Manolo Blahnik

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9780060196844: Manolo Blahnik

For many years Manolo Blahnik was the open secret of the fashion world, his shoes de rigueur for any stylish woman. Then, with the television series Absolutely Fabulous, in which his name was mentioned at least once every programme, he became world famous to millions. In this fully authorized book, Colin McDowell uncovers the man behind the label.

Blahnik claims that his decision to be a shoemaker was 'one of those accidents of life. I could just as well have been a milliner or a fashion designer'. His choices were wide, but he chose shoemaking and started his highly successful business in 1972 with his shop Zapata. From the beginning, Blahnik's shoes reflected his style, wit and flair. He draws shoes with a verve that is uniquely his own, capturing their spirit and mood in a few deft lines.

As a total perfectionist, Manolo Blahnik controls every process in the production of his shoes and still makes the last of every shoe in a collection with his own hands. He has made shoes for everyone from Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall and Diana Ross to Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Victoria Beckham. His designs have been described by Madonna as 'wonderful-- they last longer than sex'. He also creates shoes for thirteen designers, including John Galliano, Oscar de la Renta and Christian Dior. It is therefore of no surprise that the word 'Manolos' has become synonymous with the finest footwear in the world.

Through his informative text and a stunning selection of photographs, Colin McDowell takes us into Blahnik's factory and homes to show us his life and his work, and reveals this ultimate fashion icon as the world has never before seen him.

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Review:

The Spanish designer Manolo Blahnik creates the most sought-after shoes in the world. On a supermodel, a Manolo Blahnik shoe completes the perfect ensemble; placed on a pedestal, it becomes a minor art object. Colin McDowell's Manolo Blahnik attempts to capture the genuine excitement generated by Blahnik's creations. It is only partly successful. The breathy writing style never rises above fashion-magazine gossip, though the shoes themselves extend beyond fashion into art and sculpture--even metaphysical meaning. The maestro never puts a foot wrong. The finest materials, gorgeous color, and a sense of the theatrical combine in elegant originals that consistently surprise. We are told that, besides their whimsicality and sexiness, his shoes are extremely comfortable and well made.

Blahnik, "sculptor and engineer," carves each wooden last himself, normally from beech, and supervises the Italian workshops that turn his designs into treasures. His originality may be explained by his lack of formal training, but it is also clear that Blahnik's success is founded on hard work, eccentricity, and boundless energy. The book's photographs and the designer's drawings (especially effective) present the shoes as formal objects in settings replete with rose petals and fashion-photographer textures. As a glimpse into the mechanics of the world of high fashion, Manolo Blahnik works well. Readers interested in contemporary culture, celebrities, and the master's thoughts on toe cleavage and other mysteries will rave about it. --John Stevenson

About the Author:

Colin McDowell is a fashion historian and writer. He is a regular broadcaster on television and radio, and has written for every major newspaper and fashion magazine in London, most frequently for The Sunday Times. His books include Galliano; McDowell's Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Fashion; Shoes: Fashion and Fantasy; Hats; Status, Style and Glamour; Sex, Power and Clothes; The Designer Scam; The Literary Companion to Fashion; Forties Fashion and the New Look; The Man of Fashion and two popular novels. He lives in Kent, England.

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