With a casual flourish of his hands, Manolo Blahnik reveals disturbing news: “In the last few days I did, oh, 350 shoes.”
This is a Stakhanovite shoe-output statistic to excite all aficionados of the world’s finest footwear designer – and simultaneously terrify their bank managers. What’s remarkable, too, is that this productivity level is, for Blahnik, practically languid. Not only is he tired – “exhausted!” – from work trips to Hong Kong (to meet retailers) and Milan (to meet suppliers), but he designs, he says, more slowly these days than he used to.
This is not because of his advancing years – “In a year’s time I’ll be 70. And it makes me happy that Armani is 80 because I’m not going to be retiring!” – but thanks to a consciously fastidious deceleration. “I do and re-do things that I used to do in a flash, because I want to be more perfectionist about these things. Maybe it sounds pompous and pretentious, but that’s the way I feel.”