How Mr. Blahnik gets dressed...(interview article)

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  1. This is an older article, but I thought all the Manolo lovers would enjoy it. :flowers:
    How I get dressed

    The shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, 64, on dressing quickly and travelling light

    • <LI class=byline>Marion Hume <LI class=publication>The Observer,
    • Sunday March 11 2007
    • Article history
    I do think one should have clean feet. If I'm in a hotel, I might have a pedicure, but otherwise, I have a very mean hand and I do it myself. I clip, clip, clip and buff, buff, buff and really, anyone can spend time with some pumice stone. Maintenance is terribly important.

    Cheap shoes? I love flip-flops. I don't wear them now because a few years ago, I knocked my big toe hard and I said 'Never again!' But I do like them on a well-kept foot.

    My father [who was Czech] was a foreigner and we grew up on an island [La Palma, in the Canaries], just us and the banana plantation, and yet we had real Austro-Hungarian discipline. We always had to have clean nails. Now I find the discipline fantastic but, then, I didn't like it very much. I knew that we were different, we were educated differently [Blahnik and his younger sister, Evangeline, were home-schooled] and I wore a shirt and a jacket with a cotton dust coat over the top.

    My mother has an incredible rigidity, which is very Catholic. She is 94 now and she's up at 5am in the morning, all dressed up, made up and washed beyond! How did my father from Prague meet my mother? When he was very young, he was with his parents on a trip to South America and the boat stopped over at the Canary Islands and he saw her and (later) he came back for her and settled on the islands. Of course, there was no other business but bananas, although now it is all cheap tourism.

    Until I was 14, I'd hardly travelled. There were no planes; it was the boat, and nothing arrived quickly. After the war, it took two months to get US Vogue shipped to my mother via Argentina. Once I travelled, I bought clothes. First it was a pea coat from Normandy with anchors on the buttons which I still have somewhere, full of moth holes. At my house in Bath, there was an invasion of moths and they ate so much. I think they are eating holes throughout the West Country.

    I love to put things together in a regimental type of way, I do it without thinking. Sometimes I wear a bow tie, maybe sometimes a straight tie, maybe a pocket shirt, maybe not, but shirts must be white.

    To keep whites white I use Ecover. I have been conscious about using these ethical products for years and I do think everyone should do their bit, but then I use Roger & Gallet on myself and I'm not sure that is green. My suits last. I have them in linen and cotton for summer and flannel for winter, made by ... why not say? - everyone says these things now, don't they?- [Savile Row's] Anderson & Sheppard. They've made my suits for years.

    In the morning, I have a quick shower, I brush my teeth, put a hat on if it's cold and get out. I don't spend hours. The only thing I spend time on, because I am really bad at it, is shaving. I find it, I don't know ... not creative and I am still not good at it. Then I put ... glue, no ... gel, in my hair and I'm done. I'm 64 and now I'm quite used to my new old face in the mirror. I'm absolutely at peace with myself. Of course I don't Botox! Oh please, no!

    How many pairs of shoes do I own? Far too many. I leave shoes everywhere on the trail; at my hotel in Milan (near the factory) and at my mother's home in the Canaries and my place in London, which you might call a pied à terre, but I call it a hole, and my house in Bath. I don't like to travel except on holiday and I haven't had a holiday for 20 years, except weekends going to places I know. I'm in Milan all the time, so I go to Rome and visit all the churches. Every time. I think I'm the last church visitor. I go to them all.

    For me, new restrictions in hand and cabin baggage are ideal. I hate to travel with stuff. I just have my drawings in my hand in a little roll I carry on to the plane and the day they question that, well! No, I don't mean it when I say I don't like to travel. I'm about to go to Istanbul and I'm excited to go and then we have the prettiest shop opening in Kuwait.
    You ask if a woman can wear my shoes if she is not blessed with fine ankles? All is not lost! There are tricks to draw the eye; a bow at the ankle to divert the gaze and the cut over the toes. The woman I would refuse is the one who asks for platform shoes. If one of the designers I work with is having a platform-heeled moment, I say no, I just can't. The platform is the Frankenstein of footwear.

    The strangest place I have seen my shoes, well I tell you, once I was in Beijing, at the Ming emperors' tombs, and you queue, queue, queue to get into the subterranean interlocking vaults and down there, I spotted a young woman, an American, and I said: 'You're wearing my pumps!' I was happy she thought my heels were comfortable for sight-seeing in China. It was pitch dark almost, but of course I could spot my shoes. Mind you, for sightseeing, she had chosen them in off-white, well, a very light beige.
    This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday March 11 2007 on p6 of the Features section. It was last updated at 00:04 on March 11 2007.
  2. He's such a down to earth yet classy man. If he stopped me on the street and told me "You're wearing my pumps!", I'd probably faint :roflmfao:
  3. Wow, after reading the article, it really just did occur to me that his shoes don't have platforms.
  4. This has only fueled my theory (even more) that he must really hate CL's shoes.

    Apples and oranges.
  5. Ah! I was reading, and somehow in my head I thought I was reading about Christian Louboutin, had to read it again :rolleyes:
  6. .....and then hopefully pick yourself up in time to have him sign your shoes!:yahoo:
  7. I have a pair of shoes signed by him. Unfortunately, I wasn't at the signing....I bought the shoes on ebay LOL. When I received them, I though it was ugly writing and tried to get a refund since you can see it when I'm standing. Then I realized what it was, looked it up and effectively enough, it's his signature. Needless to say, I didn't return them!
  8. A good ebay surprise! How about that! ;)

    The "manolo" platform, if you can even call it that, can't be seen when the shoe is worn. example:

    it's just this extra bit of height added, not really a "platform"
    i like that you can't see it when worn....understated.
  9. As much as I like his shoes, I do feel that most of the styles are a little narrow in the toe box. But it's not a problem going up half size.

    I wonder why he dislikes platforms though. I find most platform styles easier to walk in with the extra support. :P
  10. I think this is completely dependent on your foot. I have a wideish foot and MB runs TTS for me. There ARE some styles that I can't get my foot into but for the most part, I do not need to size up and if I do, the shoe's too big.
  11. That was a great read. I wish I had a pair of shoes signed by him.
  12. I tried on a pair of louboutin platforms and my friend said that she thought they were too "chunky" - I think some people like platforms and some just don't. I'm 5'10" so I tend not to buy them anyway :-p

    I just got a gorgeous pair of Manolos for $99 (+tax) from Saks Off 5th. I couldn't be happier!! I love the leather soles on the Manolos & Choos.