Last week saw the launch of Manolo Blahnik’s touring artistic residency starting at the Palazzo Morando fashion museum in Milan, Italy.
Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes is an intimate retrospective spanning 45 years of work by one of the most influential figures in his field; his inventiveness and superb craft has managed to cross boundaries between fashion and art.
With over 30,000 unique styles in the infamous private archive, Mr. Blahnik with the curator Dr. Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz has hand selected 212 shoes and 80 original drawings as a personal reflection of his work capturing his design essence through his passions and inspirations: architecture, art, botany, literature, cinema, the Eighteenth Century, Italy, Russia, Spain and many other cultural influences that fascinate him.
True to the nature of a cultural exchange, the touring residency, The Art of Shoes will land in revered and prestigious locations that have meaning to Mr. Blahnik, his work and his life.
Launched at the Palazzo Morando in Milan; a fashion capital and home to the factories where Manolo Blahnik shoes are brought to life it will then move to the world-renowned State Museum Hermitage in St. Petersburg Russia, a source of constant inspiration for Mr. Blahnik.
From there on to The Czech Republic, the paternal home of the Blahnik family where the exhibition will show at Museum Kampa in Prague, followed by the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas in Madrid, Spain, Mr. Blahnik’s heart land. In 2018 the tour will jump to the esteemed BATA shoe museum in Toronto, Canada.
Spanning from the early 1970’s to modern day, the creative selection will also include the collection of Marie Antoinette shoes which Mr Blahnik created with Oscar winner Milena Canonero for Sofia Coppola’s film Marie Antoinette (2006).
Attendees of the exhibition will be enlightened with insights into Mr Blahnik’s extraordinary and complex universe with exclusive footage of him at work and his celebrated artistic drawings and sketches.
The tour will be accompanied by a book published by Skira/Rizzoli penned by the curator Cristina Carrillo Albornoz from conversations with Mr. Blahnik, taking the reader through the A–Z of his motivations and enthusiasms.
The book will be available at all participating museums and online at manoloblahnik.com.
Dr. Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz, the curator says: ‘Manolo is fabulously visual, his mind restless and constantly curious about the world. In each style, he tries to capture what he considers to be the essence of elegance, femininity and beauty which he has channelled and entwined with his various cultural and emotional influences. Manolo’s shoes carry also his emotions, passions and his love for life; they echo his complex inner universe beyond conventions generally accepted and the result simply excels.’
The exhibition will be divided into six sections examining the constant themes which he returns to throughout his career.
The first section called ‘Gala’ displays a range of Blahnik’s most imaginative shoes, all indicating his twist of irony and fantasy; this section will include his Marie Antoinette shoes.
The second will review his geographical and environmental influences, with shoes inspired by Spain, Italy, Africa, Russia, England and Japan.
The third section will examine his fascination with art and architecture and how these areas motivate him in shaping his constructions.
The fourth section will be nature, representing his intense love for the botanical world which has been apparent throughout his career.
The fifth section is entitled, ‘Materials’ and includes a selection of shoes depicting the elaborate details, rich fabrications and colours used through exquisite craftsmanship.
The final and largest segment is the ‘Core section’ which displays shoes dedicated to people most influential to Blahnik, from Anna Piaggi, the legendary fashion editor of Italian Vogue to the actress Brigitte Bardot and Alexander the Great.
Throughout this unique insight into the design DNA and colourful universe of Manolo Blahnik, the residencies and its curator invites the audience to think differently about shoes, beyond fashion, and to contemplate them as pure imaginative and dynamic objects with an art form with independent personalities of their own.