An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection

Monday 14th October, 2019

Manolo Blahnik exhibition at the Wallace Collection features a personally selected edit of shoe designs from Blahnik’s private archives set amongst the masterpieces of the Wallace Collection. This exciting venture juxtaposes an icon from the world of contemporary fashion with Wallace’s outstanding collection that 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 Blahnik himself, the partnership celebrates the renowned designer’s long-held fascination with the Wallace Collection and provides an unprecedented exploration of his creative process. The exhibition places Blahnik’s exquisite designs 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.

Each room explores a particular theme associated with Blahnik’s work, demonstrating his thirst for knowledge and the wide ranging influences upon his designs. Visitors are taken on a journey through Blahnik’s imagination, spanning the theatre and spectacle of the Commedia dell’arte, the fashions inspired by Blahnik’s native Spain, 18th-century Rococo style, his own personal interpretation of Englishness and much more. The full diversity of Blahnik’s work is on display, from the candy-coloured shoes designed for Sofia Coppola’s award-winning film, Marie Antoinette, seen here alongside Fragonard’s Swing and Boucher’s Mme de Pompadour, to his carefully worked, jewel- encrusted shoes which reflect the diamond-mounted gold boxes and delicately painted miniatures of the Wallace Collection’s Boudoir Cabinet.

Both Blahnik’s designs and the works of art with which they are interspersed reflect a commitment to the highest levels of artistry and craftsmanship. Just as the founders of the Wallace Collection sought to acquire the most beautiful, the most captivating and the most precious, Blahnik also seeks to produce shoes of refined quality and elegance. This is a rare opportunity to see excellence in contemporary design alongside the exceptional quality of the Wallace Collection’s own art works.

Dr Xavier Bray, Director of the Wallace Collection, says: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to showcase the way in which the Wallace Collection has inspired one of the world’s greatest fashion minds. It also enables our audiences to see the collection in a new light and make connections between the many artistic disciplines to be found in the museum.”

Manolo Blahnik says: “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.”

Until 27 October 2019 Free entry, The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN. I: www.wallacecollection.org 

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