LONDON — Manolo Blahnik is raising his profile in London.
This story first appeared in the May 14, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Blahnik, who until recently had just one point of sale in the U.K. — a shop on a quiet street in London’s Chelsea — has inked a long-term deal with Kurt Geiger to sell the brand at Harrods and Liberty. Under the terms of the deal, Geiger will manage and create boutiques within the shoe departments at the two London department stores.
The Liberty space opened earlier this year and also carries tote bags, scarves and stationery adorned with Blahnik’s watercolor drawings. In July, a boutique will open at Harrods featuring the fall collection. The new space will span 300 square feet and be located in the Boudoir on the first floor.
“I am very excited that my shoes will reach an even broader audience through Kurt Geiger in Liberty and Harrods,” said Blahnik.
“The Liberty opening in February has been very successful, and with Harrods being a breathtakingly beautiful store full of incredible heritage, seeing my shoes there in the next couple of months will be a special moment.”
Marigay McKee, Harrods’ chief merchant, said she was pleased to have Blahnik in store. “Creations from this legendary shoemaker have redefined the role of the shoe in fashion and are coveted by opinion formers and fashion moguls throughout the world,” she said.
Kristina Blahnik, Manolo’s niece, who runs the business, said it is the right time to build out the brand in the U.K.
“I think it all started with the Liberty collaboration. We wanted to dip our toe into the water. In the past, we never had a growth strategy as such — we were always about organic growth. And change can be scary. But we do want to reach out to more customers. With Liberty, and with Marigay at Harrods, it all fell into place. We still want to keep things small and exclusive, and we don’t want to be everywhere. We won’t be looking at any further locations in the U.K.”
The U.K. isn’t the only region where the brand is expanding. Blahnik made a personal appearance at Excelsior Milano last Thursday to fete his brand’s first trunk show at the Milanese luxury department store.
“It’s my first time in a place like this, very young, with all this music,” said the footwear designer, who was shod in his trademark eccentric hot-pink slippers with striped socks, referring to the glam, festive mood of the Excelsior store. “But I really like the idea that young women make an economic effort to buy the shoes of their dreams.”
Blahnik, who said he will fly to Madrid in a few days for a photo shoot with Pedro Almodóvar by Mario Testino for Vogue Spain, also revealed that he is “doing a collaboration for an American-European movie.”