Cinematic footwear: Manolo Blahnik and Sex and the City (I)
Manolo Blahnik is the great maestro of handmade shoes. Although his iconic designs have countless admirers, there is one in particular who truly catapulted the designer to fame: Carrie Bradshaw.
In one of our previous posts we took a look back at the Spanish designer’s incredible career, so make sure to check that out too! Now we are going to explore his creations through the lens of cinema and television, namely the brand’s prominence in Sex and the City.
The major impact of this relationship and the fascinating story behind it simply could not fit into one single post, which is why we have prepared two! In this first post we will be exploring Manolo Blahnik’s rise to fame thanks to the series. In the next, we will take a look at his designs’ appearances in Sex and the City, both in television and on the silver screen.
Interest piqued? Read on to find out more!
From well-known designer to full-fledged celebrity
By the 1990s, Manolo Blahnik had a well-established career under way and was renowned for his masterful shoemaking. Thanks to his creativity and originality and the whimsy of his designs, he made a name for himself amongst the upper echelons of society, with such illustrious admirers as Princess Diana, Bianca Jagger, Madonna and Paloma Picasso.
In the United States, Monolo Blahniks had been on sale in luxury department stores like Bloomingdale’s and the ever-so-exclusive Neiman Marcus since the 70s. At that time, they were the crème de la crème for true fashionistas and their best-kept (and most stylish) secret.
In the words of Candace Bushnell, the journalist and author responsible for the Sex and the City column that would give rise to the acclaimed HBO series: “Manolo was a code word that meant super-fashionable and super-stylish”. In fact, Bushnell flaunted a pair of Manolo Blahniks in her very first article, which recounted the story of her visit to a sex club wearing nothing more than a towel and boots.
The column was a hit in New York thanks to its fresh portrayal of the adventures of four empowered women in the Big Apple. Meanwhile, the woman responsible for capturing the column’s fashion sense on screen was Patricia Field. The designer was picked to put together fabulous outfits for the series (earning her an Emmy and four other nominations) and for the subsequent films. Of course, she too was a devoted admirer of Blahnik’s.
Sex and the City first aired on TV in 1998 and Sarah Jessica Parker was cast to play Carrie Bradshaw, Candace Bushnell’s alter ego. Fashion was everywhere in the series and brand and designer name-dropping abounded, but the relationship between Carrie and her Manolos could only be described as true devotion.
Blahnik himself has acknowledged that he knew his business was flourishing in the 90s, although not enough to become a household name, saying: “It never occurred to me that something like that could happen”. The series had such an impact that in the year 2000 the brand sold 30,000 pairs of shoes at Neiman Marcus alone.
Still itching to know more? In our next post we will be breaking down some of the most emblematic appearances of Carri Bradshaw’s Manolos in the series, as well as their leap onto the big screen. In fact, we have the first Sex and the City film to thank for Blahnik’s most iconic pair of shoes.
Want to know which? Find out in our next post!