Madrid was baptized “city of the night” as the traffic at 3 in the morning would be the same as anytime during the day.

Now with a lot of time on my hands it was a good moment to explore Madrid, by day the wonderful Retiro park, the Rastro, the beautiful old cafe Gijon, the Circulo de Bellas Arte, El Prado, all wonderful places to hang out. By evening, the summer terraces all along the “Paseo del Castellana” full of people, laughter and chatter till late into the hot summer nights.. then up to “Morocco” a favorite at that time, beautiful decorations and all the colorful people of Madrid would pass through. ALASKA, the singer and actress, had something to do with it and she was often there, always marvelously dressed in her own wonderful style. Pedro Almodovar, Antonio Banderas, Marisa Paredes, Bibi Anderson, Miquel Bose and many famous singers, designers and other personalities would be a normal sight there.

me in that time showing off the new coat and bracelets I made, picture by Hugh Scofield

For some reason I was elected once “person of the month” in their monthly paper and my drinks were always free. They also promoted artists and often had a performance of sorts, very avant-garde and interesting. After “Morocco” there was “Stella”, a wonderful hot club discotheque,  till early morning hours and then coffee and churros somewhere…..
all that was wonderful but not for every night as one had to think how to pay the rent and that was not always easy, as a matter of fact it was very difficult at times and it was a lucky stroke that Salvador could sell some paintings via our longtime American friend Nancy Mehagian with whom we had stayed in touch since Ibiza. She put Salvador in touch with Angela Rich, then wife of Lee Rich, producer of the famous TV series “Dallas”. I any case she came to visit in Madrid and it was funny because she was so chic and so well dressed climbing up the 3 stairs of our old, dark and dusty downtrodden building. But once opening the door to our place… she was enchanted and bought some of Salvador’s work and that made the wheel spin for Salvador to go to Los Angeles, stay with Nancy who would manage him. You can read all about that in Alegria’s blog, CLICK HERE.

I stayed in Madrid with Alejandro who was working and Alegria who was going to school.
I was still making up my shoes, for my friends and friends of friends, on a personal level. Since my old little factory still had all my patterns and forms and would make me anything I asked for so that worked well. Then one day my friend, the fashion photographer Sylvia Polakov introduced me to Juanjo Rochefort, known fashion designer in Madrid, he asked me to work with him and that’s what I did. I made hundreds of designs for him, he had all the famous very lady like society clients and it was great fun….
here are some of them….

 A Gallery asked me to do an exhibition of my shoe work, but that’s for next time….



                                                                                                   pic. by Alejandro van Rooy

That was it! We got the news without suspecting a thing so it really blew us away… The factory that produced my shoes was declared bankrupt and closed to everybody! Wow… this was due to the fact that the dollar had gone down to almost half its former value, and the factory that only worked with America, had a deal to get paid in dollars. This time the dollar went so far down that the factory went down with it, me included! Of course I had actually nothing to do with it and I even had an eight page contract, but what to do? I tried and tried and talked with who ever I thought could help but they had been so kind to offer me what they did; and now when there was no money, was I to sue them on top of that? No way, the hassle alone would make me feel bad and so I was pretty stuck, no patterns, no models, no way to send whatever was ready to the clients who were angry with me (and that was very understandable).

A great shoe store in NY called ” Tootsy Plohound” had finally, after many years, come to trust us enough to make  an enormous order of about half his stock and now they were getting nothing. Time was running out and everybody was terribly upset with me, so now where to turn? Here we were with a big debt to pay to the bank, a store that hardly worked, a factory that was closed. Many shoe factories in Elda closed down at that time but the people that had worked in our own factory were still there… and as a matter of fact they were selling copies of my shoes to my Spanish clients as they still had patterns, forms and samples of mine! That was an other “slap in the face” so to speak because the designs, patterns and the forms were mine but at the same time they were not; The people of my old factory had no taste and would badly improvise and use different materials and so on,  but at least they did not put my name on the shoes. I would forgive them if they would do my shoes again and save what could be saved and they agreed. We needed money to go on and via friends in Holland we found, or they found us, I don’t remember, a Dutchman who lived near where the shoe factory was . He had an old castle he was restoring and owned a lot of properties around there. He was a business man and was ready to invest money to restart the whole thing. He had an American girlfriend who was going to supervise the factory  so that would give me the liberty to just design. It was a lot of hard work to put the little factory back together again and make the collection again but we more or less did. Now it was very important to me to do the Fashion Fair in Paris to show we were still there and going strong. First my investor would not agree ” too much money” and indeed it was expensive but one has to make publicity. In the end I got my way and we all went to Paris…

It was quite successful and we got some very nice orders a.o. from Niemann and Marcus, very chic..

When I was in Los Angeles I went to see the store on Wilshire Blvd, very chic indeed and there it was, my hand bags beautifully displayed near the entrance in a room by its own, my handbags and Paloma Picasso handbags side by side, Wow! Come to think of it I also sold my handbags well in a store that Gunilla Lindblad had opened in Paris, which was a beautiful store…

But then again, American Vogue was so enthusiast that they asked for a lot of models of shoes and bags and belts to photograph and I thought this was great. For me it was very important to be in the magazines but the Dutchman did not agree- too expensive! Yes indeed it is expensive to make up the models in big sizes before the production because it has to be specially done, the patterns have to be scaled and a cutter and seamstress have to make up the model one by one and then of course the magazines don’t pay for them, but in exchange you get that great publicity! I always made up a bunch of models to be photographed by the magazines but now could not do it,  I did not get my way which made me very sad and things never got better when the time went on…

One day I made a surprise visit from Madrid to the factory in Elda and saw to my astonishment that the factory was making completely different eventless shoes that were designed by the American girlfriend who was supposed to oversee my production, now using the factory with my forms and my people to make her own stuff, which was far from exciting, and try to sell them to my clients.
Sometimes things are too much, I felt betrayed, I felt lost and I had to let go… I had to let go for the good of my family and my sanity…. So that was it!
Gave up the shop, oh oh , all the work it had been, gave up the factory and gave up everything. We left the people who had always worked with us, all the things of the factory that were ours and I gave them permission to copy my shoes as long as they did not use my name.

in silk and gold cord decoration, every shoe done by hand..

 In the Footwear news, lots of silk and crosses full of stones..

satin and golden or silver cross…

 Brocade boot with black cord decoration, all done by hand…

 Suede and gold leather with heart full of stones..

Postcard I made for the clients..

Gold leather flats, very soft..

 more shoes, suede and crosses and gold and stones…

It was a difficult time but at the same time a time to be creative and do things one has normally no time for and my paintbrushes were ready….,