Written by Emma D'Arcy
The shoes with the story
We all have an item (or several!) in our wardrobe that tells a story. About us. About life. About inspiration. About art. About possibilities. My most treasured item is a magnificent pair of vivid blue satin Manolo Blahnik stilettos, adorned with shimmering Swarovski crystals.
My love affair with Manolo’s began years ago whilst studying at university; lunch breaks spent glimpsing the dream NYC life alongside Carrie and the Sex And The City women. I fell in love with the glamour and the adventures, but also admired how these unforgettable, brilliantly relatable characters (with all of their flaws, dramas, and real struggles), wholeheartedly embraced life, and showed a generation of women how to rule the city and their lives with such inimitable style. Carrie’s shoe designer of choice was my first introduction to the iconic Spanish designer, Manolo Blahnik. Synonymous with exceptional design and legendary craftsmanship, these iconic shoes symbolize far more than their aesthetically pleasing form. They represent the power to become whoever you want to be, as realized by the characters in the cult NYC based show, and beyond in modern culture.
Little did I know that years later, I would have the chance to realize my own NYC dream, and walk the same Tribeca streets as the characters I grew up with. I’ll never forget the moment I was called into my Director’s office, days before I was due to leave my media job in London. The heart stopping moment when I was asked completely out of the blue, ‘How do you feel about moving to NYC to work for us?!’ I knew instantly that this was one of those opportunities you never forget for the rest of your life. Fast forward a few months later, I flew with two suitcases to my name and a sky full of hopes and possibilities. It’s the best feeling in the world.
NYC, you didn’t disappoint.
There are no words to fully capture what it is to live in this electric, exhilarating city that has an energy and vibrancy like no other. Knowing that NYC certainly isn’t for the faint hearted, I took a deep breath and dived in, fully embracing everything the city had to offer. It takes real determination and guts to find your way and then thrive in this exciting metropolis. Equally the pay off when you do… is something else. There are certain moments that will always stay with me. And actually, the sense that anything is possible with enough self belief is one of NYC’s greatest gifts that has remained with me since.
Fast forward 18 months to summer in London, and at this particular moment in time, there was a big fat question mark hovering over me about ‘what next?’, so when I discovered there was a Manolo Blahnik exhibition at the Wallace Collection, I decided to allow myself a day off from dealing with those pesky question marks. I dressed in my finest (Mesh Tulle skirt and black Chelsea boots), and treated myself to time out. The enchanting combination of Manolo Blahnik’s finest curated shoe collection encased between the opulent grandeur of historic masterpieces was a much needed inspirational moment.
This gallery visit was followed by a trip to Manolo Blahnik where I found the pair. I knew these shoes beautifully represented a particularly special chapter of my life in New York, and to this day are my favourite items in my wardrobe. Why? Because they are a spectacular reminder that despite life’s ongoing question marks, uncertainties, and challenges of late, with a healthy dose of courage and optimism we can always find a way through (hopefully emerging a little wiser?!). Even if it takes a messy, rollercoaster journey to get there. Yes, they cost me more than a month’s rent at a time when the last thing I should have been purchasing was shoes, but heading home with a shoebox that symbolized the inspiration that we all need sometimes, I knew that I would be absolutely fine, question marks and all.
My guess is that when you think about wardrobe stories, it will only take a moment before you find the item that makes you smile, or evokes memories of hilarious misadventures! A treasured silk scarf from India, a stunning beaded bracelet from South Africa – the stories that our wardrobes could tell. Carrie would be enthralled…