The following is an extract from my article for Turnbull & Asser. Read it in full here.
The collection begins at the historic balustrade and ruby-carpeted staircase, where a selection of Blahník’s sketches are displayed. Designing each and every shoe since initial conception, Blahník creates 100 shoes per collection; an incredible 400 designs each year. “There are times where Blahník will be alone in his townhouse in Bath, and create around 80 sketches in a day!” said the Manolo Blahník representative that took us through the collection.
Leading us into the first of ten rooms, each one follows a clear theme predominantly centring around 18th Century artworks—a long time source of creative inspiration for Blahník. From an archive going into the hundreds of thousands, around 400 shoes were initially selected by Blahník, who along with the Wallace Collection's Curator of Decorative Arts, refined it down to just over 100 for this exhibition. In every room, a handful of shoes are elegantly displayed amongst the artwork, and interestingly, every shoe is a size 4, with only the right shoe of each pair on display. The notable exception to this is in the Oval Drawing Room; a theme of Love and Passion, it was important to celebrate this love by having the shoes paired with their rightful counterparts. These shoes featured in Sofia Coppola’s award-winning film, Marie Antoinette, and they differ in size compared to the rest of the collection as they were worn by Kirsten Dunst—who is a size 5.