His shoes are so coveted by women that Madonna once famously said they were better than sex. So what will men make of his footwear now that he is turning his attention to them?
It’s the end of our hour together, and Manolo Blahnik is walking me out, through the grand hallway of his offices in a Georgian townhouse, when a rare silence falls over him. He is watching a courier deliver a parcel. The man has braids that are tightly bound into a green bandana that matches his uniform, and he hands over the little signy machine to an assistant with a jaunty half-bow. Blahnik is transfixed. As the door closes behind him, Blahnik allows himself a small gasp of delight, his eyes wide behind tiny tortoiseshell glasses. “Style!” he squeaks. “Everywhere!”
Admiring men’s style is a new hobby for Mr Blahnik, now 75 and so established as a women’s designer that, like Madonna (who once said, “His shoes are as good as sex and they last longer”), his heels are famous enough to go by a single name: “Manolos”. “If God had wanted women to wear flat shoes,” wrote Alexandra Shulman in 1994, “he wouldn’t have invented Manolo Blahnik.” After 45 years of making women’s shoes he is opening his first men’s shop, where he will attempt to do for them what he has done for women – create fancy, fun, luxury footwear that is also remarkably comfortable. “His men’s shoes, well…” said his friend Rupert Everett, “they’re like slightly more feminine versions of the women’s shoes.”