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Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 17, 2020

Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards


Featuring Manolo Blahnik, Rick Kissack, River Hawkins, Gala Gordon, Isabeli Fontana, Eva Herzigova, Anna Wintour, Rihanna, Paloma Picasso, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Rupert Everett, Karlie Kloss, Isaac Mizrahi and André Leon Tally.

Directed by Michael Roberts.

Distributed by Music Box Films. 89 minutes. Not Rated.

I just spent my evening with Manolo Blahnik and his fashionable admirers. Clearly not in person – not with my clogs and sneakers and inability to wear heels – but on the screen, where Manolo’s enchanting recount of his story and friendships and passions has made an otherwise cranky day of headlines a bit more bearable. I spent the evening with Anna Wintour, Paloma Picasso, Iman, Rupert Everett, André Leon Tally; googling more information about the beautiful Bianca Jagger, John Galliano’s 1994 fashion show at the Shlumberger mansion and the “Agatha” shoe.

I have a secret.  I have watched countless seasons of America’s Next Top Model and can recite line after line from The Devil Wears Prada. I audibly gasped with glee seeing André Leon Tally throughout this film. Although I’ve never actually held a Manolo Blahnik pump, I get the pop culture surrounding them and enjoyed getting to know the iconic “cobbler” through this 89-minute documentary, directed by Michael Roberts.

Manolo is described by his friends as unique, with a true sense of himself. He was raised in the Canary Islands by an inventive mother and regimented multi-lingual father. His love of gardens and beauty were ingrained from his childhood and flourished into his adulthood. He spent his pocket money on fashion magazines.

In his early twenties, after a failed first job at the UN, he moved to Paris, where he befriended Paloma Picasso. They both moved to London in 1971 where fashion was emerging for the first time outside of Paris. He spent time working at the Feathers Boutique, where multi-lingual Manolo was known for his charisma, eagerness and outgoing nature. Paloma then introduced Manolo to Diana Vreeland, editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine in New York, who, when shown his drawings, encouraged Manolo to “concentrate on the shoes.”

Manolo is a man who seems to bring light and art into people’s lives – from his friends to his customers. He has a passion for life and it flows easily into his work. His shoes seem to possess a quality of comfort that seems impossible for a pump or kitten heel, yet every person speaks of it so it must be true.

Watch this for the chipper a-cappella shoe montages (I actually made my daughter share the joy and watch the first montage with me for a second time!). Watch this for the touching montage of his three now deceased friends, Anna Piaggi, Isabella Blow and Tina Chow. Watch this for references to Sex and the City and Marie Antoinette, for which he created 23 pairs of shoes fit for a queen.

This documentary is like candy, something sweet to get you through a hard day. People interested in fashion and pop culture will love the who’s who of the fashion scene from the 70’s to present day – Manolo Blahnik’s shoes have weathered trends and he has collaborated with the best of the industry. While this documentary likely won’t inspire most to change the world, it will amuse, entertain and show you the unapologetic life of a man living his life with passion for his work, appreciating the beauty of his world and craft.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: September 29, 2017.

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