Camilla Morton, whose name you might recognize as she's contributed to this site before, is a veteran fashion journalist with a best selling novel, How to Walk in High Heels, under her belt. But after years of writing countless show reviews, this fashion journo is now penning...fairy tales. "I am enchanted by how clothes make you feel, and the people behind it," Morton said. "Because sometimes the magic and the art of creation gets forgotten in the rush to find the next big thing." So Morton set about crafting fashion fairy tales, blending the lives of fashion icons with classic fairy tales. The icons supply the illustrations, of course (see an illustration by Manolo Blahnik, above left).
The first in her fashion fairytale memoir series blended Christian Lacroix's life story with the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Out this month is Manolo Blahnik and the Tale of the Elves on the Shoemaker. We talked to Camilla about what it was like to work with Manolo to write his fairy tale. Plus we've got a peak at some of Manolo's gorgeous illustrations.
Fashionista: How did this idea come about? I have loved Manolo for a very long time and his shoes have always struck me as having magical powers… I wanted to create a story that had the same enchanting spirit as he did. We spoke about several story options but this one even when we first spoke I could imagine how the stories and characters would play out.
Why do you think Manolo's story (and tales other fashion luminaries) translate so well into fairy tales? I don’t think fashion biographies can be boxed into a black and white description--there is so much make believe and magic that goes on that a fairytale seemed to fit the fantasy of their world so much more than a straight-laced biography. When I came up with the idea of fusing the two the stories and designers paired off in my mind almost instantly. The stories wrote themselves; it was as if they were always meant to be twisted together.
What parts of Manolo's life were the most surprising to you? What would be people be surprised to know about him? I like to think that I know Manolo quite well, but as we worked on this and flew drawings back and forth his wit and spirit always enchanted me. He is a magical person from another era--but I never knew he had red hair until I saw his pictures. Rather shamefully, I have only ever thought of him in the incarnation I see him as today.
What was it like to work with Manolo on this project? What was your process? I wrote the story and then sent him some notes and ideas for the sketches and then it was over to him. As he travels so much I would write and call and occasionally we would see each other then finally l was invited to his office where all the sketches were laid out around the room of his office it was amazing!
Who else in the fashion world would you like to give the fairy tale treatment to? I launched the fairytale series with Christian Lacroix and the Tale of Sleeping Beauty and I am currently working on Diane von Furstenberg’s Fashion Fairytale. There are lots of inspiring people in fashion that I would like to turn to fairytales. I like creating stories with happily ever afters--not credit crunch or advertising requirements! I like creating escapism and fantasy and so it is perfect for the world of fashion. You only need to look along the runway or at the designers and you already have more characters than Walt Disney ever had at his disposal.
What do you think about the state of fashion journalism today? (Cathy Horyn recently said the younger generation needs to focus on reporting.) When I started in fashion I was hungry to learn and see everything. I would blag into shows, go to exhibitions, libraries, studios, fashion was the oxygen that fed me. Using the internet makes it too easy. If I was starting today I would want to uncover every new and exciting rising star, I would blog about them, follow them. It's too easy to hit Google and think ‘job done.’ Fashion is a very intoxicating flower but you have to know how it grows and how to nurture it as well as prune its petals.
Click through for more of Manolo Blahnik's illustrations.