All of us who are part of the Asociación de Creadores de Moda de España, deeply regret the passing of our beloved Elio Berhanyer. An example to all of us, he was a tireless worker and a fighter. A true lover of a profession that, until the end of his days, continued to thrill him. His work is a huge legacy not only for all those who admire him, but also for the Spanish cultural heritage.
Current Spanish fashion would not be what it is without the figure of Elio Berhanyer. Enormously committed to the sector, he was one of the founders of this Association in 1998. We remember those beginnings with special affection, and how Elio’s great wisdom, and his enormous companionship and commitment, helped us to take off. He will always be a fundamental pillar of this organization and for this reason we named him Honorary Associate in 2012.
“I was born in 1962, just when his career as a designer was taking off. A truly exciting story. I met him when he was older, but he always seemed a very jovial person, with an impressive vitality for his age. I remember that in a tribute that was given to him a few years ago, Elio holding his head in his hands said: ‘I have this as if I were 18 years old,’ “recalls Modesto Lomba, President of ACME.
A self-taught creator, his humble origins did not stop him from rising as one of the greatest exponents of Spanish haute couture. Elio Berhanyer began his career as a bellboy in an advertising agency, where he was soon able to demonstrate his skill in drawing fashion figurines. His sensitivity and talent led him to start as a creator of theatrical costumes, a job he never left behind. It was precisely from the theatre where he made the leap to fashion, opening his own studio.
For Juan Duyos, Elio has always been a reference in all his work, a creator for whom he has felt a great affection and admiration. “It’s amazing to have met him, to have been able to talk and share so many moments with him. I loved his stories. What he told about when he was one of the greats. How he dressed Ava Gardner or Cyd Charisse … They were wonderful stories that made me dream. ”
And so it is that Elio can state very loudly that he is part of a privileged club: the one in which those creators who, with Balenciaga at the top, were among the greats of haute couture, and positioned the fashion of Spain at an international level. Elio was never scared by the challenges or the evolution of a sector of a changing nature. After the arrival of prêt-à-porter in the 70s, a new era to which he knew how to adapt with mastery, exquisitely transferring the values of Haute Couture to the serial production of his collections. Elio also revolutionized the concept of uniform with his corporate costume creations for Iberia hostesses, top award at the IATA International Competition in 1970.
His talent has been recognized with numerous awards such as the Cadillac Award as Best Designer of the Year in New York (1970), the Campioni Award in Italy (1991), the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts (2002) and the National Award of Fashion Design (2013). He is also ‘Doctor Honoris Causa’ by the University of Harvard and holder of a Chair with his name in the Textile Technology Center (CITTA). But if something excited him in his later years was that ACME and ADYMO worked together to submit his candidacy for the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts. “It’s a pity they did not give it to him. It was a well-deserved prize. I was very impressed that he always said that if he won the Prize, it would not be for him, but for all his colleagues, because fashion would be recognized as a central discipline in the culture of a country. We will be left with the distress of not having achieved it, “says Pepa Bueno, Executive Director of ACME.
Today we say goodbye to a person who has been for us more than a friend, and more than a colleague. “The Master has just gone. The last of the Masters. The golden age of Spanish fashion disappears with him. Of all of them Elio has been the most human, the most generous, the most cheerful … My beloved friend “. A few beautiful words by Agatha Ruiz de la Prada that define our feelings and that help us to say hasta siempre, to the great Elio Berhanyer.