Manolo Blahnik - The Art of Shoes exhibition


"I love to observe those moments when a woman walks in a pair of heeled shoes, and even if it is only seconds, she feels differently, special. Heels can transform a woman instantly. My heel stilettos are kind of romantic; they emphasize the body movement, enhancing the femininity." Manolo Blahnik is not only a famous shoemaker for me; I can proudly define this talented man as a great artisan with a wide range of ideas and inspiration. His work fascinates me everytime. Because I am obsessed with shoes and Manolo, I have really enjoyed The Art of Shoes exhibition, which takes a place in Museum Kampa (in Prague) and will be there until 12.11.2017. I fall in love with this exhibition too easily and you will see why. Are you ready?


The concept of the exhibition goes beyond the boundaries of the fashion world and is divided into many section (Nature, Architecture, Art, etc.), which reflect on themes that influenced Blahnik's work the most. Botanical references evoke the garden where he was born and his fascination with flowers; the use of opulent materials and embroideries are inspired by his mother; or his admiration for the Hellenistic art and culture are marvelous examples of his sources, 
It is interesting that Manolo has always stressed the importance of the world around him as a source of inspiration. I like the idea how he used incredible references such as unearthly volcanic landscapes, tropical forests, golden beaches, sparkling blue ocean or blooming flowers and made these iconic collections.
On the other hand, he did not forget our past and he adores the 18th century (the Louis XIV- style heel with silk and brocades; the power of women as Catherine the Great in Imperial Russia or Marie Antoinette in France, etc.). 
I think he definitely became a cultural phenomenon and raised shoemaking to the level of art.

"The only thing I never actually had to be taught were how to hold a pencil and how to swim. They both came naturally. Almost like a birth right."
It was his talent for drawing that was to determine his career. For when Diana Vreeland, editor in chief of the American Vogue, saw his vivid, colourful sketches, she advised him to take up shoe design. His drawings of shoes are not merely suggestive sketches but artwork in their own right. His mastery of line, his rich palette and splendid use of colours - always in a bold, sensual manner- create an emotional atmosphere.
He sketches all his thoughts and he never use a computer, because he trusts his eye and brain working together by hand more than a machine.

In Manolo there is a genuine independent free spirit. He also possesses an innate sense of good taste, and an exuberance, the whole of which gives to his creations a unique twist. He never had any formal training to learn the craft of shoemaking. His was an unconventional education in the craft, learning the specifics by trial and error in the best factories, first in England, later in Italy. He talked to technicians, pattern cutters and machine operators, and studied the processes meticulously: how to cut, how to carve, how to use diverse materials and techniques. Manolo became a craftsman not only through mastering the geometry of the shoe, but also by understanding that making shoes is a matter of design, sculpture, and engineering.

A shoe should be pure, simple, slim and light, and approach that was the antithesis of what women were wearing at the time. He did not like platforms, thinking that they are incongruent with the body's proportions, so he revived the stiletto heel, elaborating it into a beautiful, even more slender stiletto  known as "needle". This change totally redefined femininity.
His achievement is not only his revival stiletto using the most innovative technologies of his day, but also his signature style, characterized by playfulness, a sensuous charm, with an attention to detail and creativity. Rococo art has strongly inspired his early days as a designer; his sense of lightness connects with the haute couture of Christion Dior or Cristóbal Balenciaga, whose dresses had a great architectural tridimensionality but seemed to weigh nothing.

Manolo's love of unusual textiles, fine lace and elegant embroidery came from his mother, who liked to order her clothes from the best dressmakers in Madrid and Paris. He has devoted nearly 50 years to the study of materials and it all started when he was a boy poring over the endless array of fabrics in Siluetas fashion magazine. He uses satin, taffeta, velvet, tweed, cashmere. handmade lace, wool, linen, cotton, silk brocade and even Ottoman silk, which is the finest, rarest and most expensive material. His latest challenge has been using denim for the first time.

So here we are. Stunning high heels everywhere. Am I dreaming? This is like a heaven! Enjoy it and do not miss this great exhibition!

Photos by Magnifique Brunette

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