MANOLO: THE BOY WHO MADE SHOES FOR LIZARDS Review
MANOLO Blahnik Documentary Review
There’s just something about a pair of sexy stilettos on woman’s stems. The panache is indefinable, in spite of many psychological and social experiments proving it’s true: high heels are just freaking hot.
There are no hotter high heels than a pair of Manolos. Iconic looks, a sense of playfulness, breathtaking heights, and a killer price have kept these kicks in the forefront of fashion and pop culture for decades. Becoming an upscale household name through TV shows like Sex and the City and never-ending celebrity endorsements, Manolo Blahnik has become one of the most influential shoe designers of all time. But unless you’re an haute couture insider, you may not know much about Manolo himself… the man behind the brand.
Now there’s a movie offering a quick brush-stroke portrait of the legendary designer and a peek at how his extraordinary dedication to his craft led him to become the world’s most famous luxury shoemaker. There’s not much about his personal life beyond the veneer of glitz and glam; we never learn how he felt or feels about certain things. (But it’s clear Manolo is loved and has had loyal friends for decades, so that says something about his character in a roundabout way.)
The flick starts at the start, using recreations to show Manolo’s early obsession with footwear. Growing up on a remote Spanish Canary island, the boy made shoes out of chocolate wrappers for the lizards that he caught in his family’s garden. We see how he endeavored to open his first store in London in 1973 (hanging with the likes of Mary Quant and Bianca Jagger), and then his splashy debut in fashion capitals such as Paris and New York (his shoes have graced many a catwalk). Manolo now has shops and department store concessions in over 20 countries and retains full control of the business, still creating every shoe, and even hand-carving the wooden forms himself. He’s truly a hands-on foot guy!
Director and longtime fashion journalist Michael Roberts makes his film debut here, blending recreations, animations, archive footage and new interviews with Manolo himself plus luminaries of fashion and entertainment including Anna Wintour, Rihanna, Paloma Picasso, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Rupert Everett, Karlie Kloss, Isaac Mizrahi, and André Leon Talley.
Anyone who loves the history of fashion – the doc presents archival video from swinging London to gritty 1980s Paris, and everyplace in-between – will enjoy aspects of this film. However, it often feels, er, cobbled together and is at times uneven. Many moments – candid banter, and a static book-signing event – would have benefited greatly from leaner editing. Still, I learned a lot (and drooled a lot – those SHOES!) so if you enjoy this sort of thing, step up and check out Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards.
1 Hour 39 Minutes