Manolo Blahnik Debuts a Fantastical Coloring Book…

May 1, 2020 | style/mode

…With a Philanthropic Twist

Tortura spring 2000
Tortura, spring 2000Illustration by Manolo Blahnik / Courtesy of the artist


During quarantine, many people have become reacquainted with some of the simpler pleasures in life: puzzling, board games, and the like. Now Manolo and Kristina Blahnik are contributing the chicest coloring book imaginable into the mix as part of the company’s SMILE project, launched last year. “Smiling has many proven health benefits and we wanted to share some of what we have found is helping us,” writes Kristina from her dining room-turned–home office in Sussex.

Henley Oxfords fall 2018.
Henley Oxfords, fall 2018.Illustration by Manolo Blahnik / Courtesy of the artist


This is not an all fun-and-games project, though. Like COVID-19, mental illness is an invisible affliction, and this effort is designed to support the valiant efforts of England’s Mental Health Foundation and, says Kristina, draw attention to the organization’s “specific guidance on how to deal the mental health impacts that the pandemic is having, from management tips to acts of kindness.”

Blahnik, that magician of shoes whose creations filled Carrie Bradshaw’s closet, has selected the shoe drawings available to download and color himself. Yes, there are some of his famously slender stilettos. “I chose sketches which are very personal to me and meaningful, in light of such an important cause,” the designer explains. “They all encapsulate different inspirations and memories of mine, locations which I am very fond of.” The Acanthus model, for example, makes reference to a plant from his native Canary Islands.
Acanthus spring 2012
Acanthus, spring 2012Illustration by Manolo Blahnik / Courtesy of the artist

Currently in residence in Bath, Blahnik is maintaining his longstanding practice of drawing every day. “Everything starts with a sketch!” he exclaims via email. “Sketching is the act of me drawing my imagination.” His drawings are indeed fantastical, with whooshing, fluid lines, that give energetic form—and personality—to shoes that delight and tell stories.


This shoemaker extraordinaire patronized Chelsea’s art suppliers Green & Stone for the pads of paper, brushes, and Dr. Ph. Martin’s inks he draws with, but magic markers, crayons, chalk, pencils, work too. And it doesn’t matter if you keep within the lines or stray, either. It’s the act of coloring, the pleasure of doing something with your hands, the small break from work or the news that this activity can provide that is the point here. That, and not to lose hope.


Manolo Blahnik.
Manolo Blahnik.Photo: Zac Frackelton / Courtesy of Manolo Blahnik


On that topic Blahnik addresses you directly. “Dear Vogue readers, I hope you are all keeping safe in these uncertain times. We have to remain positive and take care of one another. We will get through this and we will come out of it more united and stronger than we have ever been before.”

We must remember that we will get through this—one step at a time.

Download one of Manolo Blahnik’s coloring pages here, or continue to for the full selection. And don’t forget to post with the tag #ManoloBlahnikSmile.



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