The History of Manolo Blahnik's Most Iconic Shoe

With over forty years in the industry, Manolo Blahnik has become a cultural phenomenon and is one of the world’s most influential footwear designers. The Carolyne Sling Back Pump ($895) was first created in 1986, with 2016 marking its 30th birthday. The style, line, and cut of the shoe has become a staple in fashion circles, with celebrities, influencers, and even royalty stepping out in the slingback style.

The Carolyne hails from a collaboration with American socialite Carolyne Roehm, who Blahnik described in an interview with Footwear News as ‘beautiful, elegant, young and had a quirky twist with the classics’. Over the past 30 years, little has changed in the style—only the heel to accommodate trends, but both Blahnik and Carolyne ‘didn’t want to change it too much because it just works, so we kept it very much the same’. And the original Carolyne still wears them today.

The price of the Carolyne in the span of three decades has seen an exponential rise due to demand, and of course, recognition. In 1986 a pair of Carolyne’s would set you back $395 USD, yet with the rise of competition, celebrity endorsement, and of course the Sex and the City influence, the shoe’s price has inflated. Today, they’ll set you back $645 USD.

From crocodile skin, to patent, grained, and soft leather, suede or denim, satin and embellished, the Caroylne has existed in almost all forms. If you’re looking for a style, visit The Real Real for pages, and pages of vintage versions.

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