Beloved by stars from Princess Diana to Rihanna. Immortalized by “Sex and the City.” Dubbed “a legend” by Anna Wintour. There’s good reason Naomi Campbell calls Manolo Blahnik the “king of shoes” in “Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards” — a new documentary (out this week) about the designer’s life. As Blahnik steps into the spotlight, he shares with Alexa some of the highlights from his decades keeping the fashion world on its toes.
You’ve said you were so nervous in your first meeting with Vogue editor Diana Vreeland that you went mute. Has anyone made you so star-struck since?
No. You know something? I was born with the incredible gift of not being impressed by anyone or anything.
Not even Anna Wintour intimidates you?
Oh, I’ve known her for a hundred years. I mean, a long time in London, before she came to America. And it was always admiration. She has two things in life that I love: loyalty and intelligence. And taste. I adore her.
She calls you a legend.
I see myself as a man who loves what he does, and that’s it. I don’t have a clue about legends or legacies.
Speaking of legendary, Princess Diana famously wore your black pumps with her “Revenge Dress” in 1994.
Oh, Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales was one of my dream customers. So normal that she sat in the office on the floor, trying on shoes. She was that human. Very, very sweet. I was fortunate and privileged to have served her. It was an incredible period in fashion.
The documentary brings up questions of your sexuality. Nothing was off limits?
I’m open. And you know something? Sex is not that important to me. Never was. Never will be. It’s fantastic, yes. But I find other things in life that get me more excited than that. For instance, staying at home and reading, or my dogs. I love beauty. Don’t get me wrong.
You’re 74 and tireless — what’s your secret?
I was born with that kind of energy. And I will be able to stop, possibly, when I drop dead. But, you know, I love work. And my life is that one thing: work.
After 50 years in fashion, you’re still collaborating with cutting-edge designers.
I was asked to work with Rihanna, and I said yes immediately! I love what she sings. I love what she represents. She’s so divine. And then those boys [Vetements designers Demna and Guram Gvasalia] asked me, “Do you want to work with us?” I said, “Yes! Let’s do it.” Now I’m working with an extraordinary young English woman…