'Elvis' Star Austin Butler Became the King With the Help of These Custom Shoes

In Baz Luhrmann's 'Elvis,' the singer's shoes aren't blue suede...but they are unique.

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Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Elvis Presley — along with being one of the most popular (and polarizing) musicians of all time — was quite the on-screen star. Over a 16-year span (1956-1972), he took on 33 starring roles. The real-life Elvis, who died in 1977, was no stranger to the silver screen — but oddly, there have been few biopics about the artist, who's arguably one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

The first biographical film about Presley was released on television in 1979, directed by John Carpenter and featuring Kurt Russell as Elvis; there were a string of successful films that at least featured Elvis in the '80s, but there hasn't been an on-screen appearance for an actor playing The King since then. That changes this week with Baz Luhrmann's Elvis, which stars Austin Butler as Presley and Tom Hanks as his talent manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Though I haven't seen it yet, it's gotten rave reviews, including a standing ovation at Cannes, for its flair and focus. It's an excellent portrayal, critics exclaim, both of Elvis and the era which he dominated — outfits included.

Academy Award-winning costume designer Catherine Martin worked with director Baz Luhrmann to recreate his on-stage and off-stage outfits. For his footwear, Martin tapped designer Manolo Blahnik.

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The Tupelo (pictured here) is a black and white calf leather lace-up.
Warner Bros. Pictures

"It has been an honor to work with the wonderful Catherine Martin once again," he says. The pair have worked on previous films together, like Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! "I am constantly inspired by cultural movements and music and with Elvis as the muse, these styles were a joy to create. The '50s in general is an era that I am so often drawn to, particularly in my menswear designs, with some of my past and more recent collections inspiring the pieces for the film."

The resulting designs are true to the era but based on Blahnik's existing shoes. That synergy made him an easy collaborator, Martin says.

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The Victor (pictured here) is a tall white leather boot.
Warner Bros. Pictures

"To work with him and create something unique yet historically truthful was an incredible privilege," she says. "Coincidentally, Manolo Blahnik’s signature spectator lace ups are strikingly similar to the shoes Elvis habitually wore in the mid-50s."

Each of the silhouettes can be seen on screen, but they won't be available for purchase. That means the Victor, a white boot, the Tupleo, a black and white lace-up shoe, the Graceland, a tan desert boot, and the Cramer, a brown calf boot, are one-of-ones. Blahnik makes similar shoes for the masses, though.

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