Legendary shoe designer Manolo Blahnik was born in the Canary Islands but moved to London in 1969, setting up his eponymous brand a year later. Here, he shares his favourite memories of Knightsbridge, stocking up on treats at Harrods and having lunch with Princess Diana
My Knightsbridge: Manolo Blahnik
What do you think of London as a fashion capital?
London has been my home for over 50 years now and it’s a totally unique city with so much beauty and splendour. It has an incredible mix of people, ideas and so much talent. It’s a playroom to some of the best ideas in the world.
Where do you like to shop in Knightsbridge?
I used to go with my friend [model] Tina Chow to the Scotch House, which used to be at the junction of Brompton Road and Knightsbridge. Gosh, they sold the most beautiful blankets and exquisite cashmere which we both enthused over. Today, Cutler and Gross is where I go when I need to change my glasses.
Your iconic shoes are stocked in Harrods. What do you like about this store and what do you buy when you visit?
It’s so wonderful to see my shoes sold in Harrods. We also put in a very elegant space there over the summer dedicated to men’s shoes and the art of shoemaking. The building and surrounding area are indeed iconic and a symbol of London. Personally, when I go to Harrods, I love to visit the Food Halls to stock up, or I select some personal grooming treats from Crème de la Mer.
If you could own any building in the area, what would it be?
If I really could choose it would of course be the Brompton Oratory, or anything on Brompton Square.
As a keen gardener, what is your favourite part of Hyde Park?
The Rose Garden.
Sum up Knightsbridge in three words.
Best shops, elegance.
What Manolo Blahnik shoe epitomises Knightsbridge?
The classic kitten heel that I have in so many of my styles – the Maysale is a firm favourite.
Can you share some stories of your time frequenting San Lorenzo?
Yes, of course! I used to lunch at San Lorenzo twice a week. I have hundreds of memories of this legendary restaurant. One of my favourite was when [Italian filmmaker] Luchino Visconti came to London in the ’70s, I got on with him so beautifully and we had lunch there. Another time I went with [artists] Eric Bowman and Peter Schlesinger and had lunch with Diana, Princess of Wales, which was rather special. The place was literally our canteen and I dined there with all my friends, including my wonderful, special friend, the late journalist Michael Roberts. We also had a party at San Lorenzo after the opening of an exhibition we had at the Design Museum in 2003. All my friends came, it was just incredible.
Do you have a special relationship with the V&A, considering your love of history?
I just love that place. I have seen so many beautiful things there. The first thing I saw when I came to London was the Cecil Beaton retrospective which was just remarkable. I also remember seeing the Rifat Ozbek show when Roy Strong was the director. I was also lucky enough to do a talk there several years ago, which was lots of fun. It’s an incredible place and something that I would call my spiritual home.