Cinematic footwear: Manolo Blahnik and Sex and the City (II)
In our last post we took a look back at Manolo Blahnik’s unstoppable rise to fame and the part that Sex and the City played in making the designer a household name. Now it is time to explore the brand’s appearances on screen!
Manolo Blahniks in Sex and the City
We would perhaps be exaggerating if we said that Carrie Bradshaw’s greatest love story in the series and films was with her Manolo Blahniks, but they did play a starring role. Entire storylines, reflections on women’s power, life and love, and even important plot climaxes revolve around the character’s coveted Manolos.
For example, in “What Goes Around Comes Around”, Carrie is mugged at gunpoint and her baguette, watch and ring are stolen. Most devastatingly, though, she’s forced to relinquish her “favourite pair”: her strappy Manolo Blahnik sandals. Following the incident, the character reflects on their worth beyond money (footwear is so much more) and what they symbolise: single women’s financial and social freedom at the end of the 20th century.
Equally representative is “A Woman’s Right to Shoes”, whose storyline puts Carrie Bradshaw’s footwear front and centre; in this case, her Manolo Blahnik Sedaraby d’Orsays. Carrie shows up to her friend’s baby shower wearing them but the hostess asks her to take them off before stepping inside. Someone swipes her shoes during the party yet her friend refuses to pay for them when she hears how much they cost: $485. She even goes so far as to shame Carrie for spending so much on shoes, saying she cannot afford such extravagant items anymore now that she has bills to pay and a family to feed.
To set things straight, Carrie lets her friend know she is planning to marry herself. On her wish list? The missing shoes. To bring her point home she leaves the family a voicemail saying, “I’m registered at Manolo Blahnik. So thanks. Bye”.
In the series finale, Carrie Bradshaw is last seen toting a Manolo Blahnik handbag, but it is actually the films we have to thank for the most iconic pair of Manolos in Sex and the City!
Hangisi: a worldwide success thanks to the films
The first Sex and the City film hit theatres in 2008. At its climax, Carrie Bradshaw’s forever-suitor, Mr Big, proposes with a pair of Manolo Blahniks in lieu of the traditional engagement ring. Naturally, the shoes reached icon status and went on to become one of the brand’s most famous designs.
These were the Hangisis, named after the Turkish word for “Which one?”. As is common for Blahnik, his inspiration can be found in art and history. The idea for the design arose when Blahnik visited an exhibition featuring works by Giovanni Boldini, who painted women of Europe’s high society between the 19th and 20th centuries.
It was the buckles that caught Manolo Blahnik’s attention. The designer had previously drawn inspiration from the Moorish slippers painted by Eugène Delacroix during his trip to Northern Africa, as well as the portraits of Napoleon in which he donned buckled shoes.
The first Hangisis were released in the spring of 2008 in satin pink, black and green. Striking heel aside, the defining feature that truly makes them unique is the sparkling crystal buckle. The pair used in the film are in a ferociously intense cobalt blue, taking care of the “something blue” needed for the wedding.
Hangisis’ resounding success spurred their redesign as boots, d’Orsay pumps and flats, among others. In 2018, to mark the 10th anniversary of the design and the film, Blahnik launched a limited-edition line of Hangisis in exclusive prints hinting at New York City hotspots, such as Central Park, Washington Square Park and even the brand’s own boutique.
Candace Bushnell’s and Patricia Field’s devotion to Manolo Blahnik, embodied on screen as Carrie Bradshaw, took the brand’s shoes from fashion-lovers’ best-kept secret to worldwide success thanks to Sex and the City.
When asked about the shoes’ success, Blahnik once joked that “it’s torture—it’s a horror story. It just goes on and on”. He has also been quoted saying, “I never do things thinking they are going to be iconic. It was just a coincidence”. That could not be further from the truth: his creations are true works of art that draw inspiration from the past and ignite inspiration for the future. Such is the magic of cinema, television… and footwear!