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Manolo Blahnik: 'I'm Suspicious Of Platforms'

SAMANTHA CRITCHELL   10/14/10 03:34 PM ET  AP

NEW YORK — His new book title is "Manolo's New Shoes," but top footwear designer Manolo Blahnik has old-school styles on his mind.

He'd like to see more women in elegant heels, adorable flats or even classic American saddle shoes instead of the "clunky" platforms – his word – that have been so popular in recent seasons.

"I'm suspicious of platforms. They're the wrong shape for the leg," he says.

Blahnik, the man at the heart of the pop-culture shoe craze thanks largely to regular mentions in "Sex and the City," also waxes nostalgic on soda fountains, malted milkshakes and old movies.

It's an appreciation of simple, well-made things, he explains.

He travels all the time and he laments that so few hotels have the classic-movie cable channel TCM, which he uses as an endless source of inspiration.

But don't mistake Blahnik's affinity for things from yesteryear as a sign that a new era is passing him by. He's plugged into new materials, new runway fashion and red-carpet stars.

He is also an avid fan of new films, with "The Social Network" at the top of his must-see list. "When I see a movie, it's like I'm there. I'm the sort of spectator of movies or viewer of TV that lives inside whatever it is I'm watching," he says.

The lesson to be learned from icons such as Audrey Hepburn in "Sabrina" and Natalie Wood in "Sex and the Single Girl" is the confidence a woman gains when she knows she looks good.

A flattering shoe is simply an easy tool for her to accomplish that goal, he says.

"There are those moments, even if it's only seconds, when you walk differently in a great new pair of shoes, you feel differently. Heels do that for you. Flats can do it for you, too, but they're much harder," Blahnik says.

Lately, there's been an increased demand for kicky, flirty kitten heels, he says, which are lower than his signature stilettos. These are a nice option for women because the foot isn't at such a high angle, although they're usually a very thin heel.

Blahnik, 67, raised in the Canary Islands and now based in London, was in New York on Wednesday for an on-air appearance on "The Martha Stewart Show." The episode is slated to air Friday on the Hallmark Channel. He and Stewart whip up coconut-chocolate and almond-vanilla milkshakes.

Stewart wore pointy-toe, ankle-tie high heels in a black-and-white pattern by Blahnik that she says could take her from her daytime outfit of black capris with white button-down shirt to a fancier evening look.

"I love all his shoes. They really work," Stewart told The Associated Press after the taping.

She says she likes that his designs are stylish and hit the trends but have a timelessness thanks to the artful materials and shapes. (Each style starts with a hand-painted sketch.)

A shoe's construction is quite precise and has technical as well as aesthetic aspects to be considered, Blahnik says in an interview in his private, backstage green room. In Stewart's world, a finely crafted shoe is more similar to a food recipe than a floral arrangement, he adds.

He's fighting tendinitis at the moment, but it's a general rule that he wears shoe samples – including the high heels – around the office to make sure they're right. His own personal shoe wardrobe is full of matador slippers like the turquoise ones he's wearing on this day, more formal Beau Brummel-inspired lace-ups and, yes, saddle shoes.

Says Blahnik: "Those shoes defined a generation."

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Filed by Hilary Moss  |