Image: Michael Roberts

Manolo Blahnik has been working as a shoe designer since 1971. He was born in the Canary Islands, studying languages and art in Geneva before moving to Paris in 1965 and working as a set designer.

In 1970, after showing his designs to the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, Diana Vreeland, Blahnik was encouraged to focus on footwear. One year later, he was producing shoes in London and working with designers such as Ossie Clark. In 1973, Blahnik opened his first shop in Chelsea.

Blahnik has received accolades from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1987, 1990 and 1997. He also won the British Fashion Council Accessory Designer of the Year award in 1990, 1999 and 2003. In 2007, he was awarded a Commander of the British Empire title in honour of his contributions to the fashion industry.

The Design Museum opened a major exhibition on Blahnik's work in 2003. The designer also created the entire range of footwear for Sofia Coppola's film, Marie Antoinette. Published books on his work include Drawings and Blahnik by Boman from Thames & Hudson.