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As Manolo Blahnik unveils new book, we celebrate his greatest hits

Lauretta Roberts
22 October 2015

Master of the pump Manolo Blahnik officially unveiled his new book "Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions" in Milan this week, where he signed copies for an adoring public at the Rizzoli's store in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

The hardback book (available at Amazon for £85.50) contains more than 500 images (such as the one above) and charts the 40-plus years since Blahnik was famously discovered by then US Vogue editor Diana Vreeland in 1971. Having seen his sketches, Vreeland urged the Spanish designer (he was brought up in the Canary Islands by his Spanish mother and Czech father) to design shoes.

Manolo Blahnik began designing shoes in 1971 after Diana Vreeland urged him to

Manolo Blahnik began designing shoes in 1971 after Vogue editor Diana Vreeland urged him to do so

A year later Blahnik was designing shoes for fashion designer Ossie Clark in London and went on to design for Zandra Rhodes and Jean Muir. Shortly afterwards he bought footwear firm Zapata and opened his first store in London in Chelsea's Old Church Street, which remains his flagship to this day.

By 1977 Blahnik was selling his shoes in New York, initially via Bloomingdales, and the city took him to their heart. He opened his own store in the city and his line was picked up by nearly every premium US department store.

Blahnik, who today lives in Bath as he is a lover of Georgian architecture, has been immortalised in music, TV and film. Most famously Sex and the City dedicated an episode to its heroine Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and her "Manolos" (she was mugged for them). Bradshaw went on to marry her "Mr Big" in a pair of Blahnik's "Hangisi" signature pumps in Sex and the City the movie.

The Hangisi is just one of Blahnik's greatest hits. Blahnik, who never trained as a footwear designer (his first ambition was to be a mason), has never felt constrained by seasons or trends. When he designs a classic shoe, he sticks with it and it remains in his collection (and indeed the wardrobes of stylish women worldwide) season after season.

Here are some of the best...

The Hangisi

Carrie Bradshaw married Mr Big in a pair of blue Hangisi pumps in Sex and the City, the movie

Carrie Bradshaw married Mr Big in a pair of blue Hangisi pumps in Sex and the City, the movie

The Swan

Bella Swan wears these for her wedding in the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

Bella Swan wears these for her wedding in the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

The Campari or Mary Jane

These too appeared in an episode of Sex and the City (in the fashion cupboard of Vogue). Kate Moss is also a fan

These too appeared in an episode of Sex and the City (in the fashion cupboard of Vogue). Kate Moss is also a fan

The BB

The classic BB stiletto; available in many colours and materials. Victoria Beckham favours these

The classic BB stiletto; available in many colours and materials. Victoria Beckham favours these

The Chaos Sandal

Chaos by name, simplicity by nature. Much copied, never bettered, these are a red-carpet staple

Chaos by name, chic by nature. Much copied, never bettered, these are a red-carpet staple

Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions is out now

Fleeting Gestures and Obsessions is out now, published by Rizzoli

 

 

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