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Manolo Blahnik: ‘Relationships for me are a real no-no’

Elizabeth Taylor gave me invaluable advice. It was 1990 and I was about to accept an award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America – it was all very grand and I was backstage, nervous as hell. She put her hand on my back and leaned in and said: “Honey, just remember: they’re only people.” Now I give lectures and speeches without batting an eyelid, all thanks to her.

I don’t believe in the “creative process”. And I certainly don’t sit around collecting fabric swatches and waiting to be inspired. I get very little sleep – five hours is a miracle – so I draw shoes. That’s how I’ve always designed.

Sex and the City made my name mainstream. Mrs [Candace] Bushnell loved my shoes and next thing I knew, I was the talk of the town. It was very flattering, but feels so long ago. Life has changed completely. No one has time to sit around drinking cocktails and talking about love.

Island life can be very strange and isolating. I was born and brought up on the Canary Islands and I’m sure, If I’d stayed there, I would have gone mad.

I don’t think you can tell much about a person from their shoes. The first thing I do is look into their eyes, and then down to the feet.

Moving to England was like coming home. It always felt so familiar as my father had been such an Anglophile – he was mad about Winston Churchill. I arrived in London when it was swinging, made some lifelong friends and then moved to Bath, which has been my home for 33 years.

I’m extravagant in spirit, but it’s obscene to buy too much. I’m like a monk. I’ve been wearing the same clothes for 40 years.

Women’s comfort is of great importance to me. I used to try on my designs in the factory to make sure they are comfortable. Sadly, I can’t do that any more since I broke my tendon.

I don’t fall in love with people, I fall in love with art. Relationships for me are a no-no. Imagine having to talk to someone all the time or waking up with them breathing all over you. Not for me at all. I find it very uncivilised.

Princess Diana had a glow. But she was also very normal. I don’t like to talk about her as it’s still too painful – I loved her dearly.

I’m all for the stiletto. Platform shoes are vile – they’re so wrong for the silhouette and make the most beautiful legs look wrong. The only way they work is if you’re wearing a long dress so you can’t see them.

Migraines have been with me all my life. They’re a part of who I am. I inherited them from my father, and I’ve made my peace with them.

I’m old-fashioned and proud. I hate emails, but the internet can be wonderful. I use it to buy rare books, and to binge-watch House of Cards on Netflix.

Life lessons aren’t really important. Remain dignified, dress well, be good to other people and you’ll be fine.

The Vogue Festival 2014 in association with Harrods takes place at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, on 29-30 March. Visit southbankcentre.co.uk/voguefestival

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