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Vivier has been called the “Fragonard of the shoe” and his shoes “the Fabergé of Footwear” by numbers of critics. He designed extravagant richly-decorated shoes that he described as sculptures. He is credited with the design of the first stiletto heel in 1954. Stiletto heels, the very thin high heel, were certainly around in the late 19th century as numerous fetish drawings attest, but Vivier is known for reviving and developing this opulent style by using a thin rod of steel.
Ava Gardner, Gloria Guinness and The Beatles were all Vivier customers, and he designed the shoes for Queen Elizabeth II for her coronation in 1953.
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Vivier designed shoes for Christian Dior from 1953 to 1963. In addition to the stiletto heel, he also experimented with other shapes including the comma. He used silk, pearls, beads, lace and jewels to create unique decorations for his shoes.
In the 1960s Vivier also designed silk-satin knee boots outlined in jewels, and thigh-high evening boots in a black elastic knit with beads. His most iconic design, the Pilgrim pumps with silver buckles (worn by Catherine Deneuvein the film Belle de Jour) received international publicity and many imitations.
In 1967, French siren Catherine Deneuve pairs her Yves Saint Laurent wardrobe with Rogier Vivier pilgrim shoes in the movie Belle de Jour by Luis Buñuel. The movie becomes a cult hit right away and the pilgrim shoe becomes a runaway bestseller, two hundred thousand pairs are sold in one year and is the best sold model for Roger Vivier ever!
Visitors flock to his boutique on the Rue Saint-Honoré, whose design (designer: Lena Pessoa) is famous for being inspired by Vivier’s apartment. Exclusivity is the hallmark of the line, with many shoes made to order, some with hand-embroidered gold thread. There are now three shops in the US, all designed by Lena Pessoa. The latest opened in Orange County, CA in May 2012. Vivier’s shoes are on display at the Costume Institute of theMetropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and the Musée du Costume et de la Mode at the Louvre.
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Biography and history of the brand
After ending the collaboration with the house of Dior, Roger Vivier opens a new boutique at 24 rue François Premier, across from maison Dior. He consults with aeronautical engineers on the design of his swooping “comma” heel, that became another one of the most copied styles in footwear history.
In 1968 Roger ads scarves and gloves to his collection and a year later Monsieur Vivier men’s department opens in the Vivier boutique, which offers made-to-measure shoes.
Diane Vreeland wearing Roger Vivier boots
Among Roger Vivier’s biggest fans were Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor , who enshrined his exquisite creations in a custom closet; and the cinema femme fatale Marlene Dietrich, who haunted his boutique almost daily and was rewarded with custom black satin pumps held up by glittering rhinestone balls. Vogue’s editor, Diana Vreeland, insisted her maid polish the soles of her Viviers with rhinoceros horn. Included in her vast collection were a dozen each of his pilgrims and rock-star vinyl boots. Vreeland was among the many who regarded Vivier’s work as true art; in her 1977 Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibit, “Vanity Fair,” she contrasted examples of his craftsmanship with that of 18th-century artisans.
Wallis Simpson closet with Roger Vivier shoes
In 1994 the 86-year-old Roger Vivier signs a new licensing agreement with Rautureau Apple Shoes, which in turn allows him to open a shop in Paris the following year. The Rautureau venture gives Vivier the backing to continue doing what he loves the most—designing shoes. Yet three years later, in October 1998, Vivier dies in Toulouse, France. He is remembered by many, including fellow shoe designer. “People try to copy him, but it’s impossible to find that mix of technical skill and design.”
Roger Vivier book by Rizzoli
A gorgeous tribute to the legendary shoe and accessories designs of Roger Vivier. Master designer Roger Vivier elevated both the form and decoration of ladies’ shoes during his sixty-year career. His innate Parisian style embodied a sense of perfection and craftsmanship, and his work was coveted by style icons from Elsa Schiaparelli to Jackie Onassis. Described by Yves St. Laurent as bringing to his work a “level of charm, delicacy, refinement and poetry unsurpassed,” he created the first stiletto heel for a ready-to-wear shoe line with the house of Dior in 1955.
His shoes are legendary, and the tradition of his innovative spirit continues with the revival of the house by current designer Bruno Frisoni, who has updated Vivier’s concepts, bringing his own touch to signature shapes and embellishments (including the buckle pump made famous by Catherine Deneuve in Belle du Jour). This lavish volume celebrates the history of the venerated house and charts the current evolution of the fantastic haute-couture designs that keep Roger Vivier at the top of every well-dressed woman’s list. With gorgeous new photography of the house’s collection of vintage shoes, beautifully rendered sketches, and details of the amazing accessories coming out of Roger Vivier today, this book is as chic as the shoes that fill its pages.