“It took 28 years to find the right location,” said the footwear designer, who donned a lilac suit with his signature bow tie for the occasion.
Unwilling to settle for a more commercial location like Bond street, Blahnik was willing to wait until he secured the right spot, that is linked to history and tradition.
“The history of this place, can you imagine? Cavendish House, which is the Royal Academy now is right next door, so we are happy as hell,” said the designer. “All my books and fantasies have always been centered around the area and the Burlington arcade; women stepping out to quickly look at the Burlington arcade or going to see their boyfriends at the Albany, having tea at Fortnum and Mason’s and going to Hatchers to get books.”
The new Manolo Blahnik boutique will be in the company of other stores, including Penhaligon’s, Church’s, Maison Michel, Lulu Guinness and Chanel beauty.
“We are used to doing things by hand and so do the people at Church’s or Penhaligon’s which I love because it’s quintessentially English. It’s great to have those people as neighbors,” said Blahnik.
Apart from the store opening, Blahnik is also in the process of filming a documentary and planning an exhibition of his work, which will travel from Venice, to Prague and Moscow.
“I’m not excited for all the hullabaloo but here we are. Before I get too old, let’s enjoy five seconds,” he said.
Kristina Blahnik, the designer’s niece and chief executive officer of his company, was also in attendance.
She was quick to point out that this was a passion project rather than part of a business strategy.
“Everything will happen organically, there is no business plan to open five stores in the next six months, there is no interest in that,” she said. “We’re about finding a place, settling it and seeing how it goes, letting the shoes settle into their clients and it’s about that. There’s no aggressive tact.”
Inspired by the columns in Mr. Blahnik’s Georgian-style house in Bath, the store’s decor is simple, allowing the color of the shoes to take precedence.
“It’s all about color, fun and smiles. That’s what the merchandising was about. We wanted the main collection to stand out, but most importantly we wanted to create an environment where the men’s and women’s collections met,” said Kristina Blahnik.
Other guests included Yasmin Le Bon, Nicholas Kirkwood and Lady Kinvara Balfour who was filming scenes of the store opening for Blahnik’s documentary.
“There is such perfection in Manolo’s work, he was one of the reasons I wanted to start designing shoes to begin with,” said Kirkwood.