Manolo Blahnik takes inspiration from fashion history for its latest spring-summer 2021 collection

Inspiration, as designers often like to say, can come from any source—a walk down a garden path, the curves of the human body, or the visuals of a museum art piece. One less often-cited source of inspiration, however, comes from fellow designer peers, whose works can influence and define an entire fashion era. It is to those peers, and other historical sources of inspiration, that venerated shoe designer Manolo Blahnik looked to when conceiving his latest spring-summer collection. After all, creativity cannot happen in a vacuum.

Blahnik’s latest creations draw from the likes of radical 20th-century fashion and interior designer Paul Poiret, as well as exalted French fashion designers Madeleine Vionnet and Marie-Louise Carven, also known as Madame Carven, all of whom created innovative designs that revolutionised the fashion industry during their time. He was also animated by the modern art deco creations of Irish architect and furniture designer Eileen Gray, as well as Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne and his signature armour-like chainmail dresses.

The result of these diverse sources of inspiration is an enviable collection of contemporary shoes—heels, mules, sandals, and flats alike—that highlights the genius of these epoch-defining designers as well as the allure of bygone eras.

(Related: Manolo Blahnik x Castaner: An Unlikely Shoe Collab?)

Step by Step

How Manolo Blahnik turned historical sources of inspiration into elegant footwear

Vibota cotton Mary Jane pumps
Florals are perhaps the most feminine and widely used motifs in fashion prints, and Liberty is one brand that does them better than any other. The UK-based brand has been creating its signature microfloral prints since the 1920s, and is known the world over for its aesthetic. This season, Manolo Blahnik partnered Liberty to create shoes with iconic floral prints. The resulting pumps are retro, fun and feminine at the same time. 

Calydon slingback heels
Marie-Louise Carven was instrumental in shaping French fashion in the post-World War II era. Her biggest contribution came in 1950, when she, alongside Jacques Fath and Pierre Balmain, became one of the first couturiers to develop prêt-à-porter collections to make fashion more accessible. Her iconic structured black-and-white garments with looping braids and tailored detailing have now been reinterpreted by Blahnik in the form of structured pumps and flats in the same monochromatic palette.

Tatler Asia
Above Aniceto suede cut-out boots

Aniceto suede cut-out boots
Paul Poiret’s worldliness and forward-thinking philosophy resulted in him becoming the first French couturier to draw from other cultures to conceptualise his designs, creating Turkish‑inspired harem pants and Japanese kimono-style wraps in the 1900s. Today, Blahnik has reinterpreted that bold take on colour, volume and shape to create footwear with new silhouettes and contours. These pieces have contrasting amoeba-like prints and wavy applique detailing, as well as serrated edges that hark back to the hems of Poiret’s designs.

Notamu ruched satin sliders
French fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet was known for her inventiveness in fashion design, particularly in the cut and construction of her garments. She is credited, for example, with revolutionising the bias cut by being the first to create entire pieces using the technique, rather than just specific portions. For this season, Blahnik drew inspiration from her refined designs and created pieces that highlighted her signature use of pleating and draping.

Ericbi kid suede tassel loafers
The art created on the silver screen often resonates through the ages. Actor Gary Cooper, famous for his roles in films from the 1940s and ’50s, remains one of Blahnik’s favourite actors to this day. In honour of the American thespian, who often took on movie roles that championed the common man, Blahnik created the Ericbi loafers. The bright contrasting blue kid suede and red braided leather trim and tassels reflect Cooper’s colourful personality and lifestyle.

Manolo Blahnik | B1-80A The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands | 6688 7238