Permanently closed. It is the message that appears on a red background when requesting information on the Internet about Spanish stores of Manolo blahnik (Santa Cruz de La Palma, 1942). On April 1, the blinds of the two establishments of the Spanish master of footwear, located in the golden miles of Madrid and Barcelona, were no longer lifted. The two stores were franchises run by Naty Abascal, Jaime de Marichalar and María Reig, Andorran multimillionaire owner of the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona hotel, where Blahnik’s shop was located in the Catalan capital.
This is what happened in New York in December 2019, when the only Manolo Blahnik store on American soil was closed, after breaking the relationship he had had with his partners in the country for almost four decades, George Malkemus – whoever he was. President of the company in the US since 1982- and Anthony Yurgaitis -Vice President-. Both alleged in a statement the termination of their commercial relationship by the “Unacceptable terms” that Kristina Hulsebus, niece, right hand of the designer would have proposed to them and director of the house since 2013. Of course, the company plans to return to the Big Apple, although in a different location, since Malkemus and Yurgaitis are the owners of the West 54th St. building in which the old store was located. A must for fans of the fiction ‘Sex and the City’. It is not known where or when, only that it will be this year, according to the Blahnik website, which continues to sell in posh department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus.
The firm will control the new Manhattan store from London. Blahnik wants to have all his businesses under control, which is why he also acquired in 2019 his Italian supplier, Calzaturificio Re Marcello, to lead his production line. House sources in our country affirm to this newspaper that everything indicates that sooner or later Manolo Blahnik will return to settle in Spain under the umbrella of Kristina Hulsebus, following the formula that will be applied in New York. Without franchises.
Blahnik’s landing in our country was long overdue. It was not until September 29, 2005, 35 years after his landing in London, when he opened his first store in Spain, in Madrid’s Serrano street, with a party attended by the King Midas of footwear. Five years later they arrived at Passeig de Gràcia, in front of Casa Batlló, the coveted ‘manolos’, a nickname he hates because, he says, “it looks like a bar or transport company name”.
The firm currently owns 20 stores of its own, fourteen distributed between the East and Asia. The other six are in Europe, half in London, where Blahnik started his empire, specifically in the Chelsea neighborhood. It is in the British capital where the «shoe designer» is based, as the designer himself defined in the presentation of his retrospective, ‘Manolo Blahnik: the art of the shoe’, at the National Museum of Decorative Arts, in Madrid, in 2017. 212 prototypes were exhibited, selected from an archive of 30,000 pieces, all from number 37, size of the Queen Letizia, one of her many well-known clients. Among others, hers are the ones she wore at Leonor’s christening and those at her wedding, four inches high, in the same fabric as the dress signed by Manuel Pertegaz and embroidered with the fleur-de-lis. It was commissioned by Marichalar, which, curiously, a year later took over the reins of the franchise in our country.
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