Manolo Blahnik in the City

We couldn’t help but wonder, if we started this post with a deep question about some life mystery, would it give our readers a clue as to what today’s post is about?

Or maybe the title gives it away…?

Sometimes we like to follow our Litchfield County neighbors into the city to see how they roll there versus their country life! We especially like to do this when our neighbor is Tony Yurgaitis, Vice President of Manolo Blahnik. In Litchfield County, Tony is the co-owner of Arethusa Dairy Farm, Arethusa a mano and Arethusa al tavolo, alongside his partner, George Malkemus (President of Manolo Blahnik).

We initially met Tony and George when we attended a talk given by the two at the Litchfield Historical Society last fall. We learned the entire story of how they came to become the top executives of Manolo Blahnik and the history of the company. Check it out – cool story!

Anyway, on with today’s story…practically fairy tale like. We’ll break it up with Lora’s photos of art – sorry, SHOES! So there’s a good chance we’ll lose your attention…

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Once upon a Thursday…

We didn’t let a fire at 125th street (and therefore delayed trains and a Saturday schedule of all trains into the city) stop us from making our appointment with Tony at MB HQ. We hopped into Lora’s car instead (TG she doesn’t mind driving in the city) and got to 31 W 54th Street in record time. In fact, we had time to loiter in the Warwick hotel just down the block. So nice. Must go back. [Lora’s note: Obsessed with the fact that Cary Grant lived there for 12 YEARS]

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The Warwick hotel has a lovely bathroom too! We can say that because we probably just lost you with that shoe….so pretty!

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Tra-la-la-lalala-laaaa say anything here….how can anyone read with those beauties staring back?

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Ok, back to the story! Lora was on the hunt for her wedding day shoe (pretty much the most important shoe of all) and it happened to be my birthday…so the timing for our visit with Tony couldn’t have been better.

Tony came down from the upstairs offices to greet us and got straight to work helping us with our mission. Lora – wedding day shoes, Bev – beginner heels.

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One of the wonderful experts on the sales floor, and wedding shoe specialist, Diana Zerka, helped Lora with her mission. Having helped countless women find their wedding day shoes, she got straight to work with Lora, asking questions that helped her hone in on a couple of possibilities.

Meanwhile, Tony took me under his wing to help me find a classic shoe. A shoe that can be worn on many an occasion. I have this stupid practical side that perpetually rears its silly head. I tried to talk Tony into finding me a more rounded toe, flat number, but Lora overheard and put the kibosh on that. I’m so glad she did. I had sworn that I wanted to get in touch with my more “lady-like, pointed-shoe, high-heel” side. Tony had me try on the shoes below and that was that. I knew they were the ones instantly. I looked in the mirror and felt like I’d just been given some kind of make-over. What a difference a beautiful shoe can make! I felt instantly more confident and in-charge…I kid you not, I felt like a W-O-M-A-N! Hear me roar!

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If shoes grew on bushes… The BB

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Obviously, we can’t show you what Diana and Lora settled on, you’ll have to wait for “The Wedding” post for that. Let’s just say everyone was really happy!

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With our shopping fantasies fulfilled, Tony gave us a tour of Manolo Blahnik – behind the scenes! We said hi to everyone who works there, popped in on George in his office, and ran into Rihanna in the stairwell.  Ok, last bit not true; rest, true.

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Tony, you and George have been doing this gig for a long time, besides running the biz, what do you do here?

We live and breathe, and are the eyes and ears of what the women like in New York. We’re the American viewpoint. Manolo designs the shoes in Europe. We understand the market here.

So Manolo designs different shoes for different countries?

Yes, he does. A lot of women cross over, of course. Some of the shoes are specifically for the American market. You’ll not see them in Europe. Every country has its own view on style.

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How did the collaboration with Rihanna come about?

She was one of our customers…she liked our shoes. She normally calls in and has her stylist pick up the shoes…so she’s been a fan for quite a while. She loves Manolo Blahnik’s beautiful lines…so they decided to have a collaboration.

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You’ve worked with Manolo Blahnik for a long time haven’t you?

We’ve been here for 40 years. I think the fashion world has been really good to us, and we’ve been really happy to be in it. It’s given us the opportunity to have the farm [Arethusa]. This really supports what we’re doing up there [Litchfield County]. That’s a love of labor up there.

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And you just opened another Arethusa Farm Dairy store in New Haven?

 Yes, we’ve been open for almost 3 months now.

You obviously love work – you have so many businesses…

Well, yeah. I get so impatient, though. I want everything to happen just like that. They say it takes 7 years for a business to really take off.

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Thank you, Tony!

And that was that! Lora got marriage advice from Diana, and we got some business advice from Tony…then we were on our way. Time to take our MB’s to lunch at Fig and Olive…and we couldn’t help but notice our bags getting some acknowledging smiles from passersby 🙂


Words: Bev, Shoe porn: Lora