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Manolo Blahnik greets fans at Neiman Marcus

Manolo Blahnik, the famed shoemaker of choice for Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex and the City”, made an appearance at Neiman Marcus at Fashion Island on Tuesday.

The Spanish-born designer was on hand to sign his latest literary endeavor, “Manolo’s New Shoes: Drawings by Manolo Blahnik.” The 200-page book features original color sketches by Blahnik, as well as commentary by some of the biggest names in fashion, including Vogue’s Grace Coddington and Milena Canonero, an Oscar-winning costume designer.

Besides his book, which decorated the glass tables at the department store, ladies also had him sign his greatest work of art: his footwear. Whether it was an oxford, a delicate slingback or a furry bootie, women of all ages came to greet one of the most well-known names in the shoe world.

Christina Ferguson, an avid shopper at the Fashion Island location, was excited to be in the acclaimed designer’s presence.

“Manolo Blahnik, he’s almost an icon since ‘Sex and the City.’ I think he was the beginning…He changed how people looked at shoes, so now it’s fun, sexy and fashionable,” she said. “I think he made (it that way), and everyone else kind of followed.”

The designer himself was similarly enjoying the day as he signed books and shoes, always making conversation with shoppers and happy to pose for a photo.

“I love this place!” he said. “This is my life. I do shoes for these women.”

These women in particular – Orange County women – aren’t like the rest.

“I think they’re very groomed people, very beautiful people,” Blahnik said of his California fans. “They know what they want.”

He also wasn’t afraid to gush about his latest collection for Winter 2010.

“My winter (collection) is a cross between many empires…the Austro-Hungarian to Berlin,” he said. “It is not one inspiration. It is many.”

With one glance around the Manolo Blahnik boutique, it was easy to see that his 40 years of work has paid off. Women chatted and complimented one another as salespeople pried open the coveted white shoeboxes. Known for his classical elegance and attention to the craft, Blahnik has remained a staple for his unusually comfortable heights and fits. Comfort isn’t normally used with luxury retail.

His book, which details his favorite sources of inspiration – from Africa to Russia, and architecture to plants – also begged the question: How does he keep it so fresh?

Blahnik admitted that he isn’t as calculated as people may think.

“I don’t have that fashion mind…Like every week I do shoes differently. I could do it, but I don’t need to,” he said. “What I do is evolve bit by bit.”

Blahnik pointed to a shimmering black, thigh-high boot, and said: “You see that boot there. It’s absolutely exquisite. It’s so modern…Like a modern Amazon with a little touch of show business. I love that. That is the direction I should be taking more.”

Designing shoes since 1971, Manolo Blahnik is now a household name. The hundreds of patrons that gathered over the course of the three-hour event proved that there is no stopping Blahnik’s powerful, international influence on the fashion world.

Women don’t even call his footwear “shoes,” instead calling everything he touches by his first name. “These are Manolos,” a shopper said.

Tagged in: lux exclusives, neiman marcus, fashion, footwear, shoes, heels, manolo blahnik, art, sex and the city, icon,

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Purple Neon/LadyLUX

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