Manolo Blahnik’s Next Act: A New Store in Geneva

Hot off a busy 2017 promoting the documentary “Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards,” Manolo Blahnik is rolling ahead with a host of projects, including plans to open a shop in a city he’s always loved: Geneva.

The store, which spans 860 square feet, is set to open in April on the central Rue de la Corraterie, right near one of the cinemas he used to frequent as a university student there. The unit will be the footwear brand’s 14th standalone store and its first in Switzerland.

After leaving his native Canary Islands, Blahnik attended the University of Geneva, where he studied international law and politics, and said the city fueled his passions for literature and cinema. The designer said he recalls “obsessively” visiting the local cinema to watch French classics and his all-time favorite film, Luchino Visconti’s “The Leopard.”

Manolo Blahnik, The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards, Film Premiere
Manolo and Kristina Blahnik at the “Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards” film premiere.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

He described Geneva, where he lived in the early ’60s, as charming, calm and beautiful. “And the people! I was spellbound by them. They are intelligent and sophisticated, with an incredible eye for detail and craftsmanship.”

Nick Leith Smith, the brand’s long-standing architect, designed the store with geometry in mind: There are contrasting stripes and polka dots, while furniture and displays have rounded edges. The store will stock the designer’s classic and seasonal styles as well as some men’s footwear.

CEO Kristina Blahnik said the choice of Geneva as a location “came from the heart and felt unbelievably right. It’s Manolo going home, in a way, because Geneva was where his cultural curiosities evolved.”

Manolo Blahnik Geneva Store
A polka dot pump.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

Manolo wanted the store to feel like a salon, she said, a place where customers could relax and get away from the retail frenzy. The store’s style has touches of Le Corbusier and Josef Hoffmann, and formerly belonged to the jeweler Edith Moldaschl. Kristina Blahnik added that it was important that the new store fit into its surroundings in Geneva.

Other retail openings for 2018 include a store at the Villaggio Mall in Qatar that opens this month and one at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The brand will also be moving to a bigger space at Selfridges in July.

As reported, the label is also expanding its space in London’s Burlington Arcade. The company opened its first shop there in 2016, and in the spring it’s due to take over the space next door, at number 34, for the first dedicated menswear store. The space will span 411 square feet.

The brand’s aim is to “optimize and not maximize. Our expansion is steady but organic, and we are very fortunate that we frequently encounter serendipitous moments which align seamlessly with the house’s values,” Kristina Blahnik said.

Meanwhile, the “Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes” exhibition, which is outstripping visitor expectations in Madrid, will move to the BATA Shoe Museum in Toronto in May, while the documentary has landed at Netflix and will remain on the site for 18 months.

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