REFLECTIONS, REFLECTIONS

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…

LOVE and PEACE

HALLO AMSTERDAM

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

LOVE and PEACE

DOWN TOWN L.A.

             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…

LOVE and PEACE

WEDDING, EARTQUAKE and CROSSES

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…

LOVE and PEACE 

DESIGNING FOR PAULA ABDUL

We just arrived in LA, it is June 2 1992, Salvador, who was already there, came with Nancy to pick us up. It felt good to be in Los Angeles again, the first time I was there was 1968 so that was 24 years back and it looked quite different but smelled the same, that balmy air in the evening filled with gas-exhaustion and honeysuckle.
Here (above) we are in Nancy’s kitchen when we just arrived, Alegria went straight to sleep so she is not in the picture. All together we spent a lot of time in Nancy’s kitchen during the time we stayed with her, which was almost a year and it was a real blessing. She is such a good cook, very health conscious and many other good things, Check her here! She would take us hiking early in the morning to that big mountain without end. In the beginning you arrive huffing and puffing and think you will not do it again but you get better at it every day and the view at the top overlooking The Valley makes it even better. Nancy went everyday and on one of these hikes she met Paula Abdul who was hiking there as well, and somehow Nancy talked to her about me (she is a good agent) and Paula gave her number and told Nancy to have me call her.

I drove upto Paula’s house in our big vintage Buick and Paula herself opened the door of her  house in a gated property somewhere in Beverly  Glenn. She looked very cute, small and delicate with a lovely open face, I felt good immediately. For the occasion I had dressed up with my latest creation and my shoes from the last collection hoping to make a good first impression, ha ha, and I did because she made me meet her lawyers and manager so they could work on getting me a working permit and decide what kind of contract they were going to put up for me. It took quite something to get me that working permit, lots and lots of paper work to proof she could not do without me. After some time I got it and I was to be on a monthly  retaining salary (a good one) until the day she was going to work on her world tour, which was planned for the following year, she first had to come out with her new CD. Well, honestly, this could not be better, going around the world for a year taking care of and designing the costumes for Paula Abdul and her Dance group, wow, what a dream. For the moment I was just to design things for her if there was a special event, like a TV interview or her workout tape she was preparing and for that I was paid separately. I also would go shopping with her at times but mostly there was not much I HAD to do but I made her myself a bunch of outfits and she looked so amazing in them that it was a real pleasure for me to do. It was really nice to work with her, she was very kind and funny, she introduced us to Emilio Estebez and some of his friends, to her mother and sister, took us to some VIP performances of her friends, like Prince, and what I most enjoyed was going with her when dancers came to audition. Young dancers full of energy and hope and wow, some were very very good. Of course Paula is an extra ordinary dancer herself, as a matter of fact she is amazing. Remember so well that Video-clip her dancing with an animated cat, every time it came on we used to look at it. I realized how hard it is to be so in the public eye, all the things you have to hear and read, its devastating. But that’s the price you pay I guess. Let me show you a few things I did for her, so sorry in that time there were no iPhones and so on, it was sometimes complicated to take a picture, the big camera you have to prepare, and it is a very sensitive matter to take pictures of a famous person. They have enough pictures taken already and in my contract I had to promise never tell or show anything personal to anybody about Paula… so I won’t, what I am showing here is public and mostly pictures made by me with her permission.

This is the first thing I designed for her, had the boots made up in Spain to go with the suit which I had sewn up by a seamstress, the vest I made myself for her. This picture was in a newspaper.

this dress I made for her for a TV program in memory of Bob Hope where she was to give a speech.

rehearsing the text in the limousine on her way to the show..

This dress looked great on her I thought.. here with Emilio Estebez.

Ready for her filmed interview to promote her workout dance video. The knee length jacket is silk with the collar of bright yellow taffeta silk worked with black ribbon. The same brocade vest as she is wearing with the suit, it was very fitting which made her a very nice figure. I even made the buttons I see.. and of course the bracelets.

 I made her this for her work out tape

Purple velvet coat with silk animal print lining and purple “purple heart” boots and gold leather bracelets… and even the necklace I made…

I made her this coat for the Arsenio Hall show she was going to appear on. Alejandro is holding it here and some of his input is worked in there. The material was vintage from a famous weaver in Spain combined with black lace. She talked about me to Arsenio who loved her style and kept looking at her boots… .

 

I actually made this one of silver lamé combined with black lace  and decorated with lots of “silver” lognets hanging …

these are just a few, made lots of drawings for her but only some were made up of course.

I also designed a whole collection of Work out Dance wear ….

Too many to show here, it would be a book but it certainly was a lot of fun, I could work when I wanted and where I wanted unless it was something specific.

I made this picture of her while she was being photographed for a Spanish Magazine, she knows how to pose very well, no wonder, as she is such a far-out dancer.. I think modeling has something to do with dancing in the sense that in both cases you are conscious and controlling your body to get a certain result.

But.. after the excitement came the disappointment because Paula never went on that world tour and so they did not need me anymore. It had been a wonderful one and a half year and am glad I met her but it was time again to look for new horizons…..

Don’t forget to look up Alegria’s blog to see what Salvador is creating,!

 LOVE and PEACE

 

HASTA LUEGO MADRID…

Yes, we are leaving for Los Angeles but before we left I made a collection of sunglasses which was great fun. The whole family put their ideas in and because the Olympics were going to be in Barcelona we made some special designs for that occasion. We hoped to sell them and we tried, but no success. Like we tried one company that produces fairly nice glasses, they looked at all the drawings attentively and then said : No. thats not for us, but in the meantime they saw all the designs . So that was it, we did not really try too hard to sell them but here they are…

Sunglasses designs, Madrid 1992

Now Alegria and I are really leaving for Los Angeles, it’s July 1992 and Salvador will meet us there while Alejandro is going to stay in Madrid.
Hasta luego Madrid, for sure we visit again….

