Footwear icon Manolo Blahnik doesn't get the whole infatuation with celebrity fashion, but he loves the magic a fantastic wardrobe can bring to a movie. That, he says, is why he is so pleased to be the next honoree on the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style in Beverly Hills, Calif.
"It's a great honor for me to have a place in Los Angeles and in Hollywood — for people here to see what I do," Blahnik says. "I've supplied shoes for millions of movies, but I have designed specifically for only two or three. I feel like I don't deserve this but I feel it's wonderful to be in the company of people like Madame Milena Canonero."
Canonero, a costume designer, was a previous recipient of the Walk of Style award that Blahnik was receiving Thursday, securing a permanent plaque on the sidewalk at intersection of Rodeo Drive and Dayton Way. Blahnik and Canonero were collaborators on the 2006 film "Marie Antoinette."
There's a scene when several women are getting dressed up for an event and they all look at their feet — and their beautiful shoes, recalls Peri Ellen Berne, the Walk of Style event co-chair. "That was truly eye candy."
Honorees are chosen for their life body of work, including contributions the worlds of fashion and entertainment, Berne says.
"Manolo was a natural, really," Berne says. "His designs have been all over the place — on celebrities and the people who covet them. He has an amazing balance between sexy and elegance that makes his shoes very distinctive."
Manolos have grown so much in popularity that the nickname for Blahnik's label is a synonym for a sexy, stylish shoe. Fashion designers and other industry insiders have long partnered with Blahnik and seen the value in dressing a woman head to toe; "Sex and the City" did a lot to introduce his stilettos to the rest of the country.
That whole designer-denim craze a few years ago? Berne says Blahnik, not any specific denim label, fueled it.
"Shoes really make an outfit. A woman can wear a T-shirt from any place — a Target to American Apparel to any brand you think of — with a pair of jeans, whether she spent $500 or bought 501s, but you put a pair of Manolos on and the outfit is chic," she says.
Even with his success, Blahnik still is the one to finalize each style that carries his label. His ideas, he says, comes from "a museum, an exquisite movie like `Romeo and Juliet,' special moments, conversations, the pages of a book, a beautiful setting — anything."
"I adore my work," Blahnik says during a telephone interview. "I have a passion for what I do. I may be pretentious when I say this, but my work represents my passions."
His newest favorite silhouette is flats because they pose a great challenge to women — and a great payoff.
"It's much more difficult to be beautiful and walk femininely in flats. (Brigitte) Bardot in France did it and Audrey Hepburn in America. They looked fantastic and walked like tigers, beautiful and graceful, but you can walk like a beach bum in them, then they don't look so good."
Flip-flops do get his seal of approval — if you have well-cared-for feet. He is not, however, a fan of "hideous" platforms. "But, you know what?" he adds. "I love any kind of shoe as long as the right person is wearing them."