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Silver screen gems

Audrey Simon
Audrey Simon • 4 min read
Silver screen gems
What do designers do during lockdown? They re-watch all the classic movies, like fashion designer Manolo Blahnik who shares his favourite all-time flicks.
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SINGAPORE (Apr 17): You have been channel surfing but nothing jumps out at you. Need suggestions? The King of Shoes Manolo Blahnik is here to help you stay sane and occupied with a list of his favourite movies.

But first, we suggest you watch the Netflix documentary on this remarkable Spanish fashion designer and founder of the eponymous high-end shoe brand. His fans include celebrities, royalty and personalities such as Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour who said, “To be a great designer, great creator, you have to be interested in the world and history and people.” Blahnik is clearly one of those people. The 2017 documentary, titled Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards is a loving portrait of an artisan who is the perfect combination of craftsman and historical knowledge — even if he parlays them into pumps, mules or heels. Utterly inspiring, the documentary — which charts his daily life, his loves and his designs — is a must see for anyone. And as unbelievable as it sounds, Blahnik used to make shoes for the lizards in his garden growing up in the Spain’s Canary Islands!

Film has been a constant source of inspiration throughout Blahnik’s 50-year career. Not only does he draw inspiration from the movies and the actors on screen, Blahnik also finds limitless inspiration from the direction, production, and costume design from his favourite movies, all listed below.

Blahnik’s movie picks

Double Indemnity

American film noir, 1944

Directed by: Billy Wilder

A critical favourite, this 1944 Oscar nominated masterpiece was directed by Billy Wilder, one of the most versatile filmmakers of the Hollywood Golden Age of cinema. Barbara Stanwyck stars as a provocative housewife who seduces an insurance salesman Walter (Fred MacMurray) in the hope that he will kill her husband and trigger the ‘double indemnity’ clause, which would double the insurance payout.

Rebel Without A Cause

American drama, 1955

Directed by: Nicholas Ray

The only film James Dean (pictured) headlined — it opened a month after he died in a car crash in 1955 at the age of 24 — this classic by American film director Nicholas Ray remains a critical favourite. A film portraying emotional middle-class teenagers, it sees the eponymous rebel Jim Stark (played by Dean) moves to a new town in order to have a clean slate. But he soon gets in trouble with rival gangs while falling for Judy (played by Natalie Wood). Melodramatic for sure, but it also made waves for its keen insight into juvenile attitude, something uncommon at the time of its release.


American psychological film noir, 1947

Directed by: Curtis Bernhardt

Joan Crawford — often considered one of the greatest actresses of classic Hollywood cinema — stars as a mentally ill woman who is obsessed over her ex-lover. Possessed has an abundance of noir atmosphere and a full rotation of Crawford at her most deranged.

And God Created Woman

French drama, 1956

Directed by: Roger Vadim

The movie that launched French actress and sex symbol Brigette Bardot on the world stage. Then 21, Bardot stars as a married but sexually liberated young woman living in the French coastal town of St Tropez who teases her husband, his brother and a Riviera millionaire. While a hit worldwide, this censor baiting movie caused a sensation as it pushed the boundaries of the sexual representation in cinema then — most prints were even heavily edited to keep with the cinema standards of the time.

All About Eve

American drama, 1950

Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Another Hollywood classic,this time starring Bette Davis — often cited as one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses. Here, Davis plays a respected Broadway star who hires the young but ambitious fan Eve (played by Anne Baxter) as her personal assistant. Eve however who maneuvers herself into Channing’s life, ultimately threatening Channing’s career and her personal relationships. Critics love this and so should you: It was ranked sixteenth on American Film Institute’s 1998 list of the 100 best American films.

The Leopard

Italian period drama, 1963

Directed by: Luchino Visconti

This movie was panned by critics when it was released but its reputation has bettered over time — movie director Martin Scorsese now considers it to be one of the greatest ever made. Set in the 1860s, The Leopard is an epic recreating the turbulent years of Risorgimento, a movement that helped to arouse the national consciousness of the Italian people, leading to the formation of a unified and democratic Italy.

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