2018 is shaping up to be a very busy year indeed for Manolo Blahnik.
The designer first launched his eponymous luxury footwear brand in London in 1972; today, Mr. Blahnik as he is referred to at his London Marylebone townhouse, dreams up approximately 600 shoes per year. All are finished to precise specification in Italian factories and sold in 34 countries globally.
Collections are split by seasons and combine myriad researched influences; this summer, Blahnik looked to the costumes of 16th century Italian Commedia masked theatre and the fine jewellery of Queen consort Mary of Teck for inspirarion. Historical influences also abound this coming autumn, with David Bailey's photographs of model Jean Shrimpton, alongside snaps of Julie Christie in the role of Lara Antipova in 1965 film Doctor Zhivago on the Blahnik moodboard. There are flat silk ballerinas in papal purple, created in homage to the Baroque architecture of Sicily and 'Tinov', a baby blue Mary Jane shoe, its upper rendered in soft wool tweed, one of the anglophile designer's favoured materials.
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It's is not just fantastic footwear that has kept Blahnik busy. In January, the brand opened a new stand-alone boutique on Rue De La Corraterie in Geneva, Switzerland. Shortly after, in May 2018, the travelling exhibition Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes opened at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada celebrating his 45-year career with over 212 shoes in addition to many original drawings.
Most recently, the designer debuted a full collection of men's footwear. More than thirty styles, including classic desert and Chelsea boots in addition to intricately woven slippers and strappy sandals are available from the independent marque's first men's boutique, suitably located in London's Burlington Arcade.
Manolo Blahnik's sketch for Livius, a buckled leather show with Goodyear welting and part of his epnymous brand's debut complete collection of men's footwear - now availabe from the brand's first stand-alone men's boutique in London's Burlington Arcade.
"I was talking to everybody; I think people enjoyed themselves", says Blahnik, remembering the Garden Party he hosted to celebrate the store's opening.
Suffice to say, the designer deserves a summer break. "I am going to Bath and I will shut myself [away], with no telephone, no internet. Nothing! I will read; I have a little plan already."
Blahnik's summer reading list mirrors his work's kaleidoscopic influences, and includes books on landscaping in addition to classic literature and a debut novel of a young emerging writer . Many are long-time favourites: "To refresh, that's what I want to do now", he says.
See the full list here.
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