Manolo Blahnik is secretive about how the Carolyne pump, a chic slingback with an almond toe and a mid-heel, evolved into what he refers to as a “eternal shoe.” In the 35th year of the Carolyne, he tells British Vogue, “It’s a comfy shoe, a shoe that has no time — no matter what you do, it will always look modern.” Members of the royal family, First Ladies, and Manolo aficionados all heartily concur with this sentiment. Although Selena Gomez, Ashley Olsen, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, the Duchess of Sussex, and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy have all donned the elegant shoes, Blahnik claims he never meant for the Carolyne to become a house signature.
The well-liked shoemaker says, “I don’t have sentiments about these things, I don’t have a clue – I don’t plan things like that. I’m more concerned with the art of women’s footwear than my legacy. “I create shoes, and certain styles are more well-liked than others. Every conceivable material, colour, and heel height are available with the Carolyne, and it consistently sells.
Three and a half decades ago, Blahnik combined the modernism and immaculate taste of fashion icons Carolina Herrera and designer, essayist, and artist Carolyne Roehm into a chic shoe that says a lot about the wearer’s lifestyle. According to Blahnik, his professional lady muse, “Carolyne Roehm is a really lovely woman and an amazing customer who fascinated me into making a shoe that would remain ageless, like her.”
Manolo, who began as a set designer before focusing completely on shoes in 1970 at Diana Vreeland’s urging, is unconcerned by the fact that the slingback hasn’t always been popular and may even seem out of place with the sculptural heels currently being produced by the next generation of shoemakers. It gained popularity in the 1930s, and because I loved how effortless it was, I originally created it in a caramel-colored crocodile leather. From there, everything developed naturally.
Currently, the £550 leg-lengthening Carolyne is offered in a variety of traditional calfskin leathers and bridal hues, with seasonal upgrades to please clients. Consider delicate beaded embellishments across the toe, sheer polka dot overlays, and elaborate floral appliqué. To offer optimal comfort for its on-the-go wearers, the rear strap is always left plain with an elastic inlay and comes in three different heel heights: 50mm, 70mm, and 105mm.
What ingredients go into creating a “eternal shoe”? The shoe maestro, who just always appears to have the magic touch, claims that the elements can’t be reduced to a straightforward recipe for success. “A classic is a shoe that ladies wear constantly and without exception. One of my many timeless pieces is the graceful Carolyne. Who cares about counting birthdays when you’re this quietly fabulous? She may have turned 35.
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