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Manolo Blahnik debuts his first men’s store

HighLifeChannel July 6, 2018

        Once upon a time, to be in a possession of a pair of Manolo Blahnik  men’s shoes was to be a member of a particularly rarified group. Over the years the celebrated designer has shod numerous famous friends (Mick Jagger, David Hockney, Bryan Ferry – the Three Graces of Seventies and Eighties Brit cool) and the odd shop assistant (I bumped into fellow designer Nick Ashley recently, who was still wearing the cowhide Chelsea boots his former boss had made for him 30 or more years before).

       But for male mere mortals? Well, let’s just say those lucky enough to be kept abreast of the maestro’s work have generally been informed during long hours spent in his 17 stores worldwide, whilst females friends exulted in all that colour and creativity.

No longer: Blahnik has at last committed to shoeing the male foot, big time. And to prove his commitment to the project he’s opened a dedicated men’s store next door to his current West End premises in Burlington Arcade. It houses three floors full of styles, from multi-hued Oxford brogues (dubbed the Witney) to hand-woven Moroccan slippers fit to step out into the Saharan sun (although, if you did, you might prefer the Fes style, a hand-dyed raffia desert boot like no other).

In keeping with male trends in toe-coverings, there’s Moccasin-style loafer, obviously, a Sixties-inspired, single-laced derby he’s christened the Rory; there’s even the great man’s take on the ‘luxury sneaker’ – in his hands a whole-cut shoe that incorporates a slim synthetic sole (it’s called the Entrendaor).

And Manolo’s largesse doesn’t end there. In addition to the wide range of styles (mostly handmade in Italy, using a variety of construction methods depending on their design) there’s the store itself.

Designed by the company’s long-standing architect, Nick Leith-Smith, it retains several key features of the arcade’s Victorian heritage, making a feature of the snaking staircase that carries clients across its three tiny floors, whilst adding a touch of mid-century modern in fittings and features redolent of the Italian designer Gio Ponti.

It’s an inspiring environment into which Blahnik will likely welcome many more illustrious friends (recently, he’s collaborated with LVMH Prize winner Grace Wales Bonner and Georgian fashion phenomenon Demna Gvasalia) but its scale and sophistication will appeal to a far broader clientele. The designer has a sixth sense for fit and feel, and men are now privy to his ability with colour and proportion like never before.



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