Manolo Blahnik is a Spanish fashion designer renowned for his classic stilleto designs. Limited production numbers, exclusive styles, and handcrafted designs solidified this designer and his self-titled brand as giants in the fashion world.
Blahnik was born in 1942 and raised in Santa Cruz de la Palma by a Czech father and Spanish mother on a banana plantation. He was initially homeschooled before later attending a Swiss boarding school and eventually enrolling in the University of Geneva, where he obtained degrees in literature and architecture in 1965. After graduation, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Louvre Art School in Paris, and worked as a fashion buyer and writer for a fashion magazine before eventually meeting Diana Vreeland, editor in chief of U.S. Vogue, who encouraged him to design shoes.
Blahnik's chief inspirations growing up were his mother and his aunt, who both studied fashion and style. His mother frequently traveled to Paris and Madrid to order clothes, and even crafted her own shoes. Blahnik's aunt is credited with helping him refine his taste in art and fashion.
Although Blahnik never officially studied shoemaking, he visited shoe factories and learned firsthand from craftsmen in the industry. As of 2015, he sketches and handcrafts his shoes himself, before overseeing production to ensure that each shoe is crafted according to his original design. After production, Blahnik keeps one of each of his designs.