An Enquiring Mind – Manolo Blahnik at The Wallace Collection
An Enquiring Mind

Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection

A mint green pointed toe mule with a fur lined insole. The shoe is on top of a cabinet in the Wallace Collection. Torna SS 1994
The Versailles shoe. A pink mule is suspended in front of Fragonard’s painting, The Swing. Versailles 2005

From 10th June until 1st September 2019, the Wallace Collection and Manolo Blahnik present An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection. This exciting, London based exhibition juxtaposes Manolo, a living artist and icon from the world of shoe design, with the Wallace’s outstanding collection, which has been an inspiration to artists since it opened to the public in 1900.

Co-curated by Wallace Collection Director, Dr Xavier Bray, and Manolo himself, the partnership celebrates the renowned designer’s long-held fascination with the Wallace Collection, providing an unprecedented exploration of his creative process. The venture places a curated edit of shoes from Manolo’s archives in the intimate context of the Wallace Collection alongside the paintings, sculpture and furniture that inspired his enquiring mind - leading to a dialogue between the old and the new, the art and the craft, the real and the fantasy.

The Asha boot. A black knee high boot with ribbons, is positioned in front of The Laughing Cavalier painting by Frans Hals. Asha AW 1990-2000

"The Wallace Collection has been a point of reference for me since my early days in London. It was – and remains – one of my favourite museums with the most refined selection of art. I am incredibly humbled and honoured to be a part of the project and have my work displayed at the museum." Manolo Blahnik

The Wallace Collection has long been a source of creative stimulus to Manolo, who has established himself as a leading shoe designer thanks to his constant intellectual search for the new and the beautiful in art and life, literature and film, and in the past and the present. With an artiste’s eye for visual detail, he has drawn inspiration over the years from the Wallace Collection’s paintings, furniture, porcelain and sculpture. His shoes evoke a world of luxury and beauty, and echo the qualities of skill and creativity found in the art.

The Margolotta Boot. A boot featuring oversized daisies is positioned in front of a mirror and between two ornate vessels. Margolotta SS 2013
The Pingar, is a sling back shoe. It is positioned on top of a star shaped mosaic in the Wallace Collection. Pingar AW 2008-09
The Orientalia mule is displayed inside the Wallace Collection. Orientalia 1986

Manolo has worked with the museum to select masterpieces from his archive which help lead the visitor on an inspiring journey of enquiry through some of the Wallace Collection’s great works. The 10 galleries used for the exhibition are spaces where Manolo has experienced the inspiration, passion and emotion of great art which has fuelled his own creativity. Here we learn about the rise of the public spectacle in eighteenth-century France, the Commedia dell’Arte and the performing arts; we admire the collecting passions of Neo-classical connoisseurs and the revival fashions of Antiquity; we discover the drama of the Baroque alongside the opulence of embellishment and we experience the erotic power of Boucher and Fragonard.

Quality and excellence are key to Manolo’s ethos. Just as the founders of the Wallace Collection sought to acquire the most beautiful, the most captivating and the most precious, Manolo also seeks to produce shoes of exquisite quality and elegance. The principles of artistry and craftsmanship behind what he does, also resonate with the furniture, porcelain, clocks and gold boxes with which the shoes are surrounded.

During the exhibition there will be a series of talks which will celebrate the partnership between Manolo and the Wallace Collection. Guest speakers will include eminent scholars, fashion designers and practitioners across the world of art. Tickets to the events are limited to 150 seats and include exclusive after hours access to the exhibition.

For further information and tickets please view the programme section at the top of this page.

The Lepanto boot is positioned in front of Joshua Reynold’s painting of Mrs Elizabeth Carnac. Lepanto AW 2003-04

Photography by Cassandra Parsons, © The Wallace Collection