ELIO BERHANYER: THE FASHION MUST BE THE EIGHTH ART
For: Josefina Figueras
His trajectory is identified by the history of the Spanish fashion. Elio Berhanyer has lived through the glorious stage of the High fashion and the incidences of the pret to porter. More than fifty years on the foot of the cannon in the middle of successes and of difficult moments but without never losing the pulse of a creation that has been able to adapt itself to all the situations. An exhibition in the Museum of the Suit remembers his creations and the perfection of a way of doing seam that survives to epochs and styles.
In his workshop of the Street Fortuny and under the spectacular models hung on the hangers, emphasizes a suit of organza white person, with circles of spangles and pearls, to way to do. It is the reproduction of the suit that the designer did for Queen Sophia for the first dinner of gala celebrated by the Kings in the Real Palace of Madrid. It is inspired in the fiancée's garment of the Empress Josefina when he married Napoleón. "This reproduction is the caprice of a client" there tells me Elio, that, as always, it demonstrates during the interview, his passionate love for the fashion and his affectionate and cordial character that the passage of time does not achieve to muddy
- Hábleme of his beginning. I believe that of child he wanted to be an architect.
Like that it is, but I it could not go so far as to be because my family had no means to give me these studies, but in my collections neither Dior nor Balenciaga were my inspiration, Corbussier and the architects were Him. That's why perhaps I started with a very hard, very architectural fashion. This happened tambíén to Courreges and to Ungaro. They went out of the Balenciaga workshops but they did not want to continue the trajectory of the teacher, like I that I did not also want because he wanted to have a proper image. If he was a painter it would admire Velazquez, but it would not try to do like Velazquez, because that would never obtain it.
- Which was his first work like designer?
I began with designs for the theater across the TEU – University Spanish theater - it was employed also like buttons at the magazine “Astra“ and I had the opportunity to do a few designs for this publication. Then they entrusted me the decoration of the shop windows of the House Elisabeth Arden who had his lounges in the Door of Alcala. I invented a series of very original hats that were much praised by the clients. After this they entrusted me three models "to entertain the ladies mints were brushing them" they said to me. In fact this was my first collection. They took them to his boutique of New York and did an offer to me to work in the United States but I declined the offer and proposed to a drawer who was beginning doing his pinitos with the couturiers Herrera and Ollero: he was Oscar de la Renta.
- When did he throw himself to open his first seam house?
I had the opportunity to be present at a collection of Pedro Rodriguez. His fashion impressed me, his embroidered suits … After a little time I opened my seam house in the Street Ayala being provided only with a seamstress and a beginner. The director of Elisabeth Arden provided a list of possible guests to me. 12 women and 30 men helped. I was always inviting to the parades more men that because the men never know of the one who is a garment and thus when they saw the my one they might say to women "this is a Berhanyer".
THE SUCCESS COMES
The success of Elio Berhayer does not make be waited. Them big American magazines as Vogue and Harper's began being interested by his creations. His fashion drew quickly between the most demanding circuits it gives the international fashion. His first collection abroad was in the House Cadillac of the United States that it awarded him the "Prize to the best designer of the year". In 1964 it presented his spring collection in the Pavilion of Spain of the World Fair of New York. In 1968 Elio, together with Pertegaz, there were the names "star" of the collections that the Department of Information and Tourism was presenting in Madrid and Barcelona. The Spanish High fashion had a place in the world …
- To what important women has it had occasion to dress?
To many. For twelve years to Queen Sophia – when I was a princess of Spain - and also later, until I left the High fashion Also I had occasion to dress many important artists. I remember that Ava Garner, whom there considered the most beautiful woman that I have seen in my life, entrusted me a black tailor with a white shirt. When it was proving it it was fixed in a book of history that was on the table in which characteristic ruff of the Austrias saw a photo with. He said to me then that he would like that his white blouse instead of being a haberdasher, had a similar ruff but I dissuaded it saying to him that "a face so beautiful as his could not take anything that was distracting the attention".
- When was it thrown to the world of the pret to porter?
In 1969 I initiated my shoes collections and, in parallel with the High fashion, I always presented my collection "Ready To Wear Elio Berhanyer Vanguardia" together with the throwing of the perfumes "Saraband" and "Elios" and of a collection of accessories like shoes, purses, cravats …
- What differences would it indicate between the High fashion and the pret to porter from the point of view of a designer?
When the pret to porter goes to the shops you never know who buys it, who takes it and if the people are wrong on having chosen it, on the other hand with the High fashion you have the client face, the tests, you advise it, modify the line, you are to his service; it is a completely different world. I long very much for the High fashion but always, even when I do pret to porter for the Footbridge Cibeles, do things that enter in the field of the High fashion and that a factory cannot copy, because it is very difficult that it is possible to reproduce in series.
- Why did the High fashion finish in Spain of such a drastic way?
For the luxurious tax so brutal that they put us. Just in the same epoch in which the Italian government removed the taxes, in Spain they marked to us a tax of 60 % on the sales. In the year 78 close our house of seam Pertegaz, Pedro Rodriguez and I.
THE EIGHTH ART
In the year 94 Cibeles it throws important news: the incorporation to the Footbridge of Elio Berhanyer. They had covered rumors of a deliberate blockade … your reappearance in the Footbridge was deifying. When, on having finished the collection, it went out to greet with his white dressmaker robe, the public applauded position in foot. His name has appeared since then in Cibeles where it has contributed the perfection of his line and of his impeccable seam. We have seen contemporanizados his famous contrasts two-color, some architectural reminiscence smoothed in the time … The pink tuxedo, the emerald green one, the yellow ones surprise sometimes how chromatism flashes in his collections, but for him, the black has a special fascination. His black and white contrasts have always been one of his strong points
"I am Andalusian - he says - and my Andalusia is black and white. Covered with Vejer, the whitewashed white peoples, the old women dressed in black. It is clear that the Andalusia that triumphs everywhere is the happy one, that of the colorines. But I am of Cordoba and Cordova is a part of Andalusia with a few special characteristics. The native of Cordoba is serious, introverted …"
- How does judge the itinerary of the Spanish fashion since it started till now?
The fashion has had a very direct relation with the movement of the country. I have lived through the most glorious years of the seam that were the 60 and the 70. The protagonist of that epoch was Balenciaga, now the big star of the Spanish fashion is Zara, but the pret to porter of Cibeles is not in the world and Zara is in all the countries …
- Is he considered to be a man with luck?
The luck has to do the his one working and I have worked very much. I love my profession over everything and keep on working with the same illusion of the first day. I do not do High fashion collections but I keep on dressing to a very good and very faithful clientele. My love by the seam was demonstrated when I mounted the exhibition of Pertegaz in the Museum Queen Sophia. No designer usually does a homage to other and I did it to Pertegaz because he was a partner of those years.
- Vd. has declared one day that it would fight so that the fashion was declared the eighth art: is it like that?
I have always believed that the fashion must be considered to be an art. The arts were six and the movies happened to occupy the seventh place. The fashion can be the eighth one. In the MOMA of New York there are big sculptures and big pictures, but the fashion is also. Not all the suits are an art all the painters cannot even be in the Prado Museum, but a suit is an art when 50 years ago he was beautiful and it it keeps on being now and it it can keep on being in 100 years. If the following generations keep on thinking that he is beautiful it enters already the art category.