Oh, How wonderful to be making shoes, loved every minute of it although it was not always wine and roses.
The production was more or less in place so now the selling was the most important and in order to do so we had to get known  in the shoe store world. So after we did the shoe-fair in Elda…

which was very successful, we decided to do the NY Fashion Fair with our shoes and belts

Alejandro brought us to the airport.…

We were received in style in NY.  Samina, the Pakistani princess  and owner of the Nido del Aquila, came to pick us up at the airport in a white Rolls Royce, wearing an incredible white fur sitting there beautifully in the white leather seats.… ha, ha she was too much.… you should have seen her home, all minimalistic super modern Italian furniture, it was indeed nice to see her and we promised we would do our best helping her to sell her house in Spain….

By now we had quiet some clients in the US, all wonderful stores, and we got some nice press in the Woman’s wear daily and some other magazines

The “Faust”

” La Española” designed by Salvador…

Carmen Maura, famous Spanish movie-star with my Rockies in Blue

In order to keep the factory busy between the time we made-up the models, did the selling, prepare the orders, order the materials and so on, there was a gap in which I had to keep the seamstresses and cutters busy, the shoemakers took much longer and they had always something to do and most of them were temporary workers anyway but not the seamstresses and cutters… so I started to make belts and mittens and finally bracelets of leather incrusted with studs and stones. We sold those like Hot cakes!
The first sample I always made myself and the happiest moments of that time was to be in the factory at night after everybody had gone home, sometimes with Salvador, sometimes with Marianni, sometimes alone, everything at hand, leathers, studs, stones, machines and everything else to design and make up whatever came to my mind, nice music, a good joint, that was heavenly to me.

The mittens, ( muñeceras)

Of course there were many things that were not so heavenly. Some clients would not pay at all, others would let us wait for months and considering that a phone call to the US was $1.50 a minute at that time, it nearly ruined us. That’s why it was a very happy moment when a girl, Vesna, whom I had befriended at Yves Saint Laurent where she was a model, called me out of the blue and told me that she was shopping for shoes in NY and bought a pair of mine but did not realize they were mine until she got home and saw my name… Now Vesna wanted to represent us in America and Vesna was just perfect, looked great, had good taste and was really ready to go for it.

Now the whole setup changed and from now on we got the orders directly from Vesna, she paid us, than took care the shoes got to the stores and that’s how she got paid. It was much better and our list of American clients grew. We bought a Telex, the computer was still pretty unknown and only very big companies had them, so we had now a Telex, the next best thing, which often woke us up in the middle of the night when the orders of the US were coming in with a lot of noise.

In the meantime we decided to rent an apartment in Elda so we did not have to stay in hotels . It was not a very nice apartment but at least we could make our own food. One day when we were driving around to discover the area we found this incredible place called ” Aquas de Busot” . We saw these beautiful abandoned houses and so we asked around in the nearby village where they gave us the name of the woman who was taking care of them. It was swift and happy for both parties, we could rent the house for something like $50 a month… Wow, what a place. It was pretty old and had plenty of rooms. I think the servant quarters were down stairs, an enormous entrance with a fire place so big we could all stand in there and in the days was used for cooking and a room and a storage place, upstairs were the living room and the bed rooms and bathroom.

The house stood in the middle of beautiful woods where no one ever came, with here and there another abandoned house, all big and beautiful and in the middle of the woods was a small castle, so pretty as I never saw, not even in movies, could very well imagine the Romeo and Juliette scene there on that beautiful balcony. We met the people who owned it, they came down occasionally in the summer when it was too hot in Madrid and  they showed us the place inside. Some parts of the castle were build in the 14th century and left original. It was perfect and in use, with gorgeous carpets and furniture, can you imagine? In the middle of nowhere? They thought nothing of it, it had been in the family for centuries.

Alegria in Aquas… all the tiled floors were so beautiful….

The sanatorium painted by Salvador Maron.

There was also a Sanatorium, abandoned since the 40-ties but had been a very popular place for people with breathing problems. It was a small village by itself with many different buildings, lamps from the 30-ties hanging abandoned from the ceiling, wooden cabinets of all shapes and lots of “Tonnet” chairs, real ones, signed and all and this incredible marble stairs and bath tubs and floors, unbelievable. We had a lot of fun spending time there.

So lets see, now we had 4 places to live and for some reason we also had 4 cars. The Landrover from the “Nido”, the beautiful SEAT Salvador bought in Elda,

Salvador and the SEAT.. wearing a silk sweater by our friend EDINA RONAY

A BMW we had bought from a friend who needed to sell and a Buick, the only one Automatic and that was the one I was driving and as a matter of fact that was the car we drove down to Paris with to show our shoes there. Salvador had had this smart idea to rent a suite in a wonderful Hotel “Lotti” in Paris and invited the clients to come and visit us there rather than having a cold stand in the fair. We had such a good time and the clients were delighted to be received with champagne in that relaxing atmosphere

Things kept constantly changing. Alegria should go to school and Alejandro could not stay that much by himself as we were going more and more to Elda as that was where it all was happening. We are now more or less in 1985-86 and I am getting still deeper into shoes….



