An Evening Of Art, History and Manolo Blahnik | An Enquiring Mind At The Wallace Collection

by - August 09, 2019


By now you must know I have an obsession with anything created by the great designers (Balenciaga, Dior, Alaïa, Lagerfeld). I also have a great sense for sniffing out fashion exhibitions around London. If you haven’t already, definitely check out my post on the current Dior exhibition at the V&A. It's on until September!

My latest find is Manolo Blahnik at The Wallace Collection or rather An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik. The name might sound familiar if you’re a fan of Sex and The City. When Carrie gets robbed at gunpoint, he takes her Manolos and Carrie is left screaming down a Manhattan backstreet, “He’s got my strappy sandals”. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Manolo Blahnik is a famous shoe designer. His styles are iconic and you can definitely spot a them from a mile away. They have a slight renaissance feel to them from the shape of the heel to the long pointed toe. The two not always mutually exclusive. 

During my internship at The Times, I had the pleasure of holding a pair of Manolos. I was sorting out some returns in the fashion cupboard which happened to include two pairs of the most gorgeous shoes. I was in awe of the the craft of the shoe and the feel of the silk. I did have to compose myself a little bit. 

The Wallace Collection is located just off of Marylebone High street and is free entry. It is housed in Hertford House that was bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace in 1897. It’s essentially an art gallery featuring art from the 18th and 19th centuries and is a stunning place. I always thought The Wallace Collection was a prestigious stately home that you had to pay to get into. But that’s not the case at all. It’s prestigious in its own right due to the richness of the art and its decor. And, to reiterate, it’s free. Fun fact- FKA Twigs actually performed her latest single Cellophane one of the rooms.

The exhibition is not separate from the main display but rather featured alongside it. It is mainly on the first floor (that’s the second floor to my US readers) and towards the back of the house. Underneath the paintings are little collections of three to four pairs of Manolo’s that are said to “juxtapose an icon from contemporary fashion with Wallace’s outstanding collection”. The shoes are displayed inside a glass covering which looks like the glass that covered the rose in Beauty and the Beast. The covering makes the shoes look enchanted, however, I felt like I couldn’t always see the true beauty of the shoe through the warped glass.



The exhibition encourages you to look at more than just shoes. The decor inside is stunning and you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Since it’s located away from the main busy areas and not as well known as other galleries in London, there’s not a big crowd inside. This means you can enjoy the art without feeling like you have to move along quickly. I read an interview with Manolo Blahnik on The Guardian's website who mentioned that The Wallace Collection was very special to him and often inspired him. The exhibition definitely reflects his love for the gallery and this is shown through the careful placement of the shoes and how they don't take any attention away from the art.

I’d say it depends on the type of person you are and how interested in fashion you are in whether to go or not. The exhibition was more focused on the art inside the house as opposed to solely on the shoes. So, I’d say it was more for maturer audiences than a love-struck teen who wants to stare at the gorgeous shoes up close. 

Love, Aoife xo

An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik at The Wallace Collection. Free Entry. On until 10th September.

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