This is an interview that appeared in a Bulgarian fashion Magazine. Sept. 2011

This is the story of a Dutch girl who becomes successively supermodel, super mannequin and super designer. Her name is Willy van Rooy. She was born on April 1, 1941 in The Hague. Her career as a model formally begins at age 26, nowadays retirement age,with the measures 89-60-91 and height 173 cm ( 5,7.5) .At that time models were often doing their own make up and hair and went around with large suitcases with wigs, shoes and Gloves.

Before she stood in front of the lenses of Norman Parkinson, William Klein and David Bailey, Willy worked in Spain doing TV commercials of hair products, carpets and so on. In the 70’s she walked the shows in Paris for Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Thierry Mugler, JP. Gaultier and many others. She appeared on this cover of Vogue and generally on the pages of Bazaar, Elle and all the major Fashion magazines.

They call her the favorite of Helmut Newton.

At one point, Willy van Rooy began to think of designing accessories for Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. In the 80’s she settled in Spain and produced her own line of shoes with great success. Her clients were Madonna, Cher, the Pointer sisters and many other celebrities.

At the end of the following decade, she moved briefly to Los Angeles, where she was the personal designer of Paula Abdul.

Paula Abdul . L.A 1993

Today Willy van Rooy lives with her husband in LA, California,

continues to make jewelry that sells online at

She loves to paint, sew, make pictures and work with the Photoshop.

Her career has been immortalized in the French Dictionary of Fashion and books about Yves Saint Laurent, Helmut Newton, Karl Lagerfeld.

YSL Green Fur, pict. by Hans Feurer

                          drawing of Anna Piaggi in my dress  by Karl Lagerfeld

Willy Van Rooy on the cover of Vogue, photographed by David Bailey. September 1967

Question:  What does a typical day of yours look like?

WVR; Ha ha, well I get up around 9 and like to go for a walk ( which does not always happen) , breakfast and so on, my husband starts painting and I check my emails and Face book and start doing what I feel like doing, I draw a lot or make a piece of jewelry or sew something for myself or make a hat or work on the computer, time flies. In the evening I often look at a movie, talk over the phone with my daughter or with friends and thats it, mostly home, which I love

Q; What are you currently working on, your newest project?

WVR; working on a book about my shoes and the 10 years I spend making them. I have tons of great pictures and since I started doing it without knowing anything about making shoes, I can tell the how and what of it, at least how it was for me. Hope its going to be funny and inspirational.

Q; What is fashion (business, art, profession, passion, brands, part of culture)?

WVR; I think Fashion is or can be all of that, its for sure a business, and a big one, sometimes it is Art and often a passion, brands? I never cared about brands too much and maybe that has nothing particular to do with Fashion as anything can have a brand name but on the other hand quality often comes with the brand name, like when i get a YSL dress I am sure it is well made or if I get a Mercedes, you know…. Part of a culture? yes of course, through the ages it has been part of life everywhere, that is since mankind started to dress, even the lion cloth or the grape leave….all part of fashion and culture.

Q; How did the definition/notion of fashion change over the past few decades?

WVR; It became much more popular and fashion items are copied in no time and there is much more hype around it in the sense that it is a topic a lot of people are interested in and with all the new communication things go fast and fashion images pop up everywhere but the passion for it is the same I think, there are just many more people now.

Q; Did you like the film The Devil Wears Prada? Did the movie surprise you with something new, a truth, a fact you didn’t know or have not observed in the fashion world before?

WVR. I liked the movie ( mostly because I like Merrel Streep)but was very surprised how they interpreted the Editor in chief, I myself have been around to all this offices and never saw anything like that, only know them to be kind and funny but I imagine that now maybe it is a little bit like that, see the documentary of Ann Wintour “September issue”.

Q; Isn’t it unfashionable to even talk about fashion nowadays, amidst democratization of style, when we have (seen) too much of everything, when it is almost impossible to come up with a fresh, original idea and everything is eclectic, mixing old concepts in a new way?

