Thursday, August 2, 2018


Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes at the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

Growing up on a banana plantation in the Canary Islands, isolation cultivates a rich imagination and a habit of dressing pets (including a dog, a monkey and wild lizards). Manolo Blahnik--the infamous creator of Sex-and-the-City worthy chaussures--started crafting at a young age. A childhood of pretty-ing pets, paired with exposure to history, literature, art and architecture inspires a half century's worth of elegance and experimentation. Now on view at Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum, Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes showcases the spirit and span of Blahnik's creative genius--from classic to conceptually creative. Keep reading for more...

Literature, film and history are a few of Blahnik's obsessions that inspire his design process

Transforming feminine footwear into masterful works of art, Manolo hand-crafts the first pair of each concept to ensure design integrity. Trial and technique have been evolutionary for Blahnik--his first collection for Ossie Clark's 1972 fashion show included shoes without steel supports in the rubber heels! With inspiration drawn from history, literature, a host of female influencers and extensive travel, the breadth of Blahnik's palette represents the aftermath of discovering a virtually unlimited creative horizon.

Shoes designed for Marie Antoinette

For the traveling retrospective, Manolo Blanik and guest curator Dr. Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz scrupulously select over 200 shoes, 80 sketches and multiple video segments to feature. Now at its final stop, guests have one last chance to view Blahnik's creations, draped in bold colors, ornate fringe, magnificent bows, polka dots and eye-catching graphic elements. Notable pieces include selections from Blahnik's first collection, a smart lineup of Rococo inspired designs for Sophia Coppola's 2006 biopic of Marie Antoinette and one-offs designed exclusively for celebrity clientele (e.g. the thigh high denim chap boots created for Rihanna). 

Geography is a significant inspiration (e.g. pompoms from Spain, baroque shapes from Italy, etc.)

If you happen to be in Toronto, Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes is on view until January 6th, 2019. While at the Bata Shoe Museum, also check out All About Shoes: Footwear Through the Ages and The Gold Standard: Glittering Footwear From Around the Globe.  

Up close, attention to detail!

Installation view--shoes and sketches


Bold colors and patterns...

 Walls of 80 original watercolor sketches

Sketch + swatches

So many shoes...!

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