Meeting the Blahniks: Kristina Blahnik at Harvey Nichols Leeds
Last week, I met one of the most inspiring women in fashion, the striking and eloquent Kristina Blahnik. Interviewed by Tatler’s Mariella Tandy during an intimate and exclusive tea party at Harvey Nichols Leeds, Kristina told us the warming tale of how her uncle Manolo began his business in shoemaking; from the early days of his childhood when he started making shoes for lizards out of tin foil, to how she herself “grew up in a shoebox” whilst her uncle along with her mother kept the family business very much a family business. Going against her upbringing, Kristina worked as an architect for 18 years before she finally took her position as Managing Director at Manolo Blahnik. Showing us some interesting footage of her uncle working, Kristina said, “I just want to give a little context of him in the factories; it’s not a clinical environment at all. It’s this mad, colourful, loud, crazy environment which is all about him. He doesn’t have any design teams or anything. It is just him on his own and no shoe is a commercial product. He never designs categories. No one can tell him we need this, that or the other.” Mariella and Kristina went on to talk about how Manolo draws around 200 designs a season. Yet only 60 or 65 designs ever make it to the shop floor. All of a sudden, I found myself daydreaming about a manic artist scribbling away in a small, dark room, working late into the night until all of his ideas travelled from lead to paper.
The entire evening with Mariella and Kristina was fascinating and inspiring, and as well as walking away with unbearable red velvet shoe envy, I walked away with a greater admiration for pure family businesses such as this one. “My mother and my uncle entirely own the business, it’s totally privately owned, never been invested in; it’s, you know, pure.” – Kristina Blahnik, 7th Oct 2014 Thanks to the superb press team at Harvey Nichols Leeds for organising this exclusive tea party with Kristina Blahnik. What an evening to remember.