This spring, one of the several signs that New York City was bursting back to life was a discreet notice on an empty Upper East Side storefront: MANOLO BLAHNIK OPENING SOON. For his entire half-century career, the 78-year-old, U.K.-based master shoe designer has believed in the regenerative possibilities of the city. It was Diana Vreeland, after all, who prodded the young aesthete onto his professional path during his first Stateside visit. “America has always been a home to Manolo Blahnik,” says Kristina Blahnik, the designer’s niece and the C.E.O. of this family-owned company.
Partly in tribute to the silver-screen idols whom Blahnik has revered since childhood, he decided to decorate the new U.S. headquarters in a whimsically opulent “Hollywood Regency” style, conjured up in collaboration with the interior designer David Thomas. As the landmarked town-house flagship at 717 Madison Avenue is double-fronted, its architecture suggested to them twin entryways, the northern one for the women’s boutique and the southern one for the men’s. Connected inside by an arch, the conjoined spaces have all the fanciful, prismatic vivacity of the shoes themselves—think cherry red, forest green, yolk yellow, peacock blue, plus stripes and polka dots.