Beautiful Blahnik boutiques around the world
Born in the Islas Canarias to a family of banana plantation owners, shoe designer Manolo Blahnik could perhaps be considered today among Spain’s most luxurious global exports. His Spanish mother, who had a keen interest in fashion, is often said to have been one of the greatest inspirations for his career choice. Today, Blahnik is hailed as one of the world’s leading pioneers of luxury footwear, championed by celebrities ranging from the fabulous (like Anna Wintour, Michelle Obama and Rihanna) to the fictitious (like none other than Carrie Bradshaw).
The rich experience that the customer goes through when purchasing the product is one of the central pillars of brand - as such, the retail spaces that house the revered Manolo Blahnik collections are no less spectacular than the footwear itself. Blahnik has long collaborated with British architect and designer Nick Leith Smith, who has crafted dozens of bespoke boutiques for him the around the world. Each store is designed and decorated uniquely and with its specific location in mind, carefully incorporating idiosyncratic elements of local culture into a variety of international modernist aesthetics that inspire Blahnik and sit in line with the ethos of his fashion label.
The range of locations across the globe in which these stores are found illustrate the truly global reach of this brand which find its roots in Spain’s Canary Islands. Here are just a few of them…
All images (c) Nick Leith Smith
This Georgian salon-style space in Selfridges is inspired by Robert Adam, an early pioneer in uniting architecture, interiors and fashion. It features a monochromatic palette, with dark wood cabinetry and furniture which contrast with shades of palest honey-toned panelling and table tops. Shoes are elevated on individual plinths and reverently displayed throughout the cabinets.
An 860-square foot stand-alone boutique with an interior inspired by Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann. The design employs precisely engineered clean lines, polka dots and simple geometric shapes with exposed original stonework and brickwork providing contrasting shapes and textures. Large mirrors add a sense of spaciousness whilst also playing with the idea of reflected history.
The concept for this store draws inspiration from traditional Chinese weaving and handicrafts by creating a timber and bronze woven system combining display, screening and shop front. Secluded seating spaces with upholstered walls create an intimate setting for customers to try on shoes. The natural colours of the weave are juxtaposed with brightly coloured upholstered ottomans in pink, green and blue.
Located in Marina Bay Sands, this 474-foot stand-alone boutique emphasises the traditional and modernist influences at play in Singapore, fundamentally celebrating its signature cultural and architectural duality; innovative modernity beset by colonial heritage. The dark bronze linear frame forms a striking front to the store which is softened by natural bamboo interiors.
The focal element here is an installation of timber and bamboo scaffold structures realised in crisscrossed folded wooden slats. Interlacing they connect walls and ceilings, imperceptibly supporting shelves and acting as hangers. They contrast with a painterly blue velvet wall, inspired by traditional Japanese indigo plant dye. The space reflects Japanese mastery for interpreting traditional cultural forms in exciting new ways.
The romantic yet rustic Dacha cottage architecture is evoked in this store through the grey vertical wood clad interior. This texture is complemented by the white delicateness of lace captured in laser cut Corian panels, enhancing the nostalgic theme of the Dacha.
The floral-inspired Corian façade complements the forest-like verticality of the timber cladding and geometric detail framing the mirrors.
The Dubai store, with five metre high ceilings, is dominated by a series of white hardwood screens, hand-carved in a tessellated stone coral pattern to create a series of alcoves and niches to shape the space and direct the display of shoes. The screens conjure the atmosphere Dubai’s character nature, geography and history. The natural hues of the space echo the quality of light and landscape of the region’s deserts and salt flats.
Located on on Boulevard Haussmann, the key inspiration for the Parisian space is the Orient Express, forever associated with the glamour and luxury of high-end travel. The shop design uses the iconography of travel, in particular the grand travel trunk, with a series of bespoke display cases to display the shoes. The result is an intimate, enclosed feel, almost like a train carriage or private compartment.