Rihanna remembers her first pair of Manolos. “They were from an episode of Sex and the City,” she tells Vogue.com. “I saw Sarah Jessica Parker wearing them.” That late-’90s show turned Blahnik into a household name, but SJP and her pals have nothing on the global reach of Rih, who is about to do her own bit for Blahnik’s worldwide rep, having collaborated on a capsule collection with the designer. The denim and crystal-embroidered high-heeled shoes and boots they created together are hitting the designer’s stores in New York, London, and Hong Kong this Thursday, May 5.
Blahnik has his own early memory of Rihanna.
“The first time I met her I was introduced to her by Naomi [Campbell], and I really was captivated by the way she moved. She could be an actress, because she’s got that kind of presence which you don’t see very often. She could do anything.”
Indeed, her proposal for their collab—denim—was unfamiliar territory for the shoe maestro.
“She said to me, ‘I’d love to do a jeans collection.’ I said, ‘Well, it’s a challenge for me,’ because I don’t possess a pair of jeans since 19 . . ., well, since I was very young. I’ve never worn jeans, I don’t find them comfortable like people do. But anyway, here we are!”
Rihanna says she chose denim for its cowboy and dance-hall resonances. As for why she went with Manolo, rather than one of the countless other shoemakers who would’ve jumped at the chance to work with her:
“I chose to collaborate with Manolo because throughout the years he has proven to be the most timeless and diverse in his designs. His craftsmanship is like no other.”
The collection’s piéce de résistance is the holster boots, which give new meaning to the term over-the-knee, reaching as they do all the way up to the waist. Describing how those knockouts came to be, Blahnik remembers:
“The process was very spontaneous. I’m a professional for 45 years, she put it my hands and I did the best that I can.”
Rihanna did the rest.