The Sketches That Spawned Manolo Blahnik’s Spring 2017 Collection

A sketch by Manolo Blahnik from
A sketch by Manolo Blahnik of the Fibionabi mule from his spring 2017 collection.
Courtesy of brand.

Manolo Blahnik is as much an artist as he is a shoe designer. Anyone seeking proof need look no further than these beautiful sketches of his spring 2017 collection penned by his own hand.

Blahnik, winner of the FNAA Collaboration of the Year Award for his hook up with Vetements, creates all his shoes with his team in his Milanese factories. His sketches are developed into prototypes; he spends a few weeks in Milan every season working with artisans there. Blahnik has always drawn inspiration from artistic influences, and the upcoming season is no exception. The collection is a glorious mix of elements from his favorite historical icons and cultural destinations alike.

His two-tone satin mule, the Fibionabi, comes with ornate crystal embellishment. It’s an update on his classic Hangisi silhouette, which formed the basis of the spring ’17 Vetements collaboration. The style also references 19th century British designer Charles Worth, who was renowned for his lavish fabrics.

A sketch by Manolo Blahnik from his spring 2017 collection. A sketch by Manolo Blahnik of the Xacactus sandal. Courtesy of brand.

Blahnik’s native Canary Islands formed the reference for his Xacactus sandal. The shoe, featuring a new hourglass heel, looks to the green prickly pear plants for which the islands are famous. Created using double-layered goat leather, each thorn on the prickly leather surface has been punctured and pulled by hand using a technique developed with his artisans.

A sketch by Manolo Blahnik of the Peticius sandal. A sketch by Manolo Blahnik of the Peticius sandal. Courtesy of brand.

The Peticius sandal, with its linear contrast of shades in shiny patent, is a nod to the artist Mark Rothko. The effect is reminiscent of the painter’s “field of color” method typical of his oeuvre.