It is always exciting for designers like us to be involved in collaborative projects with other brands. We recently had the pleasure to work alongside renown Menorcan shoe company Pretty Ballerinas in the creation of a hand silk-screened edition of ballerinas.
The project came about when I met with Ursula Mascaró — the vivacious creative director of the Mascaró Group — and commercial director David Bell, and showed them some samples of printed leather with our original designs.
Ursula was immediately excited about the idea of a collaboration between our brands; it was a sort of throwback to the time when her mother bought my mother’s couture clothes, of which she had very fond memories.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, BiniChic’s Susan Unger had her own workshop on the island, and it was there that her collections were hand dyed and silk-screened in prints and colors inspired by the Mediterranean.
Founded in 1918 by Ursula’s grandfather, Mascaró first started out as a small manufacturer of ballerina flats. The company is still family-run and owns multiple stores around the world. Their brands have many celebrity followers and avid fans who are keen to own their latest designs.
Ursula especially liked Glade, a design inspired by the Menorcan flora. The print gives the impression of looking up from under a tree and seeing its leaves against the sky.
Ursula called her design team to the meeting and the colors were chosen — some which we were to print on white leather and others on camel-colored suede.
In addition to black, the colors were these rich jewel-tones we immediately fell in love with.
The next step was to make the screens and start testing out the inks on the leathers. Each shoe had its own screen, and we engineered the drawing to be able to make each pair a mirror image of the Glade print.
The process by which we printed the shoes is completely manual. We have our workshop in the nearby town of Alaior, where talented craftsmen individually silkscreen the print unto each piece of leather already pre-cut roughly into the shape of a ballerina.
Silk screening is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to apply ink onto another material. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh through which the ink can be transferred onto a surface. A squeegee is moved across the screen stencil, forcing ink into the mesh openings for transfer during the squeegee stroke.
Silk screening renders a sharp and elegant image onto the leather, still leaving room for the unavoidable and characteristic imperfections of hand-made designs.
We were very excited to see the final product, which premiered for this Spring 2013 season. If you’d like to buy them, you can do so on the Pretty Ballerinas website. They currently have them in white leather with blue, pink and black ink.
My personal favorites are on the camel-colored suede, which will hopefully be available soon. Check back for updates!
It was truly a pleasure to work with the creative, friendly and efficient team at Mascaró. We are very happy with the results — and look forward to other successful collaborations in the future! Maybe even with Mascaró!