Manolo Blahnik to open boutique in Palais-Royal
Manolo Blahnik will open a boutique in Palais-Royal, establishing a personal retail presence in Paris this fall. "There was only one place that I wanted to be in Paris – Palais-Royal. It’s the one place in this city where I immediately felt welcome," enthused the legendary shoe designer.
He made his first visit to the famed 1st arrondissement square back nearly 60 years ago when he drove with friends from Geneva to Paris in a Citroën 2 Chevaux to see a film: Dommage qu’elle soit une putain, starring Alain Delon and Romy Schneider.
"I cannot quite remember exactly when, but it was the year that movie came out," smiled 76-year-old Blahnik, over coffee in the Ritz Hotel in Paris. The movie was released in 1961.
The now store shall open in September at 12 rue Montpensier, in a building that dates from 1782, on the west side of the elegant colonnaded garden of Palais-Royal, close to Didier Ludot, the most famous vintage store in the French capital.
"We’ll have a permanent home inside Palais-Royal, which is divine," exclaimed Manolo, as he is almost universally known.
Located just north of the Louvre, the elegant square and garden of the Palais-Royal already boasts such notable marques as Stella McCartney, Rick Owens, Pierre Hardy, Joyce Gallery and Serge Lutens. The neighbourhood has become something of a destination for high-end shoe lovers. 200 yards away, is located the debut store of Christian Louboutin; while happening Italian shoe designer Francesco Rosi has a new boutique just east of the Palais-Royal.
"I don’t like Avenue Montaigne, too expensive. I like somewhere a little funny, just like in London," said the notoriously dapper Blahnik, attired in an eggshell blue windowpane Anderson & Sheppard double-breasted suit.
Manolo has a flagship on the somewhat obscure Old Church Street in Chelsea, and opened stores in Burlington Arcade, London and in Geneva – where he once studied law – last year. Décor wise expect his Palais-Royal space to be a blend of high English chintz, arty eccentricity and polished chic, just like all his stores.
Famed for his opulent style; and for a rare ability to mingle contrasting fabrics; lace; buckles; metals; brocade and Spanish tassels, a riff on his native Canary Islands. He still owns his own business, and retails in over 300 stores in some 35 countries.
Though his design studio is in Milan, and he produces all his footwear in Italy, Manolo resides in Bath, in a Georgian townhouse that he acquired in 1981 and which contains 10,000 pairs of shoes.
Known for his marvellous eye for spotting happening new talent, he has collaborated with everyone from John Galliano to London’s best contemporary menswear designer Grace Wales Bonner.
"She has a-wonderful vision for such a young person. I’m an old boy. Prehistoric really. But let me finish, my story, we drove all day to see that movie, and we then went to Palais-Royal. But I feel very ambivalent today, because when we went to the site it was all boarded up! And, I am really worried about Brexit. Because, we have no idea what is exactly going to happen," sighed Blahnik, the scion of a Czech father and Spanish mother, who travels on a Spanish passport.
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