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#SxBB: The Manolo Blahnik Challenge

Taking the BB stiletto to technology's biggest week

Manolo Blahnik BBs

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Manolo Blahnik BBs

Stylist Annabel Tollman calls it the only shoe.  It regularly walks red carpets around the world.  It’s also known as an editor’s staple used in photoshoots.  This is the Manolo Blahnik BB pump. 

“I have always liked court shoes, especially with thin, high heels,” said Mr. Blahnik.  ”Suddenly, two years later it was the most successful shoe!  The beauty of the BB is that it can be worn at any time, anywhere, in any color and any material.  It is so versatile!”  Reintroduced in 2009, Mr. Blahnik designed this classic pump as the antithesis of everything else people were wearing at the time – over-designed, over-accessorized, heavy shoes.  He wanted something simple, sleek, elegant.

The BB was inspired by 1950s fashion, and was aptly named after the inimitable Brigitte Bardot.  “It reminds me of mid 20th century elegance and women like Suzy Park and Jean Shrimpton”, Mr. Blahnik explains.

Manolo Blahnik and Bergdorf Goodman date back to the dawn of Mr Blahnik’s business in the United States: “Bergdorf Goodman is the jewel of New York!  It is one of the most important places for me to visit.  I love it!  It was so wonderful when I was able to sell my collection there.” And we hope to continue this friendship for many, many years to come.

Meet Manolo Blahnik this Thursday from 4-6pm.

Manolo Blahnik BBs

Photographed by Manolo Blahnik


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So it’s raining. And it’s been raining since we woke. The urge to slip in my trusty paddock boots (the ones that trod their way through snowy NYFW) was considerably high.  But I cannot let Mr Blahnik down.

Suede just wouldn’t do…Not when the streets are beginning to resemble Lady Bird Lake.  And Pacha seemed a bit too aggressive for Day 1 (its pitch is scandalously high).  So I went for the silver glitter pumps and paired them with an oversized gray sweatshirt and army utility pants.  Because it’s important not to look like a bride on the first day of interactive exploration.

So do I feel ridiculous? Do I feel like a silly girl amid a sea of converse and practical flats? Not at all. It’s International Women’s Day!  Why not prove you can wear heels and geek out? Gamification and other tech-stuff just as important to me – not matter the shoes on my feet.

And you’d be surprised how many people are delighted by the plucky BB.  However, some have remarked that it’s impractical to wear heels during a conference that requires so much walking.  Child, this is a cinch compared to fashion week.  

There is one teeny problem…. the BBs are a smidge too big (I even will go so far as to recommend going a half-size smaller than usual).  Now I’m a pro with heels – I’ve subway commuted from Brooklyn to Fifth Avenue while wearing 6″ Charlotte Olympia wedges and I’ve test-driven a cast of curious styles for 5th/58th – but swimming in stilettos is an entirely new challenge. I do not recommend it.  The constant toe-clench is a challenge. There was a moment when one glittering BB liberated itself from my foot and zoomed across Guadalupe after being accidentally kicked by the brilliant and long-legged Kristen Joy Watts. Classic occupational hazard, right?

So now I’m off to the druggist. Serious shoe pads are in my near future. 

We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

In Austin? Don’t forget to follow our #SxBB tweets to get clues as to where the BBs will be traveling. Instagram them with #SxBB for a chance to win custom BBs! psst: @manoloblahnik is sharing clues, too!  



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Let me begin by saying I love these royal blue BBs. Adore to the nth degree.  If I were to purchase a pair, these are the BBs I would get. There’s something about the color combined with the simple silhouette that make these BBs powerful, unexpected. They go with everything – black, brown, white, gray… colorblocked with hot pink!

Perhaps it’s because these are samples but the suede BBs fit much better – no flying stilettos here!  And it’s been a breeze trotting around Austin – for 110mm, these heels are comfortable.  Today’s been one of those chase-around days – walking everywhere while discovering delightful things like a digital cardboard cut-out that answers your questions (imagine one starring Linda – amazing), as well as a few darling ladies who recognized our soles and instagrammed them for our #SxBB contest.   

It’s getting a bit warmer here, so Ali and I both embraced the semi-Spring weather with shorts and long-sleeves. Ali’s in an oxford with cut-offs (love cut-offs and a clean heel – so casual chic) and I’m in a pair of army shorts with a printed Proenza top, Isabel Marant blazer and jumble of necklaces including a Lulu Frost pendant.

This is the beauty of BB: no matter the look or destination, these pumps are a go. They’re so clean that they’re delightfully new – it’s a total refresh and I’m loving it.

Photo Credit: Rachel A


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Today was a day of miscalculation.  You know when you check the weather and look outside and think, “Oh, I’m in Texas. It’s March! Wrangler cut-offs are calling my name.”  And then you actually step outside and suddenly your pale Fashion City legs are distinct pale blue.  It was cold.  Like New York in March cold… but there I was in my cut-off shorts and white t-shirt like it was a sunny day in May.  Brrrr. It’s cold in here….

