This year marks 50 years since luxury accessories house Manolo Blahnik opened their first boutique on Old Church Street, London in 1971, and 2021 marks the opening of the brand’s flagship on Madison Avenue in New York.
To celebrate the milestone anniversary, the luxury shoemaker has launched a new virtual experience - The Manolo Blahnik Archives ‘A New Way of Walking’. The first virtual exhibition of its kind in a permanent space, the archives are a result of five decades of artisanry, artistry and family values and is set to evolve and grow with the brand.
Curated by exhibition specialist Judith Clark who has worked directly with Manolo, the virtual world spans five ‘rooms’ and celebrated pivotal moments in the Manolo Blahnik story. Bringing together the house’s extraordinary collection of Manolo’s drawings, ‘A New Way of Walking’ reveals the personality, references and stories behind Mr. Blahnik’s designs.
Overseen by Manolo Blahnik CEO Kristina Blahnik, ‘A New Way of Walking’ was 18 months in the making. The virtual exhibition allows users to explore five rooms: The Palette Room The ‘70s Room, Friendships, The Gold Room and Our Family.
'The Palette Room' displays 80 sketches in a spectrum of colour, celebrating Blahnik’s love of colour. “I have approached colour in a bold way, from all angles and variations. I have played with it, always searching for the poetry of an impossible colour” says Blahnik.
'The ‘70s Room' tells the story of the brand’s first decade through a series of film clips, newspaper cuttings unseen portraits and personal photographs. Archival sketches illustrate how the brand has evolved from its early days and the events that shaped the most pivotal decade for the brand.
'Friendships' explores Manolo’s deep connections and lifelong relationships that have shaped the brand’s legacy throughout the last 50 years, from Diana Vreeland to Anna Piaggi and many more.
'The Gold Room' celebrates decadence and excess as it calibrates the most exuberant and exceptional of Manolo’s designs. Exploring the extraordinary craftsmanship of Manolo Blahniks and the designer’s affinity for gold throughout the years, this room also displays the new 50th-anniversary collection, a capsule of lavish, gold styles that are available to purchase from within the exhibition.
The final room, 'Our Family', was created to capture the Manolo Blahnik family over the last 50 years, celebrating and cherishing the individuals who have worked with Manolo and the Blahnik family for over half a century to build one of the most beloved and influential footwear brand in modern history, while remaining a family run business. The room features portraits and personal quotes of individual team members, compiled to form a portrait of Blahnik, shot by British photographer Misan Harriman.
Manolo Blahnik has partnered with the Disability Accessibility centre to ensure that the experience is AA compliant. Taking into consideration those with disabilities and accomodating the use of screen readers, tabbing, pagination, keyboard navigation, transcripts etc. has allowed the exhibition to be widely accessible to an ever-growing and curious audience.