luxury

More sole than sense: Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik's 6 steps to success

Updated 23rd June 2016
More sole than sense: Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik's 6 steps to success
Written by Fiona Sinclair Scott, CNN
"Give the children some vodka!" Manolo Blahnik cries halfway through our video shoot. For the record, the "children" he was referring to are 29 and 27 and, sadly, we were operating cameras at the time so couldn't take him up on the offer. To call Blahnik a colorful character would be both a cliché and an understatement.
Having recently been awarded the 2015 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion for over 40-years of service to shoe design and with a new book out documenting his musings and inspirations, Sex and the City's patron saint of heels is having yet another moment.
The book, featuring words from his friend and film director Pedro Almódovar, called "Manolo Blahnik: Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions" is the first comprehensive and lavishly illustrated documentation of his life's work. And what a life it has been.
Born in Santa Cruz de la Palma in the Canary Islands in 1942, Blahnik lived on the banana plantation owned by his Czech father and Spanish mother until he moved to Paris in the late 1960s to work in set design.
It was a chance meeting with the then editor of US Vogue Diane Vreeland that kick-started his shoe career and in 1972 he designed his first collection from Ossie Clark. Throughout the 1970s and 80s he honed his craft, studying the work of some of the best shoe ateliers and factories, while cavorting with everyone from Bianca Jagger to David Hockney.
It was in the 1990s the Manolo Blahnik that the fashion world knows and loves came to the fore.
Today, despite his estimated net worth of over $200 million, he continues to be the sole designer at Manolo Blahnik and works alone without assistants or apprentices; he's responsible for the design of every one of the thousands of shoes that bear his name.
So how do you build a shoe empire? Watch the video above for Blahnik's 6 simple rules.
Video by Oliver Bloor