LOVE and PEACE

MY SHOE EXHIBITION, the world at your feet.

It was the end of 1990 when the opening of my exhibition took place, lots of people, friends and shoe fans joined me in this quiet unusual event. Unusual because it was hardly ever done before, at least in Madrid, to have an exhibition of Fashion rather then paintings or sculptures. It was great fun , I had been painting shoes, had plenty of drawings and models of the shoes I had made. Salvador specially made a portrait of me and other things we prepared together. Alejandro helped with his always brilliant ideas and with very little money but a lot of input , we made it look great.

the official invitation for the opening 
 .. and the first page of my exhibition guestbook by the very appreciated painter Sygfrido martin Beque

The whole idea to do an exhibition came months before when Gallery AF contacted me and asked me if I would be interested and of course I was. I was making little paintings of my shoes and since it was the first time I worked in oil I got very involved and it was hard to get up from the chair in front of the easel,  just like Salvador who once he gets in front of his work does not hear or see anything else and you can talk to him, it does not enter and he does not eat unless you put it in front of him and insist, that till as late as light permits. Well, with some instructions and insights from Salvador, I arrived at this…

and this…

and these…

below portrait salvador did of me, it was life-size and its a pity here you can’t see the feet with my blue and gold shoes…

Psychedelic

and some drawings

love boots..

and shoes, shoes, shoes..

 This was a critic of my exhibition in Spanish Elle, march 1991, and I will translate it here in case you don’t speak spanish.

Exposing or die

The where and why of Fashion is not limited to catwalks and specialized fairs. There is a step in between the design and the consumption of Fashion: the Art galleries, which are bringing  the outsider designers more near the general public.

During the last month of last year we saw a lot of exhibitions, the one I liked best was of the designer of the Atomic-Venetian shoes and complements Willy van Rooy. The marvelous shoes of Willy have a life of their own and also history. The tittle” The world at your feet” is an irony, although I would have preferred something like ” splitting hairs” That is what the designer is looking for and finds, disproving the cursed saying. Nothing better than a Gallery to show this daring artistry that would not have had the leading part on the cat-walk.

and yes, now thinking about it 20 years later, it was a perfect closure of my shoe designing time.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

designing jewelry…

..here drawn on Linda, 1991

Some of the hats I designed which I photographed here on Celine, my friend with the striking face. She was not a model but I thought her very beautiful….

and below the wedding dress I designed for Angelique when she married Louis Cobos, renowned director-conductor and composer.

Salvador was doing well in Los Angeles and Alegria and I prepared to go there now… Alejandro wanted to stay, so he stayed in the apartment and Alegria and I arrived in LA on the 2nd of July 1992 where Salvador, Nancy and another adventure was awaiting us.

 picture Hugh Scofield

Don’t forget to go to Alegria’s post where you can follow Salvador Maron

LOVE and PEACE

MADRID, CITY OF COLORFUL NIGHTS…

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….

LOVE and PEACE

HARD RAIN WAS GONNA FALL…

                                                                                                   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….,

LOVE and PEACE

TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING

It is around 1990-91…All seemed well, the shop was in place, orders from great stores from all over the world were coming in, it could not be better, so what could happen?
Well, anything could happen and did happen and like they say when it rains it pours!
It started with the new shop in the Mall which was now officially opened and got a lot of publicity in the papers and TV, and in the beginning a lot of people were coming but after about a year the Mall became a very quiet place and it often looked completely empty. Because of that, many shops were closing which made it even worse and on top the clients were complaining how difficult it was to get there. To park a car was too far away and the Taxis, which is a favorite means of transport in Madrid, could not stop right in front of the building so the people had to walk a small distance but when it rained or snowed the short distance became a long distance. Our clients, of which many were celebrities, were used to stop right in front of the shop and hop in, that was very private and agreeable and they liked it that way. In the Mall they had to go on the rolling stairs and walk quiet a bit in public before reaching our shop and most of them did not like that. The whole deal of the Mall was not that good as it had seemed at first, the rent, which went by the meters (or feet) you occupied, was very high as our shop was pretty big, a quarter of the size would have been sufficient but my mind saw it big with many more things I wanted to design and sell. So even that we ourselves had made the shop out of nothing, we had to pay a rent and the bills of electricity were high, the bills and the interest for the loan of the bank to make the shop were sometimes impossible to pay. It was a hard time and on top of everything the shop in Piamonte had to go because they were indeed going to tear down the building.

There were also very good moments though, very nice people came to the shop, among them Sharon Stone who was filming in Madrid, Gabriel Carcia Marquez with his wife and Pedro Almodovar always had our shoes in his films and so on; but the bills were suffocating us and then… more bad news were soon to be coming our way…

In the meantime the latest collection was in the stores and a new collection was ready to go into production….

wish I had all these now

… or these..

or any of these…

My very favorite

Rocky, the best seller, there were 7 different Rockies and this is Rocky 7

The hairy shoe

In Madrid, wearing my booties and everything else made by me. Alejandro made this picture.

idea for the shop window Puerta de Toledo.

designing shoes

designing clothes

and making pictures of my fav models Alegria and Ava, here in Paris.

and so things were going and moving and changing…

LOVE and PEACE