Manolo Blahnik: the Art of Shoes, an exhibition in collaboration with Condé Nast, is now open at Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas in Madrid. It is an intimate, carefully curated show spanning 45 years of the Spanish designer’s career. Blahnik is one of the most influential figures in contemporary fashion and thanks to his inventiveness and superb craftsmanship he has managed to cross the boundaries between fashion and art.
Working with Manolo Blahnik, curator Dr Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz has put together a display of more than 30,000 pieces from the designer’s private collection. She has painstakingly selected 212 pairs of shoes and 80 original drawings as a reflection of Blahnik’s work, capturing the essence of his design DNA through his interest and inspirations in architecture, art, botany, literature, cinema and the 18th century among many other cultural factors.
Starting with his first works in the early 1970s and finishing with the modern day, the exhibition includes the shoes that Blahnik created with costume maker and Oscar winner Milena Canonero for Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette. The show offers insights into Blahnik’s extraordinary and complex universe, with exclusive footage of him at work. It features his own drawings, which are works of art on their own right.
Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz says that ‘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 his emotions, passions and his love for life; they echo his complex inner universe beyond conventions generally accepted.’
The exhibition in Madrid includes an exclusive collaboration with Bulgari resulting in a pair of striking green silk satin pumps with ultra-precious ankle straps, counting more than 11.41 ct of diamonds, 48.61 ct of rubellites and 38.19 ct of amethysts. While photographs of Blahnik’s shoes from Condé Nast’s archives are on display, taken by some of the most renowned photographers of our time such as Helmut Newton, Arthur Elgort, Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, David Bailey and Patrick Demarchelier.
Manolo Blahnik: the Art of Shoes, Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid, until 8 March 2018.