SR International: Manolo Blahnik Talks Elvis, His Road To Recovery, The Pandemic, And More

SR International: Manolo Blahnik Talks Elvis, His Road To Recovery, The Pandemic, And More

“My dogs are my life,” says Manolo Blahnik. The footwear designer, 79, has nine of them. Right now, he’s at his home on Spain’s Canary Islands, recovering from a fall down the stairs he had at Christmas. Though he doesn’t relish the physical therapy that’s become part of his routine, Manolo Blahnik, whose net worth is reported to be allegedly $200 million, says he’s nonetheless been “absolutely in heaven” getting to spend so much time with his dogs.

“I have now with me, sleeping and having a dream, Bologna, my dog,” he says. “I just have this most beautiful labrador with me all the time. She had six puppies about a year ago. Then I have the old husband of Bologna, Romano. Then I have one called Gwendolyn.”

Photo: MISAN HARRIMAN Courtesy of WSJ. Magazine

Normally, Blahnik alternates between the Canary Islands, his residences in England (in London and in Bath), and Milan, where he stays at the Four Seasons and visits his factory, which is about an hour outside the city. He’s especially keen to get back to the latter, which his doctor says he’ll be able to do in the fall. In the meantime, Blahnik has been designing shoes for the Elvis movie; taking cold showers in order to feel “fresh as a daisy;” and reading as much as humanly possible. Here, he speaks to WSJ. about all of that and more.

Here are some things Manolo Blahnik revealed to WSJ. Magazine…

On not being a morning person:

I’m not a morning person. I’m a night person. I work. I sleep from maybe 9 o’clock at night to maybe 2 a.m., then I wake up. It’s just a habit. I work till 8 or 9 in the morning, so I’m just not like everybody in the way I do my mornings, because it’s like my mornings are a continuation of my night.

On whether he has a trick to getting dressed in the morning:

No, I have this incredible military habit: This month, I’m going to wear this. Tweed. Depends on the cycles: winter, autumn. “This month, I’m going to wear tweed. Tweed, tweed.” I don’t really spend time thinking about what I’m going to wear. Manolo Blahnik Net Worth

On his design process:

I have my ideas at night and sometimes even when I’m sleeping. I dream of something, and I have a little pencil and paper next to my head. If I have an idea, boom, I put it there. Then I develop that idea. Maybe it’s terrible, maybe it’s horrible, and then sometimes, something comes out which I like tremendously and I think, Oh, that is kind of new.

I’m a terrible judge of my work, myself. If I have an idea, I’d say, I want to do a collection based on—let’s say I’ve been to St. Petersburg and I just see some divine things in the most beautiful museums in the world, and I just get ideas like that all the time. Then I develop it. When I sit down, I think about that and something came out. Sometimes it doesn’t, but sometimes it does, actually.

On his well-documented love of bathing:

Oh, my God, I have it as soon as I wake up. I mean, I wake up, as I say, waking up is a continuation of the night—I have to just wake up and work. So about 8 a.m., I just had a huge shower, very cold shower. Not even semi-hot, no. Just cold. Then [I’m] just absolutely fresh as a daisy, all the time. In the summer, it’s very hot. I have a shower next to my office. I just go in there, jump in, I come back and then I can go on and on and on.

On being maniacal about his grooming:

I love [being] incredibly well-groomed. My body has to be absolutely the best I can. The nails have to be perfection, the toenails. Everything has got to be perfect. I’m sorry, that is the only thing about me, being kind of a maniac about it.

On the “torture” of these past two and a half years of the Covid pandemic:

These two years and a half have been absolutely torture, doing this work only on Zoom. Sometimes I spend seven hours a day on Zoom, which is very exhausting. Why I’m here right now is because I’ve just recovered from this fall. That’s what I’m doing now, taking care of my health. I used to do exercise, not anymore. I haven’t done exercise for years, and I hate to do it. I have the [physical] therapy, which drives me crazy. I do it three or four times a week. I used to be much more of a warrior, but I still have kept my energy and the desire to do things. I’m totally dedicated to what I do: my dogs, my work, and nothing else. You’re not supposed to say that, but [it] is the truth.

On designing shoes for the Elvis movie:

I’ve done a few things with [costume designer] Catherine Martin and Baz Luhrmann. They asked me to do the Elvis thing, so I said, “OK, why not?” I love Elvis. When I was a child, I used to read about Elvis in magazines. I was just 11 or 12 and…the two people I loved very much were James Dean and Elvis Presley, so imagine how old I feel now when I say that. Nobody cares about Elvis or James Dean. They don’t even know who that is. Maybe some, but not young people. [Laughs]

On what he does to relax:

I’m a voracious reader. I’m a nonstop reading person. Even when I go to the bathroom…. I don’t know, I just don’t waste time at all. I just need something in my hands all the time.

When I read, I just get into the page. I don’t know what’s going on in the world…. I really, really, really need something [so] I forget about these horrible modern times that we have now.

On the one piece of advice he’s gotten that’s guided him:

I remember the best advice I was given once years ago, my God, it’s too many years ago. I went to see a show by Luchino Visconti, the director. I said stupidly in French, “Monsieur Visconti, why did you always film thinking about the past and things?” Which is not true. But he said to me, “Without the past, we are nothing, but with fantasy we are free.” And I just keep thinking of it. Manolo Blahnik Net Worth

Read the full article here.

Photo: MISAN HARRIMAN Courtesy of WSJ. Magazine

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