Manolo Blahnik: 'We were set on opening the doors to my archive to a global audience'

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Manolo Blahnik is celebrating 50 years of design and craftsmanship this year.
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To mark the brand's 50th anniversary, Manolo Blahnik has spent months preparing a major project that is resolutely future-focused: a virtual museum that makes the famous designer's archives accessible worldwide. As this digital treasure trove of footwear and design prepares to open, Thursday, November 18, Manolo Blahnik reflects on five decades of history and design, as well as on the origins of this anniversary initiative.

You're celebrating the house's 50th anniversary in a particular context after almost two years of
pandemic. Is this anniversary even more important? And if so, why?

I can't believe it has been 50 years... the time has gone so quickly, but it does when you are doing something you love. I think it is important to celebrate my teams around the world who have made 50 years possible.

What are your most outstanding memories of the last five decades?
Too many. My first show with Ossie Clark in 1971 was where it all began, so that is a very important and fond
memory. Collaborating with Azzedine Alaia and John Galliano, two geniuses, both brilliant and inspiring, is
another. But there have been so many, I'm very fortunate to have had so many wonderful times in my career.

Has the Manolo Blahnik woman evolved much in the last 50 years?
I think she always wants to feel elegant and invests in high quality, timeless pieces. So no, I don't think that has changed at all. Possibly the styles she chooses to invest in over a lifetime change.

The pandemic could have killed the stiletto, with women now swearing by flat shoes and sneakers. Do you think this is just temporary?
For a short time, people had fewer reasons to wear high-heeled shoes, but I don't think that would ever kill the stiletto, I think that would be tragic! They are iconic and will always be.

You are launching the Gold capsule for this 50th anniversary, which is a tribute to craftsmanship and know- how with feathers, lace, macramé, and leather. Why this choice?
We are celebrating 50 years, which is signified by the color gold. Although, I've used gold in my collection for
years, in all its forms. Simply divine! The materials in this collection are very special indeed, we have a handmade lurex lace that is completely new for us. A crackled gold ‘sweet wrapper' foil finish, a boot with the most exquisite fringing and so many more new materials to discover!

There is also the "Bells" line which is a more personal tribute. Can you tell us about it?
My mother had a beautiful gold bracelet that she designed herself. A huge gold chain with bells, it was incredibly noisy but very sentimental as it had our names [her children] engraved inside each bell. It was important to me to incorporate this into my designs of the collection. The RAYUELA is my favorite!

This collection is an ode to the past, but you are also offering an interactive experience through a virtual museum that is clearly avant-garde and future-oriented. Are you already preparing for the next 50 years?
Although I am often inspired by the past creatively, I only ever focus on the future, it's all that matters. I am
excited by things to come.

Would this virtual museum have been possible without the pandemic?
Absolutely. The idea was my niece's [Kristina Blahnik, company CEO]; she discussed this fabulous idea long before the pandemic. We were set on opening the doors to my archive to a global audience, so the only way to achieve this was virtually. It's quite unbelievable what you can do these days.

Is this a way to make Manolo Blahnik accessible to everyone, everywhere in the world?
We always wanted this to be virtual, it was important to us that we were making this accessible on a global scale.

Christelle Pellissier

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