“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world” Marilyn Monroe
On Saturday, a group of women gathered at Neiman Marcus to watch a parade of gorgeous shoes walk down a carpeted runway. George Malkemus, President of Manolo Blahnik, was in store to share with us the Spring collection of shoes. Everything from high heels to flats were showcased on the feet of the models, who showed the shoes in a graceful fashion.
Mr. Malkemus has been president of the famed shoe company for 30 years, since buying the rights to North and South America from Mr. Blahnik in 1982, when they bonded over their love and ownership of Scottish Terriers. While one is the creative designer, the other is financially savvy — a partnership from which many an elegant woman benefit.
Mr. Malkemus told us the story behind each shoe and how comfort is the most important element when designing the classic, never trendy shoes. “The shoe should never be the totality of the woman, but always a complimenting factor,” he told us. If you have trouble wearing slingbacks it’s because you have a narrow heel. (Marc Jacobs puts a dab of mustache wax on the heels of his models to secure the skinny slingback straps.)
As the last model walked down the runway in the shoes that Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie lost on an episode of Sex and the City (When Tatem O’Neil required her guests to remove their shoes before entering her home for a baby shower) we were told the story of Sarah Jessica Parker and how her connection with Manolo came to be…
Many years ago, when SJP was dating Robert Downey Jr. (we’re talking 80’s here), the dynamic shoe duo were having a trunk show in Los Angeles. The new starlet asked Mr. Blahnik if she could purchase three pairs of shoes, but needed to put them on a layaway plan, as she couldn’t afford to pay for them outright. Mr. Blanhik, hailing from Italy and confused by the term “layaway” asked Mr. Malkemus how they should proceed? For the first, and only, time they agreed to the layaway plan. Several years later, when Sex and the City burst onto the TV and cultural scene, Ms. Parker repaid the company by requesting that Manolo Blahnik shoes be used on the show and in the movie.
Neiman Marcus was the first department store to purchase the shoes, initially securing a total of 60 pairs, 30 for Beverly Hills and 30 for their San Fransisco store. How the times have changed! The shoes are now available in all Neiman stores, as well as Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, as well as in 14 independent retailers and two stand-alone stores, in New York and Las Vegas.
The day wrapped with Mr. Malkemus in the shoe salon, assisting women with their selection and doing what Mr. Blahnik credits him as doing best, “knowing what women want.”