Roger Vivier (1907-1998). French designer of footwear. “The secret,” he once said, “is to discover the age-old forms and then reinterpret them in the light of the present-day, with the improvements required by our more frantic gait, a less formal custom of using exquisite models, a time reserved only for those rare ceremonial occasions.” A fairly simple definition, but one which describes the heart of his creations. A sculptor of shoes, a tireless inventor, a fanciful experimenter, in his long career he has written an important chapter in the history of fashion and accessories. Virgola, Cancan, Pulcinella, Guignol are just a few of the names that he gave to his prestigious creations now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Musée des Arts et de la Mode in Paris. Born in Paris, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, discovering the world of shoemaking almost by accident, urged by a few friends to design an extravagant collection. This led to the beginning of a long career which led him to work with Pinet and Bally in France, Rayne and Turner in Great Britain, and Miller and Delman in the United States. And it was an orthopaedic shoe that he designed for Delman and which was rejected, but later made by Elsa Schiaparelli, that launched in the 1940s the fashion of stacks, or wedge-heeled shoes. He stayed in the United States during the Second World War, and he opened with Suzanne Remi, in Madison Avenue, a millinery shop that soon proved to a meeting place for all those who followed fashion. In 1947, upon his return to Paris, he met Christian Dior, who appointed him to supervise the styling of his shoes. From “custom shoes,” Vivier shifted, widely imitated, to a prêt-à-porter line. His partnerships with the Maison Dior lasted for ten years. In 1957, he started his own business.
2000. The brand is purchased by the Della Valle Group.
2001, March. Roger Vivier is licensed on an exclusive basis to Tod’s.
2002. The revival of the brand begins with a collaboration with the shoe designer Bruno Frisoni and a profound research into the archives of the footwear couturier in order to rediscover its entire past and repropose it in a modern context.