyone wanted to dress like Carrie. Manolo was the first man on the cover of Vogue in the Seventies – he was already part of the creative industry’s in-crowd – but Sex and the City made Manolo Blahnik the aspirational brand that it is today.”
And that is exactly what I love about Manolo Blahnik. They label is aspirational, the shoes heavenly and completely fantastical. The very fact that the brand is owned only by Manolo Blahnik and his sister, and that his niece runs the business side of the label, adds to the dream-like world and, as a daydreamer, I’m completely and utterly hypnotised.