Few people can boast their street has a Manolo Blahnik store, and the original at that. For almost 50 years, the inimitable shoe designer’s first retail premises have stood at 49–51 Old Church Street, and it’s a place of dreams and legend.
When Manolo first came to London in 1969, the building was the home to fashion brand Zapata, to which the young creative sold his first designs. His success was rapid and spectacular, creating shoes for fashion luminaries Ossie Clark, Jean Muir, and Zandra Rhodes.
In 1971, Blahnik decided to buy the Chelsea property and launch his eponymous brand. Those early years were a magical period. Manolo never left his shop, and it became like a private club. Drawn by the designer’s magnetic personality, the beautiful and famous would drop in just to hang out. Marianne Faithfull, Bianca Jagger, Paloma Picasso, David Bowie, Rupert Everett, and David Hockney were regular customers.
Today, Manolo Blahnik continues to be the must-have shoe label for models, film stars, fashion editors, and all discerning women the world over. And, while the brand now has 17 flagship stores globally, Manolo is very much in touch with his roots; the Old Church Street boutique remains the creative heart of the empire. With such a heritage, it’s hard to imagine a finer neighbour, especially when a new pair of heels are required.