On 10th June 2019, the Wallace Collection and Manolo Blahnik opened the new An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection exhibition celebrating some of the world-famous footwear designer’s most coveted work. It will feature a personally selected edit of shoe designs from Blahnik’s private archives set amongst the masterpieces of the Wallace Collection.

With a career spanning almost 50 years, Blahnik is one of the world’s most influential footwear designers and is held in high regard by fashionistas across the globe. Blahnik was born in Santa Cruz de La Palma to a Czech father and Spanish mother. In an interview with the Spanish Tourist Office, he revealed that fond memories of sitting with his mother while she read him poetry of Garcia Lorca in their quaint Canarian garden have had a major influence on his work and designs. To this day he still travels to Milan every season with sketches of his latest work, which are then transformed into prototypes with exquisitely shaped lasts and heels made with his bare hands. Such dedication to his passion has seen Blahnik recently recognised as an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) awarded by Her Majesty The Queen. He has also written and published a number of books, the most recent of which is The Art of Shoes with Rizzoli (2017).

An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection aims to celebrate his half-century of life’s work and give an unprecedented exploration into his creative processes. The exhibition places Blahnik’s designs in the intimate context of the Wallace Collection alongside the paintings, sculptures and furniture that inspired his enquiring mind, leading to a dialogue between the old and the new, the art and the craft, the real and the fantasy. Each room explores a particular theme associated with Blahnik’s work, demonstrating his thirst for knowledge and the wide ranging influences upon his designs. Visitors are taken on a journey through Blahnik’s imagination, spanning the theatre and spectacle of the Commedia dell’arte, the fashions inspired by Blahnik’s native Spain, 18th-century Rococo style, his own personal interpretation of Englishness and much more.

The full range of Blahnik’s work is on display, from the candy-coloured shoes designed for Sofia Coppola’s award-winning film, Marie Antoinette, to his carefully worked, jewel-encrusted shoes which reflect the diamond-mounted gold boxes and delicately painted miniatures of the Wallace Collection’s Boudoir Cabinet. Alongside the exhibition, a series of panel talks further explore the themes that permeate Manolo Blahnik’s designs and the works contained within the Wallace Collection.

The exhibition will be running until 1 September 2019 and admission is free.


Image credit © The Wallace Collection

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