WVR; Is it? I mean unfashionable to talk about Fashion? We have seen a lot but by far not everything, I keep seeing many new things that were not possible before because the people were not ready for it and I think future inventions of new materials and so on will keep things going. Yes old concepts are mixed with new ones and it has always been like that because we have a body with 2 arms, 2 legs and so on and that is all the space the designers have to work on so it is logic that a dress is always a dress and that’s exactly why Fashion is so fascinating, new ideas and images coming out of the same source, which is the body and the time that this body is going through. So I say lets talk about Fashion because fashion is influenced by so many things like politics, art, culture, economics which are all influenced by the time we are living in and that is all so very interesting.

Q; What is style?

WVR; I can not describe style, you have it or you don’t have it, you are born with it and carry it all your life and it develops because of many influences that correspond with your “style”. So if you are creatively busy it even gets recognizable, ” his style is avant-garde” or she has “lots of style” or ” that’s their style”.

Q; How did you develop your own personal style?

WVR; see answer above

Q; What is taste?

WVR; Usually when we talk about taste we mean the eye for finding the good things, the right things, the beautiful things and this has nothing to do with money, you can have a great taste and find far out things in the Salvation Army or have no taste and buy the most expensive just because it is expensive or somebody told you, and there are some who have both and some who have none. (This is a complicated question once you really start to think about it so I leave it at that.)

Q; By the way, do you have any explanation why nouveau riche (in Bulgaria and Russia especially) are so crazy about Versace, Ferre and Cavalli, before any other brand?

WVR; I think because when communism was reigning things were sober and a bit dark and now the people who can, like to show off and enjoy it, both Versace and Cavalli are very Barock and “loud” so to speak and very noticeable, Ferre I don’t understand really. I would be very interested to know your vision.

Q;  When you see a person, woman or man, what details of their appearance do you pay attention to?

WVR; The eyes, you can see a lot of things there and of the clothing I think the shoes, but still, it is the air around the person that gives the very first impression.

Q; What is elegance?

WVR; A way of behaving and of carrying one self? Again it has nothing to do with money and you have it or you don’t, then again there are many levels which are in the eye of the beholder but in general I think Elegance means harmony, kindness and in a certain way intelligence.

Q; Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

WVR; everywhere

Q; Which are your favorite materials? And colors?

WVR; If talking jewelry its Rubies and pearls, if talking clothing I like silk and cashmere and beautiful cottons and brocades, my favorite colors are gold, red and black but I really like all colors and like to see them mixed together

Q; Do you have a picture in your mind of the type of woman who would wear your creations? How would you define her?

WVR; A rather individual woman , when I had a store in Paris or a shoe store in Madrid my clients were often actresses or singers or woman who like something different and like my “style”. There is no age pattern or size that I can put to it, when I made my Tunic Unique in Paris my clients were from 15 to 80 years and thin and big, short and tall, gay or straight, I would say all kinds of woman but they are usually a little special to like my things.









Left; Paloma Picasso                                                 Right; Lou Lou de la Falaise Klowkoski.

Q; How new technologies influence fashion and creativity?

WVR; wonderfully, a whole new way is exploding.

Q; Do you miss the pre-Photoshop reality?

WVR; Not at all, work with it a lot. Now when it is overdone it is not cool but in general I think it is an amazing thing but like with everything else, it is not the photoshop but what you do with it and some people are so good with it they do beautiful work. In the pre PS days they also retouched but it was a lot more work for less effect, I can tell you that they retouched the Vogue covers and beauties as well by hand ( maybe a bit less then now).

Q; Which were the greatest achievements of your generation (in fashion and in general)

WVR; I think my generation brought a lot of freedom, in fashion and in general, a break with the old rules which kept evolving till now and is still evolving and now almost anything goes. There was a lot of spirituality and we were getting more conscious than the generation before of what was going on and that with all the new technology has been growing and growing and no one knows where this will end.

Q; Who are the top models of today that you like?

WVR; Douske and Natalia Vodianova, Karin Elson,  Guinevere, Kate Moss and some other great looking girls I don’t know the name of, I always like Linda Evangelista, she is a real Super model.

