The beauty of having a Netflix subscription cannot be summed up in just one word.
The streaming service is heaven-sent for somebody like me who is really not much of a cinema-goer and I get to discover a ton of documentaries like Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards, which made me appreciate the man whom Carrie Bradshaw adored so much.
I do not care much about stilettos and uncomfortable-looking shoes but I do understand women’s obsession with beautiful shoes (I’m more of a bag hag).
At first I thought of Manolo Blahnik as some guy who doesn’t care about women and their comfort as long as they ooze with sex appeal because one look at some of his creations is enough to make me wince in imagined discomfort and hours of pain.
All of a sudden, women became very insecure about their feet and underwent cosmetic procedures so they won’t look ugly in Manolos (yup, read that in Vogue, almost 20 years ago). I thought it was very sexist.
This documentary somehow softened my opinion of him.
Once upon a time, during the early 2000s when I could barely make ends meet, I bought months-old issues of Vogue that were sold in small magazine shops and at the SM stationery section (when they carried magazines a long time ago) at a deep discount.
I wanted to learn about a world that is far-removed from mine. I reveled in Jeffrey Steingarten’s chronicle of his search for the best sole meuniere in France and steak in Argentina. Vicki Woods’ sojourn in Bali and the magical massages she had there.
But Manolo Blahnik shoes?
They were so alien to me because as I said, I don’t care much about shoes and they cost $1000 a pair.
For someone who only received a salary of P10,000 ($188.50 in the current exchange rate) a month, that was just crazy.
So I tended to skip the articles that featured him or his shoes.
I was not emotionally invested in them, unlike articles that featured Carolina Herrera (who always wore crisp white shirts and tossed them afterwards because they were unable to retain their pristine conditions after one or two spins) or Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, Helmut Lang (suits!), and at some point, Karl Lagerfeld (who spoke several languages but has some sort of disdain for English).
Manolo Blahnik was a mystery, until now.
This documentary showed me how he became enamored of shoes, how he is obsessed with them, how it occupied his life and dictated his work ethic.
He grew up as a very privileged boy in the Canary Islands and moved in the right circles during the heady ’60s and ’70s, bringing him in close contact with the beautiful people of London (Bianca Jagger!) and New York. That was part of his luck and his success.
But then his love for shoes was the driving force for what he is now which in turn was appreciated by women all over the world.
Never mind that they were hideously uncomfortable at the start but he learned how to make his shoes hug women’s feet later on. He worked closely with his employees in his factory.
Shoes are his life. If you are a craftsman or an artist, you would appreciate this documentary. If you are a lover of fashion, you would swoon at the shoes shown here.
I liked the man himself, how quiet and proper he is, despite the seemingly hedonistic life he led during the ’60s-’70s. He is very private. No mention of lovers or how he spends his life outside shoes. His life is very quaint, I should say.
I would be a little bit sad if he dies, even though I don’t own any of his creations. I think I won’t own a pair ever.
(The original version of this piece first appeared in callmecreation.com, the blog of Likha Cuevas-Miel.)
Likha Cuevas-Miel (@likhacuevas on Twitter) is a financial journalist at an international wire service agency.
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