Confessions of a Flamenco enthusiast!

This weblog is where I share my love and enthusiasm for Flamenco with the world. Events, my upcoming gigs, as well as featured items like Flamenco shoes, fans and mantons available at Edie Hats, will all be here. As well as my thoughts, musings, and inspirations! If you are interested in what I have to say on other subjects, check out my MySpace page and my Flickr photos.

Friday, March 30, 2007

A day trip to Senovilla Shoes.

A year ago in Feb 2006...while walking down a
cobblestone street in Jerez with Maria Jose Franco on
our way to a private lesson one day...a man who had
been following us..(and I was a little concerned about
this frankly), stopped Maria, and pulled out a pair of
BEAUTIFUL burgandy/mahogany colored flamenco shoes.

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Miguel at the train station. He is the man behind Senovilla!

They were extraordinary in appearance. (I am a high
end shoe junky... and can smell a well made shoe at
eighty paces!) The heel was exposed polished wood.
(turns out it is hand carved rose-wood as makes for great
sounding tacones). When I touched the leather... it felt
like butter. Very different than other flamenco shoes I'd seen,
and obviously hand made. Maria tried on a buff colored
pair right there in the street and bought them.

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The guys at work. A glimpse into the inner workings of the shop.

They obviously knew each other. Maria Jose's
obvious approval endorsed their quality for me. I
asked him if he sold wholesale, and told him I was a
retailer in Vancouver, it took me about week to
convince him I was worth taking a chance on ... and
our business relationship began.

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The Leathers. A beautiful selection of hand-dyed leathers.

This year I am in Seville, and have been selling these
beautiful shoes at Edie Hats in Canada , since my return
last year. Miguel Senovilla invited me to come visit the
workshop north of Madrid, where the shoes are hand made
by 4 artisans. I decided to take him up on it, and make the
trip from Seville.

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The Uppers. Depending on the style of Flamenco shoe, the uppers have different cuts.

I learned about the way the shoes are made. He took me through the whole process ,
and I met the men who make them.

It turns out (and just just like the hat manufacturing
industry) certain processes in the steps to making the shoes,
become one mans' specialty.

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Placing the upper. Whatever your shoe size, there is a "last" that the upper gets placed on.

He may be an expert at cutting the leather for example, as
minuscule variances make a difference in the way the shoe
fits. I learned that the most to be turned out in a day is ten pairs.
(VERY different numbers than the big factories like Gallardo).

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Shoe on the Last. The shoe is really coming together.

They also only produce three days a week as "Life is too short,
and it is impossible to to make art seven days a week" says Miguel,
picking out a typical dish from Segovia, in one of the oldest restaurants
in Spain that he took me to near his home there. His wife, daughter
and he spend their weekends together north in Segovia. This part of
he country is called Castilla and is where he grew up. Very different
than Andalusia. Not much Flamenco here at all.

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Shoes waiting for nails. Nails placed in one at a time, on the heel and toe.

Speaking of Gallardo, Miguel started this business with the son of the
famous Gallardo when Gallardo was bought by a big Japanese company,
and went into mostly mass production. He invested in the equipment
that is used for hand made work, and the two worked together as partners
until two years ago, when Miguel took over, and changed the name to Senovilla.
He has been gaining a respected reputation in Spain since, and his shoes
have become a favorite with some of the most well known Flamenco dancers.

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Nailing the heel. An up close peek at how it's done.

He showed me the lasts that he uses for Yerba Buena and la Farruca for example,
(and yes, they both have small feet, and NO, a last (wooden foot form) is NOT
carved especially for them, and NO, they don't get them for free)

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Miguel and his Shoes. Something to be proud of...these are the most exquisite Flamenco shoes that are still hand crafted from start to finish.

Miguel Senovilla is proud of the quality of his shoes and enjoys the work because
he is also a great fan of Flamenco. His favorite sales stop is the Jerez Festival every
year, where he sees everybody, and takes in the shows. I gained a lot of respect for
him and his work, by spending the day watching, listening, and learning and I am
proud to sell his product on this side of the water.

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The guys and I. The next time you slip on your Senovilla Flamenco Shoes, rest assured they have been lovingly hand crafted just for you!


Nomadandrea said...

(This may come across as an endorsement, read it as you will.)
I love my Senovillas. I get good sound from the rosewood heel and they are quite comfortable. Edie even has some pictures of my blue shoes on her flickr site!

Nomadandrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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sarita said...

Can I buy these in Jerez do you know?

sarita said...

Can I buy these in Jerez do you know?