Camilla Morton on Working with Manolo Blahnik : “I am living a fairytale!”
We chatted with the bestselling author and fashion journalist about working with Manolo Blahnik and her next magical project with Diane Von Furstenberg!.
– Diana Denza
After covering runway shows for Vogue UK and penning the bestselling girls’ guide, How to Walk in High Heels, it’s safe to say Camilla Morton has serious sole! And she continues to enchant the fashion world with her highly imaginative books detailing the lives and achievements of renowned designers.
We chatted with Camilla about her second fashion fairytale memoir, Manolo Blahnik and the Tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker ($14.50, amazon.com), working with design legends, and her charming new projects. Believe us: you don’t have to be a plastic heel-loving tot to indulge in this tale before bed!
BettyConfidential: You’ve written a fairytale memoir about Christian Lacroix and now one about Manolo Blahnik. Where did this idea come from?
Camilla Morton: I have been going to shows for a very, very long time, and it always struck me that there was something magical going on backstage. This combined with my love of fairytales to create the stories you see today. I wanted to re-tell fairytales and mix in what I consider modern day fairy stories – I thought it was a beautiful combination.
BC: In which ways was the writing process different from your previous books and in which ways was it similar?
CM: It was a very different process! With the How-Tos, there were months and months of research before I even could consider writing, but with the fairytales, the magic all just happened in my head! I sat down, scrunched my eyes tightly shut, and imagined I was being told a fairy story. I then wove in a fashion designer friend along with the well-loved tale, and the moment I wrote ‘Once Upon a Time’, everything fell into place.
BC: What was the most difficult part about writing these books?
CM: Honestly, I have loved writing these books. I just hope that people will enjoy reading them because I have so many more fairytales I want to create!
BC: You’ve worked for numerous fashion publications and your books have been on bestseller lists, but what did you discover about yourself after writing these two fashion fairytale memoirs?
CM: I think this series is the closest I have come to heaven, to doing exactly what I love doing most. I love mixing the fantasy of fairytale with fashion, which to me is what fashion is: a world of stunning make believe. There is so much ugly news at the moment, so it was a treat to write about something that can help readers escape to somewhere so inspiring, even if only for 112 pages.
BC: Manolo Blahnik created the book’s illustrations himself. What was it like to work with him?
CM: He is just like the illustrations: a charming mix of exclamation marks, color, and wild inspiration! He is such a kind, loyal, and lovely gentleman. I feel really blessed that he agreed to do this with me and I have treasured being able to compile a story that showed the world how I saw him. He –and Mr. Lacroix –were both so very generous with their time that I hope these stories are both a tribute to how I feel about them as well as their greatness.
BC: What was the most surprising fact you learned about Blahnik while working with him on the story?
CM: Nothing ever surprises me with Manolo! It should – but he always defies expectation and is one of life’s truest and most devoted friends. I think his drawings are delicious – I did love discovering he once had red hair!
BC: What is one thing you want readers to take away from Blahnik’s story?
CM: His zest for life, his charm, his imagination, and his extraordinary life. This book makes you fall in love with the man as well as the shoes!
BC: Who’s next on your list of designer biographies and how many more of the fashion fairytale books should readers expect?
CM: I am currently working on a fashion fairytale with Diane von Furstenberg and her tale will be as exciting and as empowering as she. I have so many tales I want to tell; I’ve dreamt up countless combinations!
BC: What words of advice do you have to today’s budding fashion designers and writers?
CM: Go for it! Dare to dream–there is always room for new ideas, new creatives, and new energy. Don’t be intimidated, don’t let hard work and long hours put you off, and don’t take any short cuts. It can be precarious, but it is worth it. To have a job that you love, to work with like-minded souls, enriches your soul. I have met the best and truest friends –who inspire me and motivate me every day –in fashion. Ignore the stereotypes and stay true to yourself –you can make it!
BC: If you could have lunch with any designer who would it be and why?
CM: I love having lunch with people who inspire me, but the trouble with today’s designers is that their schedules are so full and busy! I would love to have tea with Manolo and then dine in style, but often a phone call has to suffice. I love designers who inspire me and have worked with me personally. These are my loyal friends and the ones I want to dine with most. To me, fame and reputation is less impressive than friendship! There are many people I admire and would like to meet – but I would always choose my friends to spend quality time with.
BC: If you were writing a fairytale about your life, what would you title it?
CM: I often feel I am living a fairytale! As it happens, I already have written a fairytale about my life –so the title is a bit of a secret. My story will be the final book in the series, but I’m hoping it’s a while off yet!
Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.