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Manolo in Manhattan


Manolo BlahnikThanks to the polar vortex, New York’s streets weren’t exactly high-heel friendly yesterday afternoon. But seeing as I was heading over to Manolo Blahnik’s debut New York presentation, I thought it only appropriate—nay, respectful—to make an effort and brave some heels. It was no small miracle that, after trudging through a snow bank and across an icy sidewalk, I managed to teeter into the Pace Gallery, which was quite literally blossoming with Blahnik’s floral-centric Fall ’14 offering, without hitting the pavement.

The presentation itself was serene: A quartet of films by Blahnik’s friend Michael Roberts, one of which debuted on ahead of the event, screened on the gallery’s white walls (the shorts detail Blahnik’s childhood, inspirations, and creative process, as well as a Victorian ghost story, which features some of his ladylike, midheel button-up boots). Several styles, like satin boots and pumps embroidered with intricate flowers, were inspired by his time growing up in the lush Canary Islands. One would imagine that a pair of pointy-toed heels, floating in midair thanks to some fishing wire and blooming with threads in a rainbow of pinks, was also reminiscent of Blahnik’s subtropical upbringing.

There’s not enough space here to go through the baffling array of styles, color stories, embellishments, and heel heights (though the arrow-motif black booties, seen here atop Mr. Blahnik’s head, were standouts), so I’ll skip to Blahnik’s favorite Fall design: an embroidered, tasseled, satin pair of spectator pumps that looked as though they were plucked out of some nineteenth-century Spanish dream (below).

manolo blankWrapped in a lavender scarf and perched next to a tower of macrons, Blahnik held court in the gallery’s second-floor loft. “I have so many references this season,” he told me, rattling off Spanish stage costumes, botanicals, and James Tissot as a few. When I suggested that his seventy-seven-style collection was huge, he was shocked. “Really?” he deadpanned. “I find it quite small.”

So what’s Blahnik, now based in London, where he showed on the calendar for the first time last season, doing here in the Big Apple? “I’m just here for one season, because it felt right to do it now,” he offered, recalling that, in his youth, he used to head to Manhattan to cavort with Andy Warhol and co. “I was a Factory kid,” he said, beaming. “I was very fortunate to have run with those people, but I’m boring now.”

I beg to differ. Would a boring man have turned out electric-blue suede booties, pumps with swirling gilded details, and knee-high flat boots pierced with big bronze studs? Unlikely.

On my way out, I figured I’d ask Blahnik for some tips on wearing spikes in the snow. His only advice? “Don’t!”

Photo: Joe Schildhorn /

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