Sole Survivor

LONDON — In just over a week, Manolo Blahnik will open the first retrospective of his 32-year career, and he doesn’t know whether to cheer or cry — or both."I always thought retrospectives were for when you were about to drop...

Blahnik, who studied law when he was younger, refers to his career as a "beautiful" trap. "I studied law but thought that was horrid. I always knew I’d do something with my hands. I always liked extremities — and feet in particular. But it’s not a fetish or a sexy or sensual thing. You stand on your feet all day, and no matter what sort of problems your feet present, there’s always something redeeming about them."

In fact, he’s far more critical of shoes than he is of feet, and the shoes that he detests in particular are sneakers. "Call me prehistoric, but I think trainers are almost unhealthy. I don’t like the thought of feet encased in rubber," Blahnik says.

The future of footwear? Blahnik admits that one of his great challenges is to create a shoe without limits. "I want to do a shoe made from one piece of material that can be worn for every occasion, in every season, a shoe that you can wear with jeans or with a little black dress."

But his other goal is to remain his own boss. "I want to stay small, and keep my freedom. Everything today is about these big conglomerates. I wish fashion could return to being about smallness and about quality."
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