With Linda E for Italian Vogue by Steven Meisel. sept. 2008

Q; One photographer you wish you have worked with?

WVR; Irving Penn. I just love the elegance of his photographs. He did do a fantastic picture of my shoe in American Vogue though and that was even better.

Pict. by Irving Penn for American Vogue

Q; Your best memory from modeling?

WVR; There are too many…..

Q; Would you please describe for us your favorite clothes, shoes and accessories? (or send us a photo:)

WVR; things I make myself, sorry that is very boring but my whole life I only wear my own clothes, some are more then 20 years old but still get compliments on them so it must be all good. Shoes are also my own still find them on Ebay, new in the box, my size, for a scrap of the price they were so I still wear my own shoes too and my own belts , bags and jewelry, I am used to that and feel familiar with them, I never buy clothes or maybe something outrageously beautiful vintage may catch my eye….

with Alejandro in paris 1970

Leather designs in NY. 1968

my Tunic-Unique collection, paris 1977. pict. by Francois Lamy.

Salvador and Alijah in my Tshirts 2011

Q; What is the future of fashion?

WVR; Who knows? More incredible materials that give heat or cold upon demand and shines in the dark, that are ultra thin and light but still very functional, patterns cut in one go to make a dress in a computerized machine and more of the same for everybody like sort of space suits as in the science Fiction movies, who knows what the weather will be like and the air? and travel into space will make a big step…. Who knows?????

Translated from Bulgarian,  Oct 2011

Interview by Krasi Genova for a bulgarian Fashion magazine Sept 2010

Well this was a special post, I quite liked this interview and wanted to share it with you. Don’t forget to check Alegria’s blog: Click Here

                                              and like always LOVE and PEACE


Hi dear friends, I know, it has been a while but there are always so many other nice things  to do… but here I am and this is one of my last posts in this blog, maybe one or 2 more but after that I would like to do an other kind of blog, have to think about it. Up till now I have told you a bit of my story, things I have done and the places I have been and in this post I like to talk to you again about the time I lived in Amsterdam, from 1999 till 2006, and the time I was working in a store called “Reflections” owned by a friend. It was the hottest Fashion store in the country in the hottest street in Amsterdam, the famous PC. Hooftstraat. It was a great store and the nice thing was that I went with the owner on the buying trips to Paris and Milan to see all the shows like ” Comme the Garçons”, Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, John Galliano (Dior) or discovering new designers like Theykens or Isabel Marant. In Milan Dolce and Gabanna, Marni, Ruffo, Romeo Gigly and others. All that was wonderful but what I enjoyed most of all was doing the window displays…

some of them

It was in that time that my thoughts went back to the window doll they had made of me in London in 1968. Not that they had a a window doll of mine in the store there but I wanted the ones that were there to be restored and touched up. So I looked up a place and went to see them. Honestly, the man that opened the door almost fainted, he recognized me immediately and said; you are Willy van Rooy! Oh my, I have painted your face more then 250.000 times! All the dolls sold in the Benelux went through my hands… about at least 250.000 of them

Thats when it went “click” in my head because if only in the Benelux ( Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) there were already 250.000 sold, then… I knew in Germany they were all over the place, I saw them there in big Department stores, in Spain, Italy and the USA, where I also saw them. All together it could be half a million or even more, the man in Holland told me it was the most popular mannequin ever… I had no idea! OK, so lets see, I was getting 1 pound ( then around 11 guilders ) per doll sold as a royalty which was going directly to my Bank and for which I had opened a special savings account in the Barclay Bank. They had been giving me a pretty little dark red savings account bank book.

For my Dutch friends, here you can read all about it, a full page in the “Telegraaf

In the beginning, when staying in Marbella, I took sometimes some money off that account and all was well, once we started traveling it became more complicated, it was 1968 and there were no machines with world-passes where you could take out your money anywhere in the world, like now. In Brazil there was no Barclay Bank and I did not think about it further. Later in America I could not find my lovely bankbook and again I forgot about it, I had no idea so many dolls were sold and I never more went after it until that moment this man told me that it had been a bestseller. Now about 40 years later I woke up…

This little book was made by a dutch photographer in that time of all the windows in a store in Rotterdam, Holland. A Dutch face-book friend send me the link a few months ago and after the Photographer Piet van Leeuwen sent me the little book which is very nice, here are the pages in small, very funny to see so many “Willies”,  the clothes very interesting and the wigs hilarious.

Well, I contacted the Barclay bank and after a lot of back and forth of paper work they told me that it was too far back, they had everything on computer for 30 years back but mine was almost 40 years. To go more back than 30 years is possible but very complicated, more so because I was no longer in possession of that little book. They advised me to take a lawyer in London and I tried but they wanted money up front and who knows where that would lead?

This is part of a spread in the English Vogue of 1968 by Helmut Newton…. and just a few days ago a face-book friend sent me the one here under, which is from the same series but a different shot in a book about Newton, can you read what he says?

Things change a lot in so many years and the people involved are not in the same place anymore… Amazing… in fact if all was well and things were done correctly by everyone, the money should be there and with the 44 years of interest… I could be now a millionaire just like the “Telegraaf” said in 1968. That is if all was done right, but I cannot be sure if the producers of the doll were honest and dutifully deposited the money in my account and like I said that is complicated to find out. As a matter of fact I think it would be an interesting documentary ” Looking for the money” in which I am followed to do the whole procedure and if the money is there.. Great! if not, its still a documentary that can go anywhere… Ha ha, Just having ideas…

So funny how things go but that was that, I myself have 2 of my image in a storage in Spain and they also made copies of the bust and face in white plastic, we bought some in Spain in the 80-ties…and I still saw a good one not long ago in the” American store” in Amsterdam…..

Salvador in front of the “American store” with my window doll in Amsterdam 2004.

Many things happened in the time we lived in Amsterdam, from 1999 till 2006 we changed houses 6 times and when Reflections closed I worked with the Dutch designer Carla Lapre for a while and I did a photo shoot, as a photographer, for the HP ” De Tijd” of the important Dutch writer Gerard Reve, a few months before he passed away. I am proud of that one!

Here with Joop Schafthuizen


It is spring 2006 and we are packing again, this time back to LA. to be near to Alegria and her family. After 2 years in L.A. we went to Oregon, but that next time…



Amsterdam, beautiful city of my homeland

Self portrait with Salvador, my studio in the “Gold Coast” Amsterdam

It had been so long since I saw Holland for the last time… more than 30 years, apart from a few very brief visits. Very exciting to hear your own language everywhere. It was December and freezing cold which was a big change from Canary islands where we came from but it was beautiful, all these canals and antique buildings, it made a flood of memories come back. Later I realized how much it had changed, where were all the loempia, patat frites, croquettes and the famous “broodjes”? Falafels and cheskebab took its place ( very good too) but still, there was my favorite salty herrings though, now 20x more expensive but equally delicious. Yes it was great, the markets, the museums and the beauty of the city where you can walk for hours, which we like to do. The problem was the housing because they have long waiting lists of people who were there before us, they have a very special system in Holland. We were looking for an artist studio which was quiet possible then, 30 years ago, but now the waiting list was so long… unless you can afford a $4000 or more rent a month. With money everything is possible but with friends too. We first stayed with longtime friends who have a lovely house but when we had the chance to rent another friend’s place for half a year because he was not going to be there, we took that opportunity and it was a really nice place too. Four flights up so one had to think really before going shopping but it was overlooking a canal where big and small boats would pass which you could see between the weeping willow trees. After that we were lucky to find a friend of a friend who was going on a proof move to Australia and again we could rent a place for half a year. Rents are high in Amsterdam so we had to make sure to make the money every month to pay the rent. This house was right on the water, the garden was boarding a beautiful river where swans and ducks of all kinds would swim by… but the friends  came back from Australia unexpectedly so now we had to be looking for our next stop as we had not made much progress on the list. Luckily there was our friend Angelique, who had a shop in Amsterdam where she sold our shoes when we made them and she had a friend, Max, who was dealing in Real estate and who let us rent an incredible house that was eventually to be sold. It had 3 huge floors overlooking the Amstel, the most famous canal in Amsterdam, and just opposite the Amstel Hotel. The third floor was a real artist studio, all redone and gorgeous and Salvador did some incredible paintings there.

