The elves and the shoemaker

Think of a shoemaker of the Forties and Fifties and - if fashion history is your thing - you may well arrive at Roger Vivier. The man who created the slender, high-heeled shoes to go with Christian Dior's 1947 New Look, Vivier was so celebrated that Marlene Dietrich wore his heels in Hitchcock's Stage Fright (1950). And Queen Elizabeth II wore shoes by this Frenchman to her coronation.

Yves Saint Laurent has a collection of Roger Vivier shoes. Indeed, Saint Laurent choose him to create the groovy buckled flats to go with his groundbreaking Mondrian shifts of 1965. Vivier has been the subject of extensive exhibitions and a richly illustrated coffee-table tome (Vivier, by Pierre Provoyeur, Editions du Regard, 1991).

Josephine Baker, Elizabeth Taylor and the American fashion doyenne Diana Vreeland have worn his shoes. Fashion academics still argue over whether it was Vivier, or the Italian, Salvatore Ferragamo, who invented the stiletto heel. But what is much more interesting is that Vivier, aged 89, has just come up with a new collection.

In the past few years, Vivier has spent much of his time in the south of France. But so far this year, he has been making plenty of trips to his native Paris where a shop with his name above the door (his first since his store in the French capital's rue Royalle closed its doors in the late Seventies) opened this spring.

Roger Vivier's shoes are now available in London in the new Freelance store in Neal Street, Covent Garden, which opens today.

This brings us to another story that began in the Forties. While Vivier was cladding the choicest of feet, another French company - the Rautureau Apple Shoe Company - was set up, with rather more mass-market intentions. It grew into the company now headed by two descendants, Yvon and Guy Rautureau, better known today as the men behind the funky label Freelance and Jean Paul Gaultier's shoe collection.

Today, the brothers Rautureau have funky footwear pretty much wrapped, what with the Freelance line (which for this summer includes Jelly shoes, but with high heels, for adults), the No Name line (sought after by those who like platform sneakers), Spring Cort, traditional sneakers (as worn by John Lennon on the cover of Abbey Road and, more recently, by pop chanteuse Vanessa Paradis) and Pom D'Api, which is a collection of children's shoes.

What the Rautureau brothers lack, however, is awesome elegance. For that, they, and their father before them, have always looked up to the undisputed grand master of French shoe design, Roger Vivier.

"Roger, he is God," is how the brothers put it. They grew up near Vivier's second home in the south of France. Their father, Jean Baptiste (after whom the brothers' men's shoes collection is named) was a contemporary. To keep the Roger Vivier label alive became their labour of love.

And so it was, after much discussion about which shapes were to be reintroduced, that the two brothers sponsored a collection of four shapes for shoes by Vivier. Each style is now offered in suede, patent and leather, and in colours including electric blue.

One of the Vivier designs features the sculpted, extremely high heel, called Troubadour, which he first introduced in 1958. Another is a high- heeled mule (best in jewel-red suede). There is also a Louis heeled court and a classic court shoe. In Paris, these four styles in many colours have their very own shop (13 rue de Grenelle): in London, Vivier will have his own corner within the first Freelance boutique.

While it is relatively easy to find vintage clothes - depending on what one is prepared to pay - it is rather more difficult to find and to wear vintage shoes, because they tend not to be able to stand up to being put on. Thus it was only by remaking Vivier's shoes that the Rautureau brothers could re-introduce this great fashion.

So with these shoes comes a story of a Parisian orphaned boy who wanted to be an actor, but by the age of 20 had discovered shoes; who had his own label twinned with that of Dior in the Fifties, then went back out on his own in the Sixties and made shoes for Pierre Balmain, Jean Patou, Guy Laroche, Nina Ricci, as well as Saint Laurent, and who has shod the feet of Barbra Streisand and Jane Fonda. Now a younger generation of starlets in the making can apply.

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Sport
Torquay United mascot Gilbert the Gull
football
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker