MADRID – Madrid’s Museum of Decorative Arts presented to the media on Monday its exhibition “Manolo Blahnik: The Art of the Shoe,” a spectacular retrospective highlighting 45 years of the Spanish designer’s sole-full creativity and the beauty of his world-renowned shoes, which are known worldwide as “Manolos.”
The exhibition is dedicated to the work of one of the most important figures in contemporary fashion, whose fantastic inventiveness and exquisite craftsmanship have managed to break the boundaries between the world of fashion and art, the museum said in a statement.
“The exhibition, organized by the VOGUE Spain magazine with the collaboration of the designer Manolo Blahník and his team from London, and curated by Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz, analyzes the complex and fascinating creative universe of Blahnik through a selection of 212 shoes and 80 of his original drawings, from the private collection of Blahnik composed of more than 30,000 pieces,” the museum said in a statement.
Madrid’s museum is the fourth venue to host this exhibition after Milan’s Palazzo Morando, St. Petersburg’s Hermitage and Prague’s Kampa Museum.
The 74-year-old Manolo Blahnik, who has been decorated with the British title of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), described the exhibition as “the most personal and emotive of all,” before taking a stroll to visit the exhibition himself, including the shoes he designed for Sophie Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette.”
Blahnik, who hails from Spain’s Canary Islands, said he is unsure if he is a prophet in his own land, but with his customary sense of humor he quickly added, “at the rate we are selling here (in Spain), maybe yes.”
The shoe designer stressed he still has “many shoes to create,” and hopes to live long enough to do so.
“Many Spanish geniuses influenced my interior life,” he said evocating how his Spanish mother used to read him Federico Garcia Lorca poems.
He also mentioned Spanish writers and cinematographers that created within him a narrative from which he created his iconic designs, although he stated it is “the woman” and the quest to highlight her beauty what has always “stimulated” his work.
Women such as legendary flamenco artist Lola Flores, whom he paid homage to with one of his creations, feature in the exhibition, as do Paloma Picasso, Bianca Jagger or Maria Callas.
Blahnik said it was women in their middle age whom he found “the most interesting of all.”
Curator Carrillo de Albornoz considers Blahnik as a revolutionary designer and described his shoes as, “Quality objects of great beauty, each one with a unique story to tell.”
She added that a Blahnik shoe creates “a unique universe where he shapes his obsessions” which may relate to Madame Bovary, the monastery of El Escorial or Alexander the Great.
He spent two years researching the historical figure of the Russian Tsar with a final result: “It dawns on you, (Alexander) could have worn them perfectly.”
Blahnik warmly remembered the first pair he designed as “a disaster,” and a pair of polka dots shoes inspired in both his origins and his love for flamenco that “(Yves) Saint Laurent liked, but nobody else.”
The exhibition is open until March 8, 2018 in Madrid’s Museum of Decorative Arts.