I recently had the pleasure of spending some time with Norman Vilalta and I must admit it was a great time. Rewind a few years and lets talk about the history. For me, when I first heard about Norman, I felt a connection with him, even though we had yet to meet, speak or have any sort of contact. That may sound weird, but our history was quite similar. His a bit different but as a grand idea, quite similar. You see, like myself, Norman one day decided that he was going to pack up his life (from Argentina where he was lawyer) and go study shoemaking in Europe. It is the same thing that I did, although I had planned it out whereas I think Norman’s was more of a epiphany that he just ran with. But our adventures took us both to the late Stefano Bemer, where we undertook bespoke shoemaking training. Norman spent a little over a year there and then then moved to Barcelona to carry on with what he learned but under his own name, Norman Vilalta.
So when I first read about Norman and was writing The Shoe Snob, of course I wanted to find out more about him and share his story. However, as his story was quite like one that you see in a movie, I had always wanted to get the real thing, straight from the source and not from another blog/magazine etc. I had contacted Norman way back when, simply to introduce myself and ask for more access to photos of his to share with all of you and from that point onward we kept in touch. Funny enough, Spain is a small world and it just so happened that Norman was also pursuing a RTW line in Almansa and we happened to run into each other. Just so that you can imagine, Almansa has only 25,000 people and there are only so many restaurants where the shoemakers/shoe people go to. That being, we found eachother at a restaurant catching up (this was a while ago). †We had a few of these encounters over the course of the last 1.5 years, and with that became closer.
Norman and I had actually been in contact recently and he said that if I could ever pass by Barcelona on my way back to London from Almansa that I should come by and check out the workshop and finally get that information that I have been meaning to get all this time. So I finally had that opportunity and decided to take advantage of it before I forever let it pass me by. That being, a few weeks back, as I was placing my order for A/W2014, instead of going straight home as I usually do I went from Almansa to Barcelona on the Thursday and spent a nice little weekend in a very hot and beautiful city. And in that weekend, a good amount of things became a whole lot clearer….first and foremost, I realized that Norman Vilalta is not a shoemaker. He is an artist of whom uses shoes as the medium through which he creates his art……
Stay tuned next week as I divulge more on the life of Norman Vilalta. (more dress shoes in next week’s post!)