My shoemaking apprenticeship began in Florence under the tutelage of different Master shoemakers. I learned to prepare each tool, and myself, for the implementation of each one of the processes; to take foot measurements, to sculpt the wooden last, to transfer the design to the last, to cut the leather, to last the shoe, to prepare the handmade threads for the needlework…to fulfill each one of the hundreds of steps which all follow a rigorous rule of the trade. Within these steps I made room for my own personal expression and style to appear.
The search for perfection of technique is intrinsic in the hand making of each piece of work, though the essential is often invisible to the eye.
I found that searching for perfection of technique was not enough. Quickly, I learned what bespoke meant for me, I understood that there had to be another kind of perfection to go after. My search led to capturing the personality of my clients to create of a pair of shoes that express them. There are no limits, as a result I build personal collections of shoes for each one of my clients.
There is no Norman Vilalta bespoke shoe, there are client’s shoes created by Norman Vilalta.
I approach the ready-to-wear challenges with the same spirit of my bespoke practice. I need to express, I need to create, I need to throw the shoemaking stone farther.
Conceptually, I like to divide my ready-to-wear work into four “Landscapes”:
The No. 5 Collection gets its name from the address of my atelier in Barcelona. The collection is based on and represents my vision of classic models. I believe that most classic models are perfect in terms of their aesthetic harmony. From the beginning, I felt compelled to make these models in a personal way without ruining their inherent perfection. To express my personal touch I used asymmetry. This deliberate application of asymmetry is a kind of game to trick the eye, and asymmetry has become a signature of my work.
The Savile Row Meets Rock ’n’ Roll Collection is my way to deconstruct classic models. In this collection classic designs are harmoniously mixed with elements that don´t normally belong to them; Chelsea boots are mixed with a Derby design and exaggerated rubber soles are mounted in place of their leather counterpart under a “Bank District Oxford”.
The Wabi Sabi Collection represents my most personal search as a shoemaker. Sometimes, perfection means deliberately leaving aside what I learned from my Masters. The Wabi Sabi Collection is the homeland of the “Beauty of Imperfection” models.
The fourth landscape is the Speed Collection. Here, I approach my personal challenge of being an artisan from this century. I’m inspired by the way we presently live and in this collection I use the traditional heritage of my craft along with the tools of today.