Nevertheless, I trotted along in my glittering BBs and bare legs. Because that’s what you do when you make a fashion misstep: you act as though nothing is wrong. However let me be clear: glitter BBs and cut-off jean shorts is a perfect combination.  There’s a certain tension between high and low that makes for a delightfully inexpected combination.  Like you know how Miuccia Prada has a theory about dressing from the waist down (hence her entirely playful skirts)?  This was a party from the ankles down. Disco for the toes. And it perfectly complemented the Wall Street Journal pool party later that afternoon.

Manolo Blahnik, BB Glitter Pump
Second Floor, 212 872 8940

Photo Credit: Claire Marines


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My last day… and a busy day at that. Awoke this morning to brilliant blue skies and a nip in the air.  Considering yesterday’s wardrobe woes, I squeezed into my dotty Current/Elliot Stiletto Jeans (a fantastic fit when you’re 5’1.5″) and paired them with a chambray shirt and those lovely royal blues.  And let me tell you: I love colorblocking these kicks.  There is so much possibility with this singular hue.

Since it was brisk, I pulled out the only sweater I packed — ironically it sports dots the exact same size as my green jeans.  The effect was very buttoned-up, quirky-matchy (which was beyond my usual pace but fun nonetheless) that seemed fitting for a day spent previewing our documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s (out May 3rd!) and speaking on our panel with DKNY’s Aliza Licht and Lucky’s John Jannuzzi.  Also, while queuing up Manolo’s spotify playlist, I caught an incredible panel starring astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, Reading Rainbow founder LeVar Burton, the SETI Institute’s Jill Tarter and Barbarian Group’s Benjamin Palmer.  You need to see what they’re doing. Totally inspired.  Post-panel visited my Neiman Marcus / Cusp girls at their StyleCaster event with Leandra Medine before introducing Aliza to her first Texas honkytonk.

It’s been so fun to see the BBs insta-action — every time someone tags a new photo we get so excited.  From the newly-wed husband who chased me around Austin (in effort to win a pair for his wife) to Michael Kors’ Farryn who instructed me to position the BB on a dangerous helicopter mechanism, it’s been such a thrill to see how each person interpreted their BB vision.  I cannot wait to see who the winner will be (it’s only fair that the Manolo Blahnik team judges this… I could be a bit biased, no?).

But I must admit: I cannot wait to return to my flats.  Perhaps I’ve become lazy or maybe my feet are out of shape, but I really don’t understand how the fashion flock wear heels for a full month.  I hardly could do it for four days!  Fullest respect for those who can bear it.  Back to New York tomorrow — we have a petite cocktail thing I must attend.  Wonder what shoes I’ll wear?

Image credit: @dkny

Let me begin with a confession: I didn’t wear heels this Fashion Week.  Not once.  Fashion City’s streets were too messy and salty to risk damaging my favorite soles (even Linda was saved by her lug-soled boots when she had to push her stalled taxi through an icy traffic light) and I really didn’t want to risk slipping and sliding on all of that pesky black ice.  Also: I’ve only worn heels twice since*.

One would think a girl surrounded by the most obsession-worthy soles would feel deep shame for these repeat offenses – but I don’t.  Well…not really.  Because I’m about to pay my debts to the shoe gods, one 110mm stilletto at a time.

Hello, Austin.  Remember me?  We chummed it up last SxSW when Valentino challenged me to incoporate a piece of their Rockstud Collection into my daily look.  Compared to this year, Valentino was kind – they loaned me kitten heels and ballet flats, clutches and iPad-friendly small totes.  It’s easier to nerd out in ballet flats (even if they’re flecked with studs).  But Manolo Blahnik’s really thrown the gauntlet this week: there are no arch-hugging kitten heels, there are no skimmers in which to navigate Sixth Street’s cobblestone paths… there only are BBs, each standing 110mm tall.

Wicked, naughty Manolo… I see you conspiring from your office across the pond.  5th/58th’s shoe challenges of late have been much too easy – a day in heelless wedges? a night in Walter Steiger’s impossibly comfortable Unicorn Thors?  Perhaps you thought them a cinch.  Go on with your conniving laugh… it’s fine.  You knew I was getting too comfortable…. perhaps even too (dare I say it?) Brooklyn.  You knew I needed to return to BGs Fifth Avenue roots.  Let’s start this game.

But know this:  I’ve brought someone else into the challenge.  Oh that’s right: my SxSW cohort Ali also will be in the mix.  And each day we’ll be showing you how we styled our BBs.  So come back each day and see how we’re living up to the SxBB Challenge.
Oh, but that’s not all: if you’re in Austin for SxSW we’re giving you (yes,
you) a chance to win a custom pair of Manolo Blahnik BBs.  This is what you need to do: follow @bergdorfs and @manoloblahnik on twitter and instagram for clues as to where we’ll be traveling next.  Instagram the BBs in their nerdy SxSW action and tag them with #SxBB , give them the best caption you’ve got.  Our favorite instagram featuring the best caption will be the winner.  You have until we return to New York Tuesday morning._

* which makes for a 2013 grand total of 4 instances in which I’ve worn heels.  shameless

Click here for official Rules: #SxBB Twitter and Instagram Challenge