My Four Seasons: Manolo Blahnik’s Milano Retreat

We catch up with the famed footwear designer – and longtime Four Seasons guest – on the heels of his documentary’s release.

by Austin Morton

Iconic shoe designer Manolo Blahnik has been a regular guest of Four Seasons Hotel Milano for more than two decades.

Manolo Blahnik is a citizen of Spain who headquarters his eponymous brand in London, but he’d be the first to tell you that the real magic happens in Milan, one of his favourite cities. The iconic shoemaker, who still whittles by hand the wooden forms that shape his inimitable creations, maintains several factories there.

“Milan is a city to discover,” Blahnik says. “It inspires me tremendously.”

For nearly three months out of every year, he sojourns in the fashion capital to personally oversee the transformation of his designs into wearable works of art. His residence of choice? Four Seasons Hotel Milano, where Blahnik has been a regular guest for more than two decades.

“My friends’ homes are my favourite places, but the first thing I do when I’m in Milan is to go to the Duomo.”

“It’s my home away from home,” he says. “I’ve been coming here since the beginning … The people, the service and the food are all impeccable and to my taste.” Blahnik has returned to the same room for the past 22 years: “Room 212, my humble home.” When it came time to film the newly released biographical documentary, Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards, the Hotel was a natural location for director Michael Roberts, who captured select scenes there.

Blahnik is charmed by the building itself, which was a convent in the 15th century. And he has fostered close relationships with many Four Seasons staff members. One of those special bonds is with his long-time housekeeper, Ignazia Gammicchia. “We met many years ago,” he says. “She’s a woman from another generation – such a warm person, with the most beautiful manners. I adore her!”

“I adore the Palazzo Morando, where we had our [Art of Shoes] exhibition earlier this year.”

The Hotel has also partnered with the designer to introduce the Manolo Blahnik Package. With this special offering, in addition to a daily Continental breakfast, guests receive a signature pair of velvet and satin Manolo Blahnik slippers – made exclusively for the Hotel – and a foot treatment for two at the Spa.

“It was an homage to film director Ferzan Özpetek. I also thought about Turkish slippers, the deep navy with the gold embroidery,” Blahnik says of his design. “Simple, but very elegant.”

Four Seasons Hotel Milano

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Guests who book the Manolo Blahnik Package will receive a pair of these signature blue velvet Manolo Blahnik slippers, made exclusively for the Hotel. Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
“I love the idea that the Hotel used to be an old convent – this greatly appeals to me. I think it’s fascinating that nuns would have walked in the same place where we are now staying.” – Manolo Blahnik Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Savour a multi-course meal of Mediterranean and local cuisine al fresco at La Veranda, courtesy of Executive Chef Vito Mollica. Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Greet the day at Four Seasons Milan with views of the Hotel’s lushly planted courtyard. Photo Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards hit theatres September 15 in the U.S. and premieres September 29 in the U.K.