Manolo’s Big Moment

There is simply no one like him.

Design legend Manolo Blahnik, who has made a dramatic impact on the fashion world with his elegant designs and effervescent personality, will receive the first-ever Lifetime Achievement honor at the 25th annual Footwear News Achievement Awards. The FFANY-sponsored, invitation-only event will be held on Nov. 29 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

“Manolo has defined the modern luxury era in footwear,” said Michael Atmore, editorial director of Footwear News. “He has remained true to himself and true to his art.”

Blahnik has been a fixture at the FNAAs over the years. He received Designer of the Year honors twice, in 1992 and 2003, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.

“I do what I do and that’s it. It’s nice I make people happy,” Blahnik said on the occasion of that first award. “If I only do that in my life, it’s great, even if it is only a stupid pair of pumps.”

Almost 20 years later, he shared a similar sentiment. “I love what I’m doing. I’ve always loved it,” he told FN recently.

It’s particularly fitting that the designer is taking home FN’s highest honor in 2011, a milestone year for the awards.

Twenty-five years ago, FN began lauding the best in the business in categories ranging from company and retailer of the year to brand, designer and marketer.

The FN Hall of Fame was established in 1988 to honor industry legends. And in 2004, the magazine introduced the Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent Award, which was named in memory of FN’s late fashion director.

This year’s event will honor 11 companies, brands, retailers and designers who have made an impact, as well as three Hall of Fame honorees.

Steven Madden Ltd. will take home the Company of the Year honor for the fourth time since 2001. The firm, which has shown incredible strength during a tough climate, continued to make major deals and add more star power.

HSN, which has revitalized the home-shopping television and online experience, will receive the Retailer of the Year award.

The two brands of the year also made quite a statement. Ugg, which will surpass $1 billion in revenues in 2011, continued to wow the industry with its incredible momentum. This year, the label launched a new made-in-Italy line, dove deeper into the men’s market and significantly expanded its retail presence.

Vince Camuto, the other brand of the year, also debuted its own retail stores for the first time in the U.S. and expanded its international presence as well. Under the direction of footwear veteran Vince Camuto, the label is becoming a lifestyle player after launching ready-to-wear, jewelry, sunglasses and many other categories this year.

The Designer of the Year award will be handed out to Nicholas Kirkwood, who significantly expanded his business this year — most notably with the opening of a London flagship — and continues to set himself apart with bold, innovative designs.

The two launch winners in 2011 also happen to be best friends. Rachel Zoe and Brian Atwood each debuted new contemporary collections, and retailers cited the pair of lines as major standouts.

Marketer of the Year Adidas went all out with its celebrity-filled “All Adidas” campaign, which for the first time brought together all the brand’s performance and fashion lines.

Ron White, Independent Retailer of the Year, continues to lead the Canadian retail pack, and this year he took his vision a step further by launching his own footwear line.

Burak Uyan, the recipient of the Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent Award, is one of the industry’s brightest young stars. Now in his second year, the designer is garnering celebrity buzz and support from big-name retailers.

FN will induct three longtime members of the industry into the Hall of Fame. Brothers Larry and Jim Tarica, who grew up in the footwear business, have expanded Jimlar Corp. into a global powerhouse. And Patricia Field, the celebrated costume designer, has been responsible for sparking many hot footwear trends, particularly through her work on “Sex & the City.”

Finally, in another new addition to the FNAAs, Kenneth Cole will receive the Icon Award for Social Impact for his far-reaching philanthropic work.

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