Standing High

- By Andrea Mestrovic - 

Roger Vivier was a timid shoe designer with great ambition and ingenious creativity. His designs have always been notoriously unpredictable, yet permanently captivating. Throughout his career, Vivier was resolute about creating art and never compromising on quality; he described his shoes as opulently adorned sculptures, worthy only of those who will deeply appreciate their splendor.  He is credited with the design of the very first true stiletto in 1954, using thin rods of steel to give women those much needed extra few inches.

His journey of discovery didn’t end there. Vivier was a winning neophyte in working with shapes, patterns, and original inserts: pyramid heels, ball-shaped stilettos, and rounded arch heel.  He festooned his creations with raw silks, nacreous pearls, exotic beads, French lace appliqué and precious jewels to create magic.  Ava Gardner was one of his many fans, and even Queen Elizabeth II wore a pair of Roger Vivier stilettos for her coronation in 1953.

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Catherine Deneuve and Audrey Hepburn (far left and center) in Roger VIvier's Pilgrim Pump. Top right: The Pilgrim Pumps from recent collections.

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Vivier’s most iconic design to date is the Pilgrim pump with an oversized silver buckle, first worn by Catherine Deneuve in the film Belle de Jour.  It sent the world of fashion in a complete frenzy, making Vivier – to his dislike – a publicly recognizable personality.  As his brand got stronger and his creations more widely desired, so did the price tags.  The most expensive shoe ever sold at an auction was an original Roger Vivier design from 1962 that was created for Princess Soraya, who was married to the late Shah of Iran. The price tag was a staggering 19,750 euros.

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The most expensive shoe ever sold at an auction; designed by Roger Vivier for Princess Soraya.

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Since Roger Vivier’s passing in 1998, the company’s CEO, Diego Della Valle, and Creative Director, Bruno Frisoni, turned to an incisive French model, style icon, and all-round glamazon, 51 year old, Inès de la Fressange to revive the brand, shape the company’s message, and clarify all the historical perceptions.  Although her precise title is undecided, her role is clear, and one she is quite familiar with: an in-house muse, a source of inspiration, and a fervent critic.  Fressange had a similar relationship with Karl Lagerfeld, as his muse and exclusive Chanel model in the vigorous era of the 80s.

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Legendary muse Ines de la Fressange

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“Brands like Vivier are pillars – they are monuments of fashion; they are names we don’t forget”, states Inès de la Fressange, a true doyenne of Parisian haute couture classicism.
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Andrea Mestrovic is a multi-lingual, multi-talented, but modest multi-tasker who has lived on both sides of the Atlantic. Andrea has a sure-footed instinct for discovering magnificent finds all over the globe. You can follow her on twitter @AndreaMestrovic or read all her posts on oliviapalermo.com/author/andrea
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Andrea Mestrovic is a multi-lingual, multi-talented, but modest multi-tasker who has lived on both sides of the Atlantic. Andrea has a sure-footed instinct for discovering magnificent finds all over the globe. You can follow her on twitter @AndreaMestrovic or read all her posts on http://oliviapalermo.com/author/andrea

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