A woman can never have enough shoes and Manolo Blahnik has taken this desire to heart. Rosemin Manji discusses the Manolo woman, challenges and inspiration with the man
How did you begin designing shoes?
I was planning to become a theatre set designer until I met Ms Diana Vreeland in New York. As a noted columnist and editor in the field of fashion, it was definitely a very important moment in my early career. She told me ‘go and design shoes’ because she liked my sketches of figures with shoes on. She was right and I am forever grateful to her for guiding me in that direction.
Because shoes change the way you walk and the way you feel. High heels lift you up and you walk with more confidence, more sensuality. And unlike a dress, shoes always fit. You can always rely on them.
How do you define the Manolo woman?
Frankly, I don’t know. I have so many different types of women buying my shoes all over the world. I do not think I can define them as one type.There are women who wear couture, there are business women and there are young girls who save their pennies to buy their first pair on sale.
What is the biggest challenge you faced in your professional life?
The challenge is to sometimes adapt my very creative designs to a version that will both represent my idea and also be able to sell. Also, in the modern world it is not easy to keep the highest standards of production with so many accessories and material producers shutting down. But I am desperate to hold on to it and only sell the best possible made product. I will never compromise on quality. It is paramount to me.
What inspires you?
So many things inspire me: nature and botany, art, architecture, people on the street. It could be a building and it could be a small detail on a dress. Honestly the way my mind works is very mysterious. I see something and straight away I imagine a shoe with that detail.
What are your thoughts on the women of the Middle East?
They are very beautiful and well groomed. They also do not shy away from colour, which I love.
What part of your job makes you feel the happiest?
I am the happiest being in the factories with my artisans working on new styles.
My favourite shoes for SS15 are the sandals with resin corals. They are very me, and remind of my holidays spent in Sicily.
Do you archive your designs/samples?
Of course! I have so many thousands by now! The archive is huge and it keeps growing.
Every woman should own?
A pair of amazing evening heels with beautiful accessories on them, something really special that they love.
Favourite spots in London?
I love Wilton’s restaurant, Sir John Soane’s museum, Fortnum and Mason, Pulbrook and Gould flower
shop, John Sandoe bookshop and so many more places!
Did you have a mentor in your early years?
Not really, the only mentor of sort was Ms Vreeland who guided me in the right direction.
Favourite celebrities for the moment?
I do like Keira Knightley and Gillian Anderson.