“I cannot stand hair hanging loosely anywhere on my head, so I glue it down”
Manolo Blahnik is the world’s most influential shoe designer with a career spanning over 30 years. Initially he was a set designer, but Mr Blahnik was soon encouraged to pursue his footwear designs after showing his designs to Diana Vreeland in 1970, then editor-in-chief of American Vogue. He learnt the art of making shoes by visiting factories where he talked to machine operators, pattern cutters and technicians.
By 1971, Manolo was in London making shoes. A year later, Ossie Clark, then the most famous designer in London, used his shoes and from there his career blossomed. His first shop was opened in Chelsea in 1973 and since then his shoes have been adored worldwide. “Shoes,” he says, “help transform a woman.” In November 2007, Manolo Blahnik was awarded an Honorary CBE in recognition of his status as one of worlds most influential designers. We know our friend Manolo for his impeccable personal style, he is always suave, sweet smelling and never has a hair out of place. Here at The Grooming Guide we think that his chic fastidiousness could influence a whole new generation of sophisticated gentlemen.
What is your top grooming tip for looking smart and pulled together?
I always start my day with a really good shower in the morning. I never leave my house without one. My favourite soap is Garofano by Roger Gallet. It smells like carnations.
You are known for not having a hair out of place, how and with what do you do this?
On my hair I use Phyto Shampoo and conditioner which are fantastic. As soon as I come out of the shower I apply Roger Gallet’s hair gel to my hair and to my eyebrows. I cannot stand hair hanging loosely anywhere on my head. That really bothers me so I glue it down.
Where do you get your hair cut?
I get my haircut at the Smile hair salon on King’s Road.
Do you enjoy the benefits of a wet shave?
Yes, I am a huge fan of it. When I travel and stay in hotels I always get this done. I especially like the one at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC.
Do your grooming routines differ from daytime to nighttime?
The only difference is that at night I take a bath instead of a shower. Also, if I am going out in the evening to dinner or a party, I would spend a bit more time on grooming.
Do you use different products depending on where you are in the world?
Not too different. If the climate is dry I use Sisley moisturiser and if I am in the sun (which I don’t do much nowadays) I apply Kiehl’s sunblock.
Have your grooming routines changed over time?
No, not really. I was brought up to be immaculately clean. To me it is second nature and the habits I was taught as a child remain till this day. Also, if I like a product I stick with it. I am a traditionalist and a very constant person.
If there is one thing a gentleman should be sure to do before he leaves the house in terms of grooming, what should it be?
I think it is important to smell nice at all times so it is important to apply a good, clean smelling cologne before one leaves the house.
What is one grooming tip you can share with the rest of us?
After the shower, before I get dressed, I apply talcum powder on my body. I especially like the Yardley’s lavender one.
Can you tell us about one grooming disaster? When did you look your best and your worst?
I never really had any. I never experimented with my looks, so there was no room for disaters. People say to me that I looked really good when I was 17-18 years old.
Do you wear fragrance? And if so, what is your favourite fragrance and why?
Yes, Knize Ten is my favourite. I also love Penhaligon’s Castile fragrance. They are both very clean smelling. But, generally I am very traditional with scents. I love tobacco and rum in fragrance as well.
Which other guys get it right in terms of their grooming?
To be honest nowadays not many. In the past people used to pay a lot more attention to grooming and cleanliness. In my opinion it is only respectful and good manners to be clean.
Is there a historical figure/filmstar/all time icon that looked immaculate in your eyes?
In the past there were plenty well groomed good looking men. For example: Clark Gable, Cecil Beaton, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Tiny Roland. People like them don’t exist anymore really …
1. Sisely Botanical Restorative Facial Cream With Shea Butter £104 for 50ml at yesstyle.co.uk
2. Yardley English Lavender Talc about £6.99 for 200g at Boots and www.yardleylondon.co.uk
3. Gary Cooper
4. Penhaligon's Castile Eau De Toilet £80 for 100ml at www.penhaligons.com
5. Smile Hair Salon 434 King's Road, SW10 0LJ, London
6. Roger Gallet Rose Soap £12.50 for 3x100g at John Lewis
7. Knize Ten
8. Clark Gable
9. Phytojoba Intense Hydrating Shampoo about £10 for 200ml at Selfridges
10. Bergdorf Goodman NYC