The last time legendary shoe designer Manolo Blahnik opened a store it was 1972 and fashion was embracing maxi dresses, knee socks and Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust alter ego in a big way. The Chelsea flagship still remains at 49-51 Old Church Street, but some 44 years later Blahnik has decided to open a second store – right in the heart of Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade.
The new bijoux, double fronted space measures in at 1,000 sq ft and houses both men’s and women’s shoes, as well as the recently launched handbag collection. The interior is awash with delicate design touches. Here, shelves lined with soft grey-coloured pony skin are offset with candy-coloured ottomans and silk lamps. Blahnik’s love of the classical period can be seen in the Corinthian columns, which support walls throughout the space as well as the oversized mirrors. There is also a private room on the top floor where special orders for customised pieces are taken.
At the opening bash earlier this month, guests including historian Mary Beard, model Yasmin Le Bon and fashion director Michael Roberts mingled with a chic, Manolo-touting fashion crowd. During the event, Vogue’s international editor Suzy Menkes staged an interview with the designer, who true to form, was dressed in a dapper lilac-coloured suit and natty bow tie.
Burlington Arcade has been undergoing quite a revival lately, with brands such as Chanel and Frederic Malle all taking up residence. In total, the building houses around 40 boutiques and it is clear to see that Blahnik is delighted with his new home and neighbours. Built in the 19th Century by British architect Jamie Forbert, the arcade has always been one of his favourite London landmarks.
“I have adored the Burlington Arcade from my very first visit to London as a teenager,” he says. “It has that intimate feeling and one always feels welcome, especially when the Beadles greet you at the entrance. It is an elegant place with history and tradition and the shops that occupy it share the same qualities as I find essential in beautiful handmade products. Honestly, I could not think of a better place to be”, says the shoe maestro. And neither could we!