Spanish fashion designer
Born: Elda, Alicante, Spain, 17 August 1957. Education: Studied psychology, University of Valencia, Spain, 1974; shoe styling at Ars Sutoria Institute, Milan, 1978; fashion design, under Gianfranco Ferré, Domus Academy, Milan, 1987; business management at Escuela de Organizacion Industrial, Madrid; classical art at Dante Alighiere School, Florence. Career: Director of fashion, Kurhapies Group; head stylist, Sara Navarro Company, Alicante; launched first shop in Madrid, 1979; specializes in footwear, handbags, belts, and ready-to-wear in leather; collaborated with Fernandez, Vittorio y Luccino, and Robert Verino for footwear; first international collection, 1988; official designer for V-Centenario, 1991, and Expo 92, 1991-92; launched shoe collection with Martine Sitbon, Paris, 1992; director of fashion team Creaciones Exclusivas S.A. and Komfort Spain SL (now Komfort Spain SL); introduced Pretty Shoes and Via Sara Navarro lines. Exhibitions: GDS Show, Dusseldorf, 1985; Premiere Classe Show, Paris, 1987; Expo Universal, Seville, 1992; Luz Blanca Collection, Galeria Nieves Fernandez, Madrid, 1992. Collection: Museu del Calzado de Elda, Alicante, Spain. Awards: Fashion Oscar for footwear, 1978; Alipac de Oro award, 1979; Catalog-81 prize, 1981; Master International award, 1985; Premio Valencia Innovacion award, 1989. Address: c/o Komfort Spain, SL, P.O. Box 83; CP: 03600 Elda (Alicante), Spain.
Coad-Dent, Elizabeth, Spanish Design and Architecture, London, 1990.
McDowell, Colin, Shoes: Fashion and Fantasy, New York, 1989, 1994.
The Fashion Guide, Paris, 1990.
Barker, Barbara, "Two Spanish Designers Open Stores in Madrid Center," in Footwear News, 5 June 1989.
——, "Bad Timing Puts Spain Fairs in Fix," in Footwear News, 16 October 1989.
——, "Spain's FICC Shows Off With Complicated Shoes," in Footwear News, 2 April 1990.
Ilari, Alessandra, "Vergelio Operates Ten Shoe Stores in Milan," inFootwear News, 11 June 1990.
Barker, Barbara, "Elda Vendors Make Winter Statement," in Foot-wear News, 24 September 1990.
"109 Anni Vissuti Intensamente," in Vogue Pelle (Milan), May-June 1991.
"Pasos Decivos," in Vogue (Madrid), June 1991.
Barker, Barbara, "Madrid International Fair Trots Out Cowboy Boots, Rugged Looks," in Footwear News, 6 April 1992.
Weisman, Katherine, "Premiere Classe Brings Accessories Back toEarth," in Footwear News, 26 October 1992.
"Identitá di Gusto," Vogue Pelle, (Milan), July/August 1993
Barker, Barbara, "Sara Navarro: Profile of a Professional," in Foot-wear News, 9 August 1993.
Weisman, Katherine, "Premiere Classe Enjoys Traffic Bonus," in Footwear News, 18 October 1993.
——, "Shoes Play Leading Role at Premiere Classe Show," in Footwear News, 14 March 1994.
"World Footwear Production," in Economic Review, November 1995.
Barker, Barbara, "Spain Makers Pin Hopes on Far East," in Footwear News, 23 September 1996.
"Spanish Fly," in Footwear News, 1 November 1999.
"Fashion Fair," in Footwear News, 29 May 2000.
Mullins, David Philip, "Showing Off: The Latest New York Shoe Expo…," in Footwear News, 29 May 2000.*
I view creating with an outlook onto the future, spending a great deal of time researching cultural trends to gather information for the purpose of finding an underlying concept or thread tying together each collection. [I try to] reflect society's current cultural scene, so my designs may serve as a response to the questions, desires, or needs of those purchasing these items, but will also be a response, reaching them by getting over a message that is never void of content. I like to play with the imagination, to create a story told through my designs, to have them include playful aspects with a certain touch of irony (hence my collaboration in Almodovar's film, Mutant Effect ). I place a great deal of importance on quality and comfort.