this is one of them…” overlooking the Amstel”.

and this is half the studio, a friend from Spain made this picture when he visited us there and years later he sent it to me on Face book..

me at my working table making jewelry and little bags

and here is some of it, the front and back were totally different …. and none the same.

and some I did for a shop of friends that sold leather clothes,  l like to make the inside as cool as the outside

Some of the bracelets I made by hand sewing ribbons and stones, they were copied a lot…

Sometimes I worked as a model but really only sometimes. I enjoyed working with Paul Bellaart a lot, he is really good and was pleasant to work with, did several shoots with him but otherwise I found it difficult and I was doing other things…


editorial by Paul Bellaart for dutch fashion magazine.


other little things I liked to do, like painting lamps.. and this little doll I made for Max..

and then we moved again to another of Max’s places and that were an other 3 floors in the chicest part of Amsterdam called ” the Gold Coast”. Wow, what a house, still totally decorated from the 70-ties with a beautiful garden, 2 steps from the Vondel park. It was so big that we each had an enormous studio and I even had a dark room and a photostudio,

self portraits in my studio

what more could one ask for? Around the corner lived one of the Dutch princes so you can imagine what it was when they, in these streets, were redoing a house and put all their stuff on the street. We found the most gorgeous vintage things there just thrown away… I remember clearly the time we finally moved to our own place because it was the time of the Twin Tower disaster which I saw on direct TV in bed because I was not feeling well, still in the old place as we were moving and Salvador was working in our new place breaking down some walls…Next time more about Holland



             Salvador made this drawing of this hotel or drug house opposite our house…

Moving downtown , the Adams district, was quite an experience, Now 16 years later it has become sort of  fashionable for Artist and Architects.  It was already starting then,the owners of the house we rented were architects. The houses are beautiful with all wooden floors and stairs and some with walls with original paintings from the early twenties or even before. The house we found was all completely restored with original lamps and so on but a super modern kitchen. Lots of space to work, a garden with a fig tree that gave the best figs we ever tasted. We had heard how rough it could be around there because of heavy drugs and nut cakes, which was quite true. We discovered the house had some bullet holes in the front window and everything around the neighborhood looked quite suspicious to our eyes. The first night we were going to sleep there we came home late because we had gone to dinner with friends and this was the first time we were there at night. When we got out of the car we heard a fight starting really nearby , screams and curses and soon sirens and we got really nervous and Salvador who was trying to open the door…. but it would not go and because it was dark, no light around, he could not find where to put that key… it was scary but of course also very funny and once in the house we laughed a lot about it. I could fill pages and pages with the stories of that place and surroundings but let me say just this, once we got to know the people around, although all were cases, we became  friendly with some of them and I must say we were very respected and never bothered even that we often had the front door unlocked. Now, it became very different when we moved out… We had hidden the key for the owners but they called us the next day that everything in the house was gone! No broken locks but all, including heavy new fridge, washer and dryer and an incredible old fashioned enormous heavy stove, the antique lamps and pieces of furniture had gone, everything! We felt terrible and realized we had been closely watched and once we moved…. they must have been very organized to pull that off…

This was the dining room and to the left my office, painting by Salvador Maron

Painting of Salvador’s studio by Salvador

While living there I started to work for BCBGas the brother of the owner was someone we knew and offered me the job to design accessories for them. At first I could work at home and loved it but later they wanted me to be there every day and I had to drive to down- down town industrial area, what a traffic…  in the heat in my old big Buick….

