As Manolo Blahnik celebrates his milestone 50th anniversary, the designer is paying tribute to the women who have helped define his illustrious career.
The shoe legend opened up exclusively to FN about Princess Diana — one of his most special clients — and her shopping trips to his storied boutique on Old Church Street, which Blahnik debuted in the 1970s.
“I was fortunate to know and serve her Royal Highness. She was a joy, the most divine woman… wonderfully polite and enormously kind. She used to visit me at Old Church Street, we would close the windows and just talk while she tried on pair after pair,” Blahnik recalled. “I don’t like to talk about her much as it’s still too painful – I loved her dearly.”
Princess Diana was known for wearing flats and kitten heels, but she could rock a high heel for the right moment. In 1994, the royal stepped out in an unforgettable outfit at the Serpentine Gallery’s summer party on the same day Prince Charles admitted his affair on national television.
Diana turned heads in an off-the-shoulder, fitted dress (which later became known as the “Revenge” dress) and Blahnik pumps. It was a huge pop culture tipping point, and the designer was well on his way to becoming a household name.
“Usually she wore delightful little flats, but one Christmas she purchased a pair of classic black pumps,” Blahnik remembered.
The Spanish-born, U.K.-based designer has a long history with the royal family. In 2007, he received an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) from Queen Elizabeth.
“It was the most unexpected honor to be recognized by Her Majesty the Queen for doing something I love. It was just wonderful, a true privilege,” Blahnik said.