Manolo Blahnik And André Leon Talley: A Lively Conversation At Rizzoli

Manolo Blahnik and André Leon Talley celebrated the shoe designer’s new book in the best way possible on Friday evening. The longtime friends came together for a lively conversation about Old Hollywood, unforgettable women (and men) — and, of course, Blahnik’s four decades in the shoe business.

The designer’s book, “Manolo Blahnik: Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions,” published by Rizzoli Books, debuted this week as part of the footwear veteran’s major New York moment. On Wednesday, he received a major award from FIT and Thursday, Blahnik hit Saks Fifth Avenue for a packed personal appearance celebrating his new boutique there.

The Friday conversation marked the first event at Rizzoli’s new store on Broadway and 26th Street.

Leon Talley recalled the first time he met Blahnik in the 1970s in Fire Island. “He stepped off the train in a periwinkle Rive Gauche shirt that perfectly matched his linen trousers. [Every day], he matched the trousers and shirts to oxfords he designed himself. They were in tangerine, lemon yellow, citrus green — it was extraordinary.”

Leon Talley told his friend, “What Yves Saint Laurent is to couture, you are to shoes.”

Manolo Blahnik Book Event Rizzoli Store NYC
Manolo Blahnik chatting with André Leon Talley at the newly opened Rizzoli store in NYC.

Here are some of Blahnik’s colorful quotes from the conversation:

On Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon: “It was the most important visual moment in my life. The combination of Mr. Kubrick and Marisa Berenson is a constant inspiration for me. Marisa is the most beautiful creature and incredible actress who we haven’t seen enough of.”

On unforgettable women during the 1970s: “Bianca Jagger and Paloma Picasso, every word they said was beautiful, every movement was beautiful. Tina Chow had that incredible movement too.”

An early film memory: “The first visual shock was when I was about 11 or 12 and I saw a movie called Senso starring this extraordinary woman, Alida Valli. That really opened my eyes and I knew I wanted to something visual [in my life].

On memorable shoe scenes in film: Marlene Dietrich and her [little pumps] in The Devil Is A Woman and Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity with her marabou mules. That’s one of the reasons I keep doing mules today.

On the “trash” in fashion today: “Without trash, we cannot appreciate style. Trash is necessary.”

Men and women in New York: “In the ’70, the boys used to be much more important than the women. Now it’s the women. I saw Uma Thurman the other day. Beautiful.”

On Marie Antoniette and the 18th century: “I loved how everything was structured, the color combinations and especially the quality. [This era] was important for me.”

On the American Dream: “It doesn’t matter where you come from. It just matters if you have passion. There are so many [great American designers who have diverse backgrounds], Mr. de la Renta, Narcisco Rodriguez. It’s a long list.”

Seeing women wear his shoes: “When I was young, I was very excited. Now, in Milan sometimes I see ladies and hear them saying they are wearing Manolo. I say, No, that’s a rip-off!”

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