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Happy Birthday to the Maestro Manolo Blahnik!

November 28, 2012

Manolo says, on this day, seventy years ago, our maestro di tutti maestri Manolo Blahnik graced the world with his presence!

In honor of this historic event, and in honor of our Maestro's glorious day, the humble Manolo the Shoeblogger gives to you this link to the most recent interview.

Actually, I know what he means. It is strange to think, now, that there was a time not so long ago when shoes were just shoes, rather than the magical totems of success and femininity they have become. Expensive high heels have become a motif in our popular culture for Stuff Women Want. They are how Olympians reward themselves for success, and the default shorthand of every chick-lit book cover. And the origin of this idea of the shoe as a magical object stems, in large part, from the way Manolo designs them. His sketches of shoes are extraordinary: not inanimate line-drawings but character portraits, sensual and suggestive. Richard Avedon's fashion photography showed us how clothes can lend charisma and attitude to the wearer, by teasing out and emphasising the posture and silhouette of the body. Manolo did the same with footwear. With his sketches, Manolo has done more to open the eyes of the world to the transformative power of the right shoe than anyone since Cinderella.

And yet, Manolo has never really cashed in on the phenomenon he helped create. He has never sold his company. He still personally designs every pair of shoes that bears his name, rather than delegate to a studio. Key roles in the company are held by members of his family, and he has never done a lucrative mass-market collaboration, along the lines of Jimmy Choo for H&M. He is a wealthy man with an enviable lifestyle, but perhaps not as wildly rich as one might expect. He lives in Bath, in an 18th-century townhouse that he adores; he says he moved there in the 1980s because he “could not possibly afford' such a house in London. “But who cares? I couldn't care less about business,' he says cheerfully.

As always, he is revealed as the most delightful person, and our model in all things.

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