Manolo Blahnik Celebrates 50 Years With High Tea at the Carlyle

On Wednesday, Manolo Blahnik celebrated their 50th anniversary with an intimate soirée at the Carlyle. Inside the famed hotel’s Dowling’s restaurant, guests were greeted with champagne before nestling into the cozy space, comfortable and reminiscent of a friend’s home, for high tea on a brisk fall afternoon. 

That same feeling of familiarity and ease is something the Spanish designer has spent the last five decades hoping to achieve amongst his clientele. “If you could come into the shop and have a good time, [Manolo Blahnik]’s really happy. The shop on Madison Avenue is the biggest we have, but he wants it to feel like a living room, and if you happen to fall in love with a pair of shoes, that’s fabulous,” Andrew Wright, President and CCO of Manolo Blahnik explained.

The afternoon anniversary event drew friends of the brand, old and new, who gathered to celebrate the momentous occasion. Sandra Bernhard, Erinn Westbrook, Veronica Webb, Julia Schlaepfer, Jacquelyn Jablonski, Eniko Mihilk, Melodie Monrose, Amy Fine Collins, Jihae Kim, and Nicky Hilton Rothschild mingled as the minds at Manolo Blahnik unveiled fifty years of awe-inspiring design in the form of a digital archive entitled “A New Way of Walking.” 

Top left: Valerie Macaulay, Elizabeth Kurpis, Lili Buffett, and Erinn Westbrook; Top right: Jacquelyn Jablonski and Brianna Lance; Bottom left: Nicky Hilton.

As guests tucked into artfully arranged displays of finger sandwiches, scones, and macarons, Wright waxed poetic about Blahnik’s creative genius while showcasing how users can glide through five virtual rooms in the archive to observe the brilliance of Blahnik’s creations in digital form. The room filled with anecdotes about Blahnik, like his process behind designing the footwear for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. It was not a matter of designing for film, but “as if Marie Antoinette walked into his shop, on Old Church Street and said, ‘I want a fabulous pair of shoes. Design them for me!’’’ to illustrate the dedication the man has to his craft. 

Manolo is an artist first, Wright told me, “it could have equally been painting, it could have been sculpture, it could have been architecture, but all of those elements are in his shoes, if you think about it.” While Blahnik himself owns somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 pairs of shoes, within the digital showcase you’ll find original sketches of the designer’s most precious pieces, including some never before seen like selections from a new shoppable gold capsule collection to commemorate the brand’s anniversary.

Top right: Krysta Rodriguez and Andrew Wright; Top center: Zachary Weiss; Bottom left Andrew Wright; Bottom right: Melodie Monrose.Photograph by Milton Arellano. 

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