Ballpark Estimate: $555 to $14,000 for a pair
Have you ever fallen madly in love with a pair of shoes? If not, perhaps you’ve never tried on a pair of Manolo Blahniks. These fabulous high-end designer shoes combine the art form of a sculpture with the beauty of a piece of sparkling jewelry. Although these shoes have long been a staple of the rich and the famous, it wasn’t until the popular television series Sex in the City made Manolos a household name that the rest of the world was let in on this trend. Now, many real women today seem to be able to relate to the show’s narrator, Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker), and her obsession with this luxury footwear brand.
Rumor has it that when you step into a Manolo pump, you will suddenly become a taller, thinner and more beautiful version of yourself. While in reality the shoes can’t help you lose those extra pounds or grow a few inches, the narrowly-pointed toe, very thin high heels and the angled sole do actually all help to make a woman stand with her hips seductively forward and move in such a way as to best show off legs and her figure. In addition, Manolo is known for perfecting the art of revealing just the right amount of “toe cleavage.”
Of course not every woman can instantly walk in these shoes, though. If you aren’t used to wearing high heels, you may need to practice. The effort is well worth it, though, because once you master the art of walking in Manolo’s, this skill will carry you very far.
A Rainbow Of Choices
No matter what your taste and your color and style preferences, chances are there is a Manolo Blahnik style out there that will appeal to you. The collection ranges from simple yet sophisticated pumps to extravagant sandals and mules that are adorned with jewels, ribbons, brocades and even fur. In addition, if you really can’t make the popular 5.5 inch stiletto heels work for your lifestyle, Manolos also come in be demure ballet flats, seductive kitten heels and classic pumps. One of the most famous Manolo Blahnik styles is the high heeled Mary Jane, which combines the innocence of a school girl with the allure of a woman.
The names of Manolo shoes are as interesting as the styles themselves. A few of the notables include “Grey Suede Stilettos with Trimmed Mink,” “”Ribbon-wrapped Ankles for Watered Silk Dancing Shoes” and “Silver Mesh Mules Trimmed with Chinchilla.” One style is even named after Sarah Jessica Parker herself.
The Allure of the Best
Do you love the idea of wearing a pair of shoes that are custom made just for you? In fact, most Manolos really aren’t quite that exclusive, but the careful craftsmanship and artistry used in producing each pair will make you feel like you are indeed stepping into something special. This makes them a valuable, although also subtle, status symbol for its wearers. In addition, it is true that only a small number of each design is made, so you are unlikely to find lots of women wearing the same style as you.
And while many fashion lines have their own logos or other identifying symbols plastered somewhere in sight, Manolos are recognized just by their classic lines coupled with unusual colors, patterns and other decorations. (There is also a Manolo Blahnik label on the inside sole, but it doesn’t show when you have them on.) This means that only those “in the know” will know for sure if you are wearing a pair of these high-end shoes.
Manolo Blahnik, The Man
Manolo Blahnik’s appreciation for unusual shoes can be traced back to his childhood. He was born in 1942 in the Canary Islands, where his mother had a passion for extravagant footwear, and many of her shoes were made by her own hand. This sparked Manolo’s own interest in fashion and appreciation for the art of women’s shoes. However, in his early years, Manolo had not seriously considered pursuing women’s accessories as a career himself. But in 1970, he was in New York City trying to become a theater set designer when he had a chance meeting with Vogue Editor Diana Vreeland. He showed her his theater sketches, including one of a unique shoe he had designed. Vreelend encouraged him to focus on designing shoes, and so the Manolo Blahnik footwear collection was born. Soon enough his designs had become quite popular in exclusive circles. Some of his noteworthy customers include Bianca Jagger, Princess Diana, Jackie Onassis and many other celebrities. Today, what truly sets Manolo apart from many other designers today is the fact that he truly “goes it alone.” He gives his own personal attention and oversight to every single shoe that bears his name. Rumor has it that he uses no assembly line or assistants, but instead insists of creating each and every shoe himself. This means that when he dies, the line will likely die with him.
Where to Buy
If you want to own your own pair of Manolos, you might want to check out the selection at your local high end department stores. Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys usually carry this line. Or, you can shop directly at a Manolo Blahnik boutique. There is one in New York and also one in Las Vegas, as well as half a dozen or more located around the world.
You can also often find Manolos on Ebay. Just be sure you are bidding on an authentic shoe. Some of the signs of a “real” Manolo to look for include the traditional black and white label inside the shoe, or a special collection label with Manolo Blahnik’s signature. In addition, Manolos have white dust bags with black lettering.
What It Costs
If you have to ask what it costs for a pair of Manolos, you probably can’t afford them. They start at about $525 for a classic pump or slingback without embellishment and go up from there. Generally, the more embellished styles cost more, as do designs made from exotic leathers. The most expensive Manolo is a pair of alligator boots that sell for $14,000. Then there are lots of shoes that fall in the middle.
Here are some styles and prices that will give you an idea of what you can expect to spend on such exquisite footwear:
- The popular Mary Jane style Campari shoe sells for $555.
- A low-heeled mule with a giraffe print is $695.
- A jeweled thong sandal sells for $915.
- A leopard print sandal with a jeweled ankle strap is $1,090.
- Over-the-knee suede boots go for $1,450.
- A crisscross alligator slide retails for $1,455.
- A brightly colored crocodile slide is $2,685.
- Alligator boots are $14,000.
So you can spend anywhere from $555 to $14,000 for a pair of Manolo Blahniks.
If money is no object, you can also purchase a Manolo Blahnik leopard print clutch to match your shoes for $1,355.
Not Just for Women
While Manolo Blahniks have been made exclusively for women up until now, the audience has just gotten wider. Starting in the spring of 2008, Manolo launched a new line of men’s shoes that is currently available in Europe and is expected to come to the United States in the future. The collection, which fashion insiders predict will be too trendy to appeal to the average American male, features brightly-colored options, including red suede oxfords, blue sling backs and leopard print sandals for men.