Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Meeting Manolo Blahnik... and a very nasty bump on the head.

The night I met Manolo Blahnik was one to remember for lots of reasons.

When I heard he was in discussion with Colin McDowell at the marvellous Design Museum, I simply could not let this momentous fashion collaboration pass me by. My interest in the legendary McDowell’s fashion journalism had picked up pace over the last few months and like many others from the Sex and the City generation, I adored Blahnik’s coveted shoes – this wasn’t just footwear after all, it was art.

I snapped up a ticket and waited with anticipation. As I made my way along Butler’s Wharf that cold night to the beautiful white building, I allowed myself, just for a moment, to feel a little bit like Carrie.

Mr Blahnik did not disappoint. I was left spellbound by the man as well as the shoes. Looking resplendent in a spotty bow tie and amethyst suit, he joined his friend McDowell on the stage to discuss his fascinating life and career to date. He disclosed the inspiration for those exuberant shoes and gave the audience an exciting insight into the Manolo behind the magic.

I sat eagerly in the small and intimate audience as he led me on an educational journey into the gorgeous world of fashion; the moment in time when he was introduced to Diana Vreeland, former editor of US Vogue, in 1971 and was instructed to ‘go make shoes’. In 1972, he worked for Ossie Clark in London where his shoes were sought after by Grace Coddington and Jane Birkin to name but a few and where he collaborated with Jean Muir.

I watched in awe as he sketched incredible designs there and then with the image projected live onto a screen for the audience’s pleasure. My favourite, a beautiful purple court shoe with a huge bow, was drawn with perfectly natural ease and flair. I was mesmerised.

I didn’t want the discussion to end, but sadly it had to. At the end, I joined a long line of eager fashion fans, awaiting the chance to meet him and take away a personally signed copy of his exquisite book ‘Manolo’s New Shoes’. After what felt like an hour, at last I found myself facing the great man.

He smiled graciously, a huge warm grin, and thanked me for waiting and coming out into the cold evening to see him. I had purchased two books, with one for my Mum as a birthday present and he signed both, his huge, animated writing leaping off the page. He asked for my Mum’s name and smiled and wrote, ‘Linda, you have a beautiful daughter’. I bet he said that to all the ladies, but nonetheless, he charmed me right out of my shoes. He was enchanting.

After dinner, I floated home. On the tube I looked over the sketches in the book, thinking constantly about the great man and what I’d learnt that evening. As I slipped dreamily into a taxi, still on a wonderful high and planning just how I could save up to buy those beautiful purple courts, something rather disastrous happened. I misjudged the distance between my head and the taxi door and the two met with a huge CRACK.

The taxi driver asked if I was ok and I laughed it off and said I was. I rubbed my sore head and ignored the pain, not wanting to ruin the wonderful evening I’d had.

I made it into work the next morning, took some painkillers and battled through meetings and deadlines. It was only when I started to slur my words and experience tingling in my arms and legs; I suspected this wasn’t just the Blahnik-effect. I was rushed into a taxi by my boss to A&E and after a feel around the large bump on my head, the diagnosis was delivered. Concussion.

I was ordered to stay in bed and rest. No laptop, no Blackberry, no books, no nothing. Just sleep. I missed my Christmas party. I lost 3 days from sleeping. I attended a meeting with my fiancé at the local registry office to serve notice of our impending marriage, with hugely dilated pupils and black eyes. I tried desperately to remember my own date of birth, let alone his. It took me a good week to recover and to return to a normal state of mind.

So, that is how I met Mr Blahnik and sustained a nasty knock on the head.

I had concussed myself in the blink of a Manolo moment. As I flip through the gorgeous images in my personally signed book, I sigh and think to myself, Nicola, it was worth the bump.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


I'm talking the weather condition here, before you stop reading with a grimace.

Today I officially announce wind as the most annoying form of weather.
According to Wiki, wind has inspired mythology, influenced the events of history, expanded the range of transport and warfare, and provided a power source for mechanical work, electricity and recreation.

I’m all up for that, really I am. But today, it irritated the hell out of me.

Today's wind caused mayhem in minutes; it lifted up my skirt resulting in an unhelpful bum-flash near Warren Street station. It blew my hair around in all sorts of crazy directions, before finally sticking it in my newly-applied lip-gloss. It rendered my umbrella completely useless and blew a wet plastic bag in my face along the busiest part of Tottenham Court Road. Nice.

It distorted important phone calls and made everyone grouchy and touchy and generally a bit fed up of the bracing, gusty swirling of it all. It created a bit of a to-do on New Oxford Street too, all because of a wild and unruly backwards umbrella-in-face-incident.

Other weather phenomena are nowhere near as offensive. Sun is all-round-sensational. Rain can be quite romantic as long as you're adequately covered. Snow, a former enemy of mine, is admittedly pretty.

But wind; blustery, breezy, howling wind is something I’ve got absolutely no time for whatsoever