By  on April 6, 2007

ISTANBUL — Fashion devotees and connoisseurs of "Sex and the City" clamored to have their photographs taken with Manolo Blahnik when he launched his first boutique corner last month in the new Harvey Nichols store here.

Mingling with the cream of Turkish socialites and signing the spring-summer 2007 shoes they bought, Blahnik was a hit at a party that marked the first time Manolos have been available in Turkey, and the first time they have been sold in a Harvey Nichols.

"The shop is beautiful….I just love the idea of Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire….When they asked me here, my sister said, 'Go, go,'" Blahnik said, as he was pulled away for yet another photograph with fans who included an heiress and the wife of one of Istanbul's top entertainment entrepreneurs. Even the coach of Turkey's national soccer team was there, although he did not queue up for a memento.

Officials at Unitim, the Turkish company that runs the Harvey Nichols franchise, said they worked hard to persuade the designer to bring his label to Istanbul.

The Harvey Nichols-Manolo Blahnik shop-in-shop, designed to evoke Moroccan and Ottoman religious architecture, should be even more of a draw in Turkey now that people have been initiated into his world after a recent showing of "Sex and the City," in which Manolos were so prominent. As one Turkish organizer quipped at the party, "People are saying, 'Yes, this is great, but where is Carrie Bradshaw?' Even fashion-wary Turks have been saying, 'Oh, yes, those were the $1,500 shoes that Carrie lost.'"

Newspapers here extensively covered the opening, writing of "Manolomania" and invoking Madonna's declaration that Manolos were as good as sex.

After catching his breath, Blahnik said he had been battling a sinus infection and was too busy to see much of the city. "I caught it on the plane here — what a nightmare," he said.

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