Laced and Ready: Norman Vilalta

Shoemaker Norman Vilalta is a true creative spirit, applying a myriad of different methodologies and philosophical principles to his work. Perhaps that’s why sartorial luminaries the world over consider a trip to his Barcelona atelier an uncompromising rite of passage.
Laced and Ready: Norman Vilalta
The Norman Vilalta of some years ago was a fundamentally different dresser to the man you see before you today. He was for many years a lawyer in Buenos Aires, so as you might imagine he was required to keep a rather prim and proper appearance. Aged 31, his life changed utterly, as he made the decision to move to Florence to study the noble art of bespoke shoemaking. It was a valuable experience, not only because it started him down the path that his beautiful handmade shoes tread today, but also because in Europe he could escape the rigmarole of corporate conformity. “I was able to be in touch with both old and new aesthetics, and I enjoyed the act of dressing well and expressing oneself through one’s clothing for the first time.” This sense of vivid self-expression has filtered through into Norman’s work ever since, which sees him create innovative, dynamic bespoke and ready-to-wear footwear, characterized by a harmonious blend of sweeping lines and sharp edges. Now based in an atelier in Barcelona, Norman is a true creative spirit who applies both the teachings of his Italian tutors and the Japanese principles of Shumari (or the search for perfection) to his work. “It allowed me to understand different kinds of beauty, new kinds of perfection – those discoveries changed my work, and also the way I choose my clothes.” Norman of course will never be so bold as to say that his shoes are perfect, but as far as we can tell, they’re pretty damn close.
“The work of a shoemaker is very physical”, says Norman, “I tend to dress down day-to-day; a shirt and trousers underneath my apron. This shirt is bespoke, as are the trousers. I love the irregularity and drape of good linen.”
“Shoes alone can create such a personal sense of style,” says Norman, “this pair are probably what I consider my most meaningful work. They are part of the ‘Wabi Sabi’ collection, I call them the ‘ecce homo’ shoe. They’re not about my hand as an artisan, nor about the quality of the material I use, they’re about the beauty of imperfection. This kind of aged, worn-in aesthetic has huge appeal for me.”
Norman made this belt from braided leather, with aged brass fixtures. Again its subtly subversive design seems to strike a cord, “I love that it’s only one piece of leather and the way that you have to knot it,” he explains.
Evidently, the power of simplicity speaks volumes to Norman. “My watch is a vintage design. I chose it because I loved its aesthetic simplicity and for its handmade crocodile straps.”