Images by Drew Altizer Photography
Fashion fans were front and center at Neiman Marcus in Union Square last weekend as style icon Andre Leon Talley discussed the business of beautiful shoes with Manolo Blahnik CEO and President, George Malkemus. The fabulously fierce twosome were all smiles as they dished on their relationship with the Spanish designer, sharing candid stories about his life and career while emphasizing the unquestionable influence his eponymous label has made on the style world.
Andre Leon Talley made his mark in the fashion industry working in high profile positions for a number of publications, but is most renowned for serving as the former editor-at-large for Vogue magazine. A celebrated figure of the fashion community and staple in the front row of the most sought after runway shows, Talley is known for his impeccable taste, larger-than-life personality and for his consummate candor about all things fashion.
His lively and energetic attitude was on full display last Saturday when talking about ‘dear friend’ Manolo Blahnik, detailing how they first became acquainted while working with famed editor and style icon Diana Vreeland in the early 1970’s. Speaking on how Blahnik’s talent was apparent even during that time, Talley said, ‘Mrs. Vreeland saw the elegance of the line of his shoes. She could see that he designed his shoes down to the millimeter of perfection.’ George Malkemus, current President and CEO of Manolo Blahnik, has worked with the company for more than 30 years and was also on hand to discuss the designer’s career. Gushing that he fell in love with Blahnik’s designs the first time he laid eyes on them, he called Blahnik’s shoes ‘extremely elegant, timeless and light’. He also noted that while they are certainly a luxury item, they remain a practical purchase for fact that, ‘A woman can buy a pair of Manolo Blahniks today and wear them forever’.
The event was a remarkable moment for San Francisco’s fashion enthusiasts, affording a chance to hear industry’s elite discussing the life and legacy of one of the most treasured designers in the world. The audience, made up of an eclectic mix of fashionistas, shoe enthusiasts and aspiring designers, was excited to find out about the man behind the brand. When one fashion student inquired about where Blahnik found his inspiration, Malkemus said that while the shoe designer was known to find his creative motivation ‘anywhere and everywhere’, he was also a huge film buff who is constantly inspired by Hollywood. He cited examples including Brigit Bardot, the inspiration behind the iconic Blahnik ‘BB’ pump, one of the brands all-time best sellers; as well as Sarah Jessica Parker, who made the brand a household name in the late 90s and early 2000s as Carrie Bradshaw’s character on sex and The City.
Even years later Manolo Blahnik’s influence on the fashion world remains strong, as evidenced by the fact that his shoes are still featured regularly in fashion magazines worldwide, including Vogue magazine, the most prominent fashion publication in the world. A fact on which Andre Leon Talley appropriately commented, ‘Vogue selects the very best and Manolo Blahnik is the best’.