An Insider’s Account of Manolo Blahnik

“I was in charge of New Man jeans,” said Mr. Blahnik, nattily attired in a bespoke vanilla linen suit, sky blue and white striped knit tie, and saddle shoes. “They had jeans in the most beautiful acid green denim. I bought them.”

Mr. Roberts, 69, who was dressed in a faded navy raincoat, blue plaid Gap pajama pants, and saddle shoes, said, “And I bought them in orange.”


Manolo Blahnik became a household name in the 1990s thanks to the TV show “Sex and the City.”

Lauren Fleishman for The New York Times

Later they teamed up for a fashion collaboration in the 1980s.

“What did we call that collection?” Mr. Blahnik asked. “The Greek collection?”

“Yes,” Mr. Roberts said.

“And we were wearing it in the streets of ——”

“Chelsea,” Mr. Roberts said. “Lemon yellow crepe de Chine tunics, with cord belts. And we were walking around the back streets of Chelsea, trying to get a cab. And of course, no one would stop, because I was wearing the tunic, and my hair was dyed shocking pink, and I had no eyebrows.”

“That’s right!” Mr. Blahnik said. “You didn’t have eyebrows at all. How awful that was. It was horrific.”

“It wasn’t horrific.”

“It was horrific, Michael,” Mr. Blahnik said. “You looked like you were in Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis.’”

When Mr. Blahnik started making shoes (the idea came from Diana Vreeland, then the head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute), the fashion editor Grace Coddington became a fan, and, he said, she put him in British Vogue “all the time, with pictures by Norman Parkinson and the model Apollonia.”

“That was a major moment for you,” Mr. Roberts said. “The things you were doing back then. Bottines — nobody was doing bottines. And mules.”

“We still do mules.”

By the 1990s Mr. Blahnik had become a household name in the United States thanks to the TV show “Sex and the City,” whose Carrie Bradshaw character (Sarah Jessica Parker) wore “Manolos” religiously. Mr. Roberts at the time was the first fashion director of The New Yorker, where one of his jobs was working with the notoriously picky photographer Irving Penn.


Details inside the Manolo Blahnik headquarters.

Lauren Fleishman for The New York Times …

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