On the second day of New York Fashion Week, many devoted fans came to see Manolo Blahnik at Rizzoli New York. He made an appearance with Andre Leon Talley, former editor at large of Vogue, for a conversation about life, film, and his true inspirations to coincide with the launch of his most recent book. Notably, the coffee table book of the year, “Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions” provides a visual and literary timeline of his journey as a designer with forewords from his inner circle and those he has worked with; a delight to the eye for not only those who already appreciate the ‘art of a shoe’ with over 500 illustrations and photos of his work.
Personally, I felt I could not pass up on the chance to attend. Clearly I am not the only woman who has even tried on a pair of Manolos and felt as if we were on a cloud, warmer and more alive after sliding on a pair of his shoes, never compromising quality with every intricate detail intact.
The conversation before the book signing at Rizzoli felt like a fireside chat type atmosphere. It was a crowded room but not unbearable. Admittedly, one to be fashionably late on occasions, I did arrive on time to grab a seat! ALT chatted nonchalantly with MB while reflecting on his admiration for iconic style icons and literary figures from the late enigmatic ‘femme fatale’ Marlene Dietrich to Truman Capote and the dark eyed glamorous Angelika Huston on the cover of British Vogue in the 70s. ALT sparked memories of vacations at Manolo’s home in the English countryside and trips to Long Island in which he embraced his own style even if he stood out as an outsider. Well-dressed and donning cream and brown oxfords, Manolo is soft spoken. It felt as if he was glad to speak to anyone and shake our hands if time allowed. Of course now it is fine to laugh about the heel of his first shoe breaking!!
Neither MLB nor ALT failed to recognize their admiration for the iconic Diana Vreeland’s influence on their careers.
Manolo Blahnik has been noted to cite his direction as an impetus to focus on shoes and mentioned the silk shoes he designed her for her with great regard.
Again, it is well known that within his 40 plus years designing shoes, films and their lead characters have had an influence on his work. He laments that his interest in 18th century garments is a matter of an appreciation for the ‘fabrics and luxury’ reminiscent of that era. The use of silk and jewels to lace and embroidery is visible on many of his shoes. Not to forget… the collection he designed for Sophia Coppola’s version of Marie Antoinette. When asked by ALT about his favorite films for inspiration from the 1950s, Senso, the 1954 film with Ingrid Berman and Marlon Brando with scenes in Venice during the Italian-Austrian war in the mid 19th century, was his first reaction. (This is now on my list of late night films)
Manolo Blahnik is not afraid to give his opinion about fashion’s evolution and trends. “Trash is necessary” from time to time.
There is a sense of gratitude and admiration for Manolo’s works of art! Despite trends and fluctuations in mainstream fashion, he holds true to his vision of the architecture of a shoe accentuating a woman’s figure best. I asked what his main inspirations have been for designing throughout the years.
“How a woman walks and how her body moves”, has continuously shaped his vision for his designs.
There is no doubt that a pair of Manolos accentuates a woman’s stride, whether an everyday BB point toe pump or always sought after crystal toe satin ‘Hangisi’ in rich hues of silk. Remember the royal blue satin version Carrie left in Big”s closet in Sex and the City!?
Manolo does not hide that he does not feel any personalities today could be considered a true muse in his mind. He resonates more with women of the past.
Time periods aside, his most notable muses or rather personalities who influenced his work were those not afraid to embrace their own sense of style in a bold manner with confidence despite inevitable imperfections while also maintaining an elegance regardless of the status quo or societal norms during their time.
I had not actually planned to share a post on the blog about the book signing and it was a tight atmosphere but I still took some notes in my red moleskin. Coincidentally, the evening before, it was a messy rainy night and walking through the rain, sadly without my rain boots, I just happened to pass by the Rizzoli store right before they closed. There was something whimsical about Manolo’s booties, boots, mules, and pointy toe pumps in the window alongside the most coveted coffee table book of the year with the raindrops along the window pane!
A pair of Manolos is perhaps a way we are able to envision ourselves in a storybook romance, even if admittedly an attempt at escaping reality.
Let’s appreciate if we do have a chance to wear his works of art and relish how they feel in the moment!
Feature Image via Dwight Samuels; All other photos by Eileen Marie with IPhone 6
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