Manolo Blahnik and Opera Pumps

Fashion vs. Style

Watching the 1973 David Hockney feature The Bigger Splash the other day, I was rather proud of spotting a detail that others watching the film didn't notice. A close-up showed Hockney — Or was it someone else? — ringing the doorbell of a house in Kensington. I think it was the house where the designer Ossie Clark was living. Anyway, I noticed the name on one of the nameplates said 'Manolo Blahnik'. Surely it had to be the Manolo Blahnik. I suppose it didn't have to be, but I think it was and told everyone. If ever you watch the film, and you might want to only if you enjoy Hockney's work or seeing London before it became a global commodity, look out for the nameplate.

With a penchant for bow ties, opera pumps and well-cut suits, Bath resident Manolo is one of those rare fashion designers who eschew fashion for timeless elegance. And 'twas ever thus. That's Manolo in the top picture from the 1970s in a classic Tommy Nutter of Savile Row suit.

From the photos below you might want to take inspiration from his use of colour and combination.

Into The Elegant Male he goes.

Opera Pumps for You

I thought you might want a pair of Manolo's opera pumps after you had seen them. The pump, slipper or tuxedo shoe is a staple of the Manolo Blahnik men's collection. Colours vary depending on the year.

This year the Toro model comes in classic black patent leather with grosgrain bow. Made in Italy, the shoe is lined in kid leather for supreme comfort.

What do You Call Modern Nowadays?

Wise words and a nice turned-back cuff in this short interview Manolo made for Vogue. Manolo believes that trainers ruin the beauty of feet by turning them into flippers. He also has no idea what classifies as modern nowadays. I think we can gather that from his heroic continuation of the opera pump — a reflection of a gentler more dignified age informing his aesthetic.


  1. Opera pumps? Only if I want to look my grandma.

    1. Thanks Anon. Your grandma will be very comfortable, I can ssure you. Best wishes, Tweedy

  2. Well spotted Tweedy! While an artist like Hockney is likely to look up to observe his surroundings, I agree with the spirit of this post and recommend looking down to see people's footwear. Case in point: I recently watched David Hockney: A Bigger Picture and I noticed Hockney painting in his slippers. I don't think they were opera pumps, they looked like good, honest carpet slippers to me. That said, Hockney Style deserves a post in its own right.

    1. Thanks Benedict. Hockney has a sense of style to be sure. I think we must deliver a post at some stage. And we must resurrect the 'Pipe and Slippers Man' series. The classic combo. Thanks for reminding me. I think we only managed two so far. Best wishes, Tweedy


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