Exclusive: Manolo Blahnik, In His Own Words, Takes FN on a Thrilling Ride Through 50 Incredible Years in Shoes

“Everybody says the same thing, that this milestone is quite extraordinary. It seems to me like 50 days or months. I’ve been having such a divine time – bad times, too. In my mind, 50 years is a lie.”

Manolo Blahnik  is Zooming in from his Bath, England, home, and the 78-year-old shoe legend is feeling particularly energized after receiving his coronavirus booster shot on this late October day.

Off camera and masked up, Blahnik — who’s working alongside eagle-eyed house historian Jamie Prieto — frets about his voice, clearly frustrated about having to talk through a computer screen.

The charismatic designer, reluctantly, has spent nearly two years online now — using technology to work with the factory on crafting his collections, since in-person visits haven’t been possible due to “this terrible disease.” “It’s so rewarding to talk to them — they know how I cut, they know how I put the colors [together]. They’re my best people. They’re artisans, and I love them. The factory is the only place I’m really happy. I could be there from 8 in the morning until midnight, which I have been, many times,” he said.

Portrait of Shoe Designer Manolo Blahnik
Manolo Blahnik in his Old Church Street store in 1979
CREDIT: Tim Jenkins/Fairchild Archives

While he’s clearly eager to get back to Italy, Blahnik said he’s learning to adapt to uncertain times and relishes his solitude. “I went to see people in the place I got the vaccine, and it was very strange. I feel quite happy being alone. But I’ve learned to be patient and more tolerant, somehow. Mind you, I had fights today already, but anyway!”

For the next hour and 20 minutes, Blahnik opened up about five decades of hilarious antics, exhilarating friendships, unforgettable runway shows and, above all, masterful shoes.    

Here, through never-before-told stories and past anecdotes from the FN archives, Blahnik, in his own words, takes us on an incredible journey through the decades. Click the headlines below for more. 

Manolo Blahnik in the ’70s: A Big Debut, Nonstop Parties in London and the Truth About the Studio 54 Scene

Manolo Blahnik in the ’80s: Glory Days in New York With Perry Ellis and the One Restaurant the Designer Visited Every Day

Manolo Blahnik in the ’90s: The Designer on Touring America, Working With John Galliano and Princess Diana’s ‘Revenge Dress’ Heels

Manolo Blahnik in the 2000s: The Shoe Star on ‘Sex and the City,’ Fantasy Shoes for ‘Marie Antoinette’ and His Famous Hangisi

Manolo Blahnik in the 2010s: The Designer Talks Rihanna, Demna + Reveals the Real Story Behind Kate Moss’ Wedding Shoes

Manolo Blahnik in 2021: On the Designer’s 50th Anniversary, ‘I’ve Been Having Such a Divine Time’

Manolo Blahnik On the Inspiration Behind His New 50th Anniversary Gold Collection

Anna Wintour, Victoria Beckham, Kathy Hilton + 11 More Fashion Insiders on 50 Years of Manolo Blahnik

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