That was it! Francisco had found us a small Factory that was for rent! Wow, Our own factory! It was very old but everything was there, some incredible machines that looked really alien and too old to use but everything we needed for our handmade shoes worked. It was amazing because the rent was not much and it was perfect for us.

Well, here we were again cleaning up as good as possible and painted the office blue-green so one had the feeling to be in the water.

… Through the window from the entrance to the office

It was quiet a setup, we had to get people to make the shoes for us, a pattern maker, cutters, seamstresses, the shoe makers, (each specialized in his thing and machine, to keep the chain going and a girl to finish the shoes, 2 or 3 young assistants, someone for the office and someone to drive around and organize and pick up things (Francisco) and a manager to keep an eye on everything. Then there was us, Salvador the M.A.D. director and me the M.A.D. designer

and Mariani Vermeend, who had come from Holland with a friend for a visit and stayed, she was my right hand so to speak. We had placed an add in the paper and had job interviews, many people came and some got the job. Important for me was to find a seamstress who would understand me and I did! A young girl, her name was Tony. She was really incredible and eager to learn, she stayed with us through thick and thin and of course became the head seamstress. We saw her fall in love, getting married and having babies.    It was great to be in the factory , nice atmosphere, nice people and some were curious and liked what they were doing and knew they were appreciated by us and would do anything for us, like working sometimes to very late at night because things had to go…

Yes, Spain was wonderful, I love Spain and Elda was great, the nice weather, the beautiful mountains with an old castle here and there in the background, the factory and every thing one needed almost at hand… I say “almost” because at times I had to compromise for different reasons, it could be because of the great expenses, a new mold for a heel had to be made up by hand ( first cut in wood and when it is right they are made of plastic and sized to all sizes) so if I designed a special heel it was very costly to make up the molds unless you sold thousands of them which was not our case, we were just starting. But they had thousands of heel samples you could choose from of which the molds already existed, some from back in the 50-ties, all kinds of heights and shapes and there I had to compromise and get an existing one that was as close as possible to the one I had in mind. Later we were able to make up  more things like settings for the stones we found or ornaments to decorate the shoe, like buckles and chains, heels and platforms.

In the meantime I worked with the wonderful things available, Spanish brocades which were a specialty in Alicante as they use it for their traditional costumes they prepare once a year when they have something like a carnival. The good ones were hand woven and absolutely gorgeous.

One version with low heel…

.… and a higher heel (picture appeared in a magazine)

I also loved the old “mercerias”, stores where they sell ribbons and pasmanteria and tassels and other wonderful stuff, they often left me go to the back room where they kept all the things from years back, buttons and buckles and silk or plastic flowers …

Next thing we had to make the Logo,

the labels, the boxes, the cards and when all that done there was the “Elda Shoe Fair”  Hire a stand, decorate and invite as many people as possible. Most visitors were from Spain but from all over and some American buyers and press. That’s how we got our first clients and the factory started to work.

The factory, above left: Tony and right Tony with other seamstresses, a cutter, me with Olvido a young assistant, below Olvido, Marianni, me and Salvador and the last one, the shoemaker Paco and the manager…

By now I had learned a lot about shoes and could make myself a pattern or at least collaborate with the pattern maker as that is a real job and I had 1000 other things to do.

The “Lautrec” black suede with Golden wings

Me wearing them…

and a different version.

we convinced a leather company to print these leathers for us

and made belts of the pieces that were left over, you could snap them any way you wanted and make it once, twice or three times go around the body….

We were still driving up and down from Alicante to El Cuarton and back, always staying in a Hotel in Elda or Alicante, which was half an hour drive from Elda but was worth it, more comfortable in front of the beach with nice restaurants around. The fish there was so good… But there is no place like home  and being with the family was very important.

Alegria having a picnic with Kabuli our dog. We found Kabuli as a baby abandoned in a gas station, he was beautiful. A few years later he was killed by a shepherd when he went after a herd of sheep and never having seen an Afghan hound the shepherd got scared and shot him…

Alegria and Alejandro at home…

on the roof of the Muñeca, with Alegria, posing in my designs…

Marianni stayed with us and was a great help with all the work and we had fun too. Always remember driving from El Nido  to Elda in her open red Porsche through the mountains in the sunshine with the wind blowing in the hair and the music on…

 It was an exciting time, it was wonderful, we were lucky!

My Husband Salvador spend most of his time helping me in the business so he could paint less but still did some wonderful work,Next time we get deeper into shoes….