WORLD-RENOWNED Spanish shoe designer Manolo Blahnik is set to release a book of his life at the 080 Barcelona fashion show.
Manolo Blahnik, Fleeting gestures and obsessions features anecdotes about Sofia Coppola and cult Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar, together with 500 photos and drawings over the designer's 40-year career.
He cites his inspirations as being from very diverse sources: from the paintings of El Greco, Velázquez and Zurbarán through to films by Visconti and Cocteau and designers Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.
In addition to his book, a documentary about the Canary Island shoemaker, Manolo (the boy who made shoes for lizards) is being made by director Michael Roberts, and will include interviews with Vogue editor Anna Wintour, plus André Leon Talley, Rihanna, Paloma Picasso, Iman, and Naomi Campbell.
The documentary title comes from Blahnik's earliest childhood, when he used to go out in search of lizards so he could put shoes on them made from sweet wrappers.
Due to turn 74 this year, Blahnik was born to a Spanish mother and Czech father in Santa Cruz de la Palma, but was sent to Geneva, Switzerland at age 23 to study, graduating in law from the city university.
Blahnik continued his studies, but this time in art, at the École du Louvre in Paris and the city's fine arts academy.
By the age of 28, he had moved to London where he worked as a shop assistant whilst writing articles for the men's version of Vogue for Italy, Vogue L'Uomo.
Blahnik's true vocation did not begin to emerge until near the end of his 20s, when he met Vogue USA editor Diana Vreeland in New York.
Vreeland put him in charge of the shoe section after seeing his sketches.
It was Ossie Clark who, in 1972 when Blahnik turned 30, gave him his first real opportunity as a shoemaker, asking him to design the footwear for one of his catwalk shows.
Years later, Blahnik's creations have adorned the feet of models at shows by John Galliano, Calvin Klein and the now-deceased Spanish designer Óscar de la Renta.
Manolo Blahnik's first and flagship store opened when he was 31, in Old Church Street, Chelsea, London in 1973 – a year before he became the first man to appear on the cover of British Vogue, where he posed along with the actress Anjelica Houston.
Among Blahnik's multiple catalogue of awards are the Council of Fashion Designers of America Prize in 1987, 1990 and 1997; a Golden Needle in 2001, and an OBE at the Queen's New Year's Honours List ceremony in 2007.
His latest prize was the National Fashion Design Award in 2012, presented by one of his biggest fans, the then Princess Letizia of Asturias – now Queen Consort of Spain.
Blahnik is, additionally, the first-ever shoemaker to be the subject of a dedicated exhibition at the Design Museum in London.
A pair of 'Manolos' normally features stiletto heels, costs between €500 and €600 new, and often has a waiting list of several months when new on the shelves since every shoe is made by hand in Parabiago in Italy, and Blahnik is the only person who designs them rather than having a dedicated team - an 'old school' approach that has served him well over the last 40-plus years.
One little-known fact about Blahnik is that he makes every pair of shoes in wood before he creates them.
Along with Victoria Beckham, who famously said her 'Manolos' would be the first item she would save if her house was on fire, and Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw told a mugger, “take my Fendi, my ring and my watch, but don't take my Manolo Blahniks,” the Canarian designer has a long list of faithful customers.
They include singers Rihanna and Katy Perry, Anna Wintour, Jennifer Aniston, Blake Lively, Olivia Palermo, Grace Coddington, Jane Birkin, Paloma Picasso, Charlotte Rampling, Princess Diana, and Madonna who once said: “Manolo Blahniks are better than sex, and last longer.”