Greetings again from the darkness. Despite my lack of interest in high heels, or really high fashion in general, it’s always exciting to gain some insight into the creative process of an acclaimed artist such as Manolo Blahnik. Unfortunately, Michael Roberts’ (fashion writer by trade) directorial debut delivers more of a tribute than any type of peek behind the curtain. Heck, let’s call it what it is … it’s a fluff piece, plain and simple.
Mr. Blahnik has been labeled “the best shoemaker of the 20th and 21st centuries”, despite his claims of being merely a humble cobbler. There are dramatizations mixed with interviews, and plenty of famous faces to fill the screen. In fact, Vogue editor Anna Wintour seems to log nearly as much screen time as Blahnik himself … and shockingly, she’s giggling and smiling through most of it. Mr. Blahnik does make many of his own statements, including an admission of having no interest in politics or relationships. It seems designing the shoes is what keeps him going each day. And it’s this point where the filmmaker misses the real opportunity to dive deep into the creative process.
As is common in the fashion world, celebrities are usually front and center. There is an extended segment with Rhiannon, and there’s a glimpse of Donald Trump near the runway. Bianca Jagger, Diana Vreeland, and Sarah Jessica Parker all have their moments. We are shown a clip of Princess Diana wearing Manolo stilettos, and of course, a scene from “Sex and the City” is included … confirming the real audience for the film. Director Sofia Coppola describes her reasons for dressing the titular character of her film MARIE ANTOINETTE in Manolos, and there is an odd and slightly uncomfortable portion where Blahnik buddy Rupert Everett discusses Manolos for men, though seemingly in a contradictory manner.
There is nothing wrong with a lovefest celebration, but it is somewhat frustrating to listen to the gushing of admirers when a more insightful project is deserved, and would have been welcome.