Michael Roberts is directing the film on the man behind 'Manolos'
Famed shoe designer Manolo Blahnik is the subject of a documentary now in production, according to an announcement from Content Media, which said it has acquired worldwide sales rights to the feature-length film.
Michael Roberts, a filmmaker, photographer and long-time friend of Blahnik, is directing "MANOLO (The boy who made shoes for lizards)."
He is a multifaceted intellectual and romantic whose engaging mind and ingenious work is made for entertaining cinema.
The documentary "is an in-depth portrait of the man who is regarded as a genius by some of the most revered figures in fashion; A behind-the-scenes peek into his world; And a must see for any person who has ever looked longingly at a pair of his shoes," said a press release about the project. It noted his designs are "famously known on a first name basis as ‘Manolos’. This thanks to the globally successful TV series ‘Sex and The City’ which turned Manolo Blahnik’s shoes into a cultural sensation."
The Blahnik website features a 2:46 video directed by Roberts that may give a hint at the content of the upcoming feature. It shows "Manolo as a little boy running around the gardens of his hometown in the Canary Islands obsessed with making shoes for the little reptiles out of candy wrappers," according to text accompanying the short. "One can easily see where Manolo’s love of nature and botany comes from and how they always permeate his designs. There is also a cameo by Rupert Everett, who for a brief moment plays the adult Manolo reminiscing about his childhood."
Manuel "Manolo" Blahnik Rodríguez was born in 1942 to a Spanish mother and Czech father. He studied languages in Paris before becoming interested in fashion and theater set design. It was Diana Vreeland, according to his official bio, who recommended Blahnik focus his attention on creating footwear.
The press release issued Thursday said the documentary "will feature a ‘who’s who’ list of some of the most notable figures in the fashion and entertainment worlds including Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley, Paloma Picasso, Candace Bushnell, Charlotte Olympia, Iman, Jamie Preto, Rihanna, Naomi Campbell, David Bailey, Isaac Mizrahi, Joan Burnstein, Mary Beard, Colin McDowell, Penelope Tree, Prince of Lampedusa, Rupert Everett and of course Manolo Blahnik himself."
Documentaries about leading designers have become a staple of the non-fiction film arena. Among the finest examples is the 2015 film Dior and I directed by Frédéric Tcheng, which explored the House of Dior as Raf Simons took over as creative director.
To my mind Tcheng's film was one of the best documentaries of the year, but it did not wind up on the Oscar shortlist, or factor much in awards season in general. I attribute that to it being pigeon-holed as a "fashion documentary," as if the artistry of a designer were any less worthy a subject than, say, a recording artist or actor.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.