The Cherry Shoe By Manolo Blahnik

Pictured is one of the 60 recreations of Monolo Blahnik’s iconic 1971 cherry heel which was seen in V&A’s 2003 Ossie Clark exhibition. This is the shoe that put Blahnik on the map. This design was inspired by Blahnik’s favorite fruit, cherries. I love how the green suede stems are so artfully versatile and can be worn wrapped up the leg in any way or simply around the ankle. 

Photo ©V&A Museum

The open toe shoe, block heeled shoe is covered in green suede in two shades with leaf shaped accents along the toe box, heel cap and along the long straps that tie up around the ankle.

Photo ©V&A Museum
Photo ©V&A Museum

Manolo Blahnik is best known for his sleek and glamorous stiletto heels. His stunning shoes are expertly handcrafted using a shoe prototype which he designed by hand. Every shoe goes through nearly fifty different production processes, so his factory in Parabiago, Italy, only creates about eighty pairs a day.

Blahnik was born Manuel Blahnik Rodriguez the same years as Barbra-1942 in Santa Cruz de la Palma (Canary Islands) Spain. His mother Manuela owned a banana plantation there and both he and his sister were homeschooled. Manuela loved shoes and was taught to make her own by a local cobbler. She was an avid reader of fashion magazines and would have local dressmakers copy popular styles for her and make shoes from her original sketches. Manolo, inspired by watching his mother, began to play with making shoes for the reptiles around out of aluminum candy wrappers. He went on to attend Swiss boarding school and study at University of Geneva where he studied literature. After graduating in 1965 he relocated to Paris where he studied art at École de Beaux-Arts and stage set design at Louvre Art School. Blahnik worked in a variety of jobs including as a photographer, jeans buyer and writer for Italian Vogue. In 1969 his close friend Paloma Picasso introduced him to Vogue’s Diana Vreeland whom he shared his footwear sketches with. She was so impressed that she encouraged him to pursue shoe design telling him  “Young man, stick to the extremities and make shoes!”. 

Soon after, Blahnik settled in London and began to design for Zapata and Ossie Clark. His first big hit was the 1971 “Cherry Shoe” which featured a block heel with faux cherries hanging from green ankle straps. Blahnik wanted to perfect his technique even more and studied shoemaking with craftsmen in Northampton and East London. By 1973 he was able to buy out the company he has previously worked for-Zapata and launch his own boutique. Bianca Jagger became one of his most famous customers, and in 1977 wore his shoes while making her entrance to Studio 54 on a white horse thus sealing his success.

His brand soon became available at Bloomingdales and his first NYC store was opened in 1983. By that time his shoes were idolized by women all over the world. The British television show “Absolutely Fabulous” (1992-2003) heavily featured his shoes as did the legendary “Sex In The City” (1998-2004) helping to make Manolo Blahnik not only a fashion icon but a household name. 

In 2007 he was named Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in honor of his contributions to the British fashion industry. 

A shot from “Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards”-available on Netflix

Today, Blahnik continues to design stunning shoes and accesses for both men and women.