Born in Elda, Alicante, Spain, in 1957, Sara Navarro is a third-generation shoemaker in her family. Dedication to hard work and craftsmanship were central to the family philosophy. Navarro's father, Juan Navarro Busquier, believed that in business, although the ultimate might be impossible, a "fervent desire for perfection" can lead to the greatest success. Juan's company, Kurhapies, was founded on the meager savings of his father, a modest artisan shoemaker. Forty-five years later, the company, now known as Komfort Spain SL, is an empirical leader in volume Spanish footwear.
Sara joined the design department of her father's company in 1979. She was only 21 years old but had already majored in industrial psychology at the University of Valencia, Spain, and had studied classical ballet, fine arts, and several languages at prestigious schools all over the world. She studied design and shoe styling at the Ars Sutoria Institute in Milan and fashion design under Gianfranco Ferré at the Domus Academy. Navarro also obtained a B.A. in business management from L'Escuela de Organizacion Industrial in Madrid. Clearly, her decision to join the family business was not motivated by any lack of career choices. Her broad range of interests, from literature to piloting aircraft, typifies her dedication to study and work, in her own words: "There are few geniuses, only professionals. I've risked much with some pretty surprising collections."
Navarro has been conscious of her Mediterranean heritage throughout her career, incorporating the Spanish tradition of fine leatherwork and handcrafted finishes into her design work. Study of her work reveals an equally important commercial versatility. The Sara Navarro collections are nonrisk styling for the domestic market; Pretty Shoes are an everyday leisure line for "the woman who does not want to grow up." To find Navarro at her most creative and surprising, it is best to look at the Via Sara Navarro lines. Launched in 1988, the Via styles were designed and targeted at the export fashion market. Carried by Komfort Spain SL, this wider market brief has given Navarro the opportunity to explore and develop her own ideas about materials and techniques. The result is the emergence of a very personal design signature as the Via lines have become stronger over the years, encompassing evening, cocktail, and wedding footwear.
The trend of fashion in the 1990s to embrace recycled looks, distressed textures, and hand-rendered natural finishes is perfectly in harmony with Navarro's interest in her native Mediterranean heritage. She has explored derivatives of traditional constructions such as clogs, espadrille shoes, and boots. The silhouettes are strong, often irregular, echoing the clean classic lines of early Via collections; but the use of materials and chaotic color combinations is often surprising. In the mid-1990s, Navarro experimented more with the antique look, crafting granny boots, 1940s-styled walking shoes, and riding boots out of crinkled and oiled, redyed leather and damask fabrics mixed with aged leather. Her styles have attracted the interest of other designers, for example, John Galliano and Martine Sitbon, who find Navarro's styling in harmony with their own ideas.
It is a fortunate designer who can explore her interests and generate international acclaim for her work, and it is tempting to assume the fashion climate is simply in tune with this designer. Yet this would ignore the simpler truth that Navarro is a professional who can react to the fashion demands of both her domestic and export market. Jumping on the Swarovski crystals bandwagon, along with Ecoral, Stuart Weitzman, Sonia Rykiel, and Celine, Navarro nevertheless incorporates traditional Spanish craft skills such as hand-stitching into her work, making the Sara Navarro style instantly recognizable.
Navarro's work is so recognizable, in fact, that her designs were picked up by the Gusac Corp., based in Miami, Florida, for distribution in the U.S., alongside works by Uad Medani and Looky. In 2000 Navarro continued to be one of the top designers in the Spanish shoe industry, along with Panama Jack and Vincente Pastor's Bright Election, helping Spain hold its position among the top five shoe-producing countries in the world, especially in the textile shoe segment—espadrilles, leather shoes, and Western boots.
updated by Daryl F. Mallett