Interview with the Maestro Manolo Blahnik

Manolo says, from the Hemispheres Magazine comes yet more evidence that our maestro di tutti maestri, Manolo Blahnik, is perhaps the most delightful person who has ever lived.

HEMISPHERES: Was there ever any part of creating shoes that you had a hard time perfecting?

Manolo Blahnik in his pyjamas, 1973

Manolo Blahnik in his pyjamas, 1973. From A Chequered Past


BLAHNIK: I started making them with no idea of how to actually do it. A friend of mine was friends with [English designer] Ossie Clark, and he asked me, “Would you like to do shoes for my show?” The first shoes I made for that show were made of white rubber. I forgot, and they forgot, to put steel inside the rubber, so the shoes were very compromised, as you can imagine. The models walked very strangely. It was a mistake, but it looked very interesting, to me at least. It took me fifteen years to really understand shoemaking, and I’m still learning.

And this is exactly what the humble Manolo the Shoeblogger was saying in his discussions of the FN Shoe Star, that shoemaking is the wicked hard craft, something that can only be mastered with many years of assiduous study and practice.

But, wait, there is more…

HEMISPHERES: Do you follow pop culture at all? Any reality shows or bad pop music you are obsessed with?

BLAHNIK: Everything is trashy now, so it’s very difficult to choose. I used to love Hollywood, but not now. No one is powerful. The last star who was powerful was Julia Roberts. The other day I saw a girl, very pretty, short with black shoes. I said, “You look like Audrey Hepburn,” and she said, “I don’t know who that is.” I asked, “Don’t you know Sabrina? Love in the Afternoon? Breakfast at Tiff any’s?” Nothing. My hands were almost ready to push her. My staff gave me an iPad, but I’m not mad about technology. I love old-fashioned things: books, magazines. The only time I use technology is to buy movies.

HEMISPHERES: You find a lot of creative inspiration in old films.

BLAHNIK: The most beautiful thing in America is the movies. It seems sad that schools aren’t teaching fi lms as part of American education. Did you know last year in New Zealand they discovered a huge archive of old silent film prints? It’s an amazing find: a lost John Ford, early Vola Vale, actresses like Mabel Normand whom nobody knows about! Films are my life. I adore films. It’s my diet, my nourishment. I get enormous pleasure from them. Also books. I have all these books behind me right now on shelves! Very soon my family will have to come move it all to the country house, because I cannot breathe anymore. There is all this dust. Books everywhere. If there is a moment and I’m rushing and everything collapses, it will be a catastrophe.

Once again, the Maestro fully justifies our adoration!