 I made lots of designs for hand bags and shoes….


could not help to design besides the bags also the clothes and jewelry


these are only some of them, I made hundreds but at a point they wanted me to work in the main building in industrial down-town. The way to get there was hellish, so much traffic that it took me more or less an hour to get there, ( I don’t even know how I made it in that big Buick in the heat and the bad driver I am) and the same to get back both in the rush hour. They had me do different things there but mostly they wanted me to interpret Dolce & Gabana or Prada or Gucci hand bags as soon as the new collections came out, the same day, the same hour.. It was not really my thing and I gave up after a few months.
Then came the time Salvador wanted to go to Canary Islands because his mother was not well, I stayed a few more months with Alegria who had her own apartment now and then I followed Salvador to Spain…
Like always I did make some pictures…

the actress Tawny Kitaen with her baby L.A. 1993, she liked my shoes.

Actor Howard Hesseman with his wife Caroline, Salvador made 2 portraits of her, 1 of her face and 1 of her legs because they were very pretty…



IN 1993, on my birthday April 1, Salvador and I got married after being together for 25 years. The idea came really from Nancy (Mehagian), she knew Marshal Ho who was a Tai-Chi master a.o. things, (we used to go do Tai-Chi in the park where he was teaching on certain days) but he was also a legal minister- and so that is how it happened.

A TAO ceremony in the most beautiful Cathedral “The Park” in spring, in the “City of Angels”, on a gorgeous day.

It was a great ceremony and great to have our friends around to share that special time.

Armen, Salvador, me, Alegria, Nancy and Marshal Ho

The Incense, part of the ceremony sharing here with friends of which some had come from Amsterdam or Paris and you can see Paula Abdul there and the lovely actress Betsy Palmer ( we were staying in her beautiful property for a while)….

Friends, Coco and Peter Conn, had opened their house to us and all our friends. Their house was near the park so it was easy for the guests to get there and so after the ceremony we all went there to celebrate and have dinner…. And what a dinner it was, not just any dinner but great specialties of “Nancy the amazing cook“, assisted by her friend (who was then the cook of Kevin Costner) and the overlooking eye of Nancy’s mom, also an incredible cook. They started the day before and they cooked for hours on end but for everyone who was there, it certainly was an unforgettable feast.

The next big thing that really shook us was the Northridge Earthquake of 1994. I had just that evening come back from a trip to Madrid and after celebrating  till around 3 I fell asleep totally exhausted to be woken up a little later by an incredible sound of rumbling and it came more near and louder and yes, wow, the house was shaken like a toy. We usually sleep on a futon on the floor and I had pain in all my bones for weeks because of the shaking, a painting fell on our head and you have no time to think… Alegria had a friend staying with her in her room and they came running pale and shocked into our bedroom…. the sound was really very impressing. The house we were living in was made mostly of glass, a beautiful  60-ties House designed by a known architect and the sound of all that glass windows breaking, plus all the bottles in the kitchen where wine and olive oil were mixing on the floor… it was incredible and yes, I was very scared! A little later when the sun came up we got the courage to go to the street and have a look. Ventura Blvd had lots of people standing in the middle of the road in pajamas and with bags, shop windows were shattered and fires were going on nearby…

 house made of glass..
The aftershocks were so big that I saw the water in the pool go up like an enormous wave and fall back in…

After all that excitement came the truth, the house was inspected and declared “dangerous” because she had moved from her foundation and so the owners decided to sell rather then restore. We did find a buyer for them but we could stay still for months.
Salvador went to Canary Islands to prepare an exhibition ( read here all about it) and me with my friends Susan Bottomly and Dr. Patricia Snyder set up a company and we started to sell the crosses I was making. In Spain I had started to make jewelry of plexiglass, love that material, so much to do with it and the colors so beautiful.

mostly crosses and now I was also making crosses of Fimo clay, stuff you bake in the oven. I was making them, Susan, who knew everybody, was selling and Patricia was doing the marketing and so on.

                                        me and Susan          ( pic. salvador

Some of the jewelry went to interesting people and the magazines were ready but we could not do it without investment.. we tried and we worked very hard but it was not to be, too complicated! Susan moved to Hawaii and when Salvador came back from Spain, we moved to downtown LA and I started to design for BCBG…