Roger Vivier: In the footsteps of greatness

Roger Vivier’s signature comma-shaped heel is being given a new lease of life, says Rebecca Gonsalves

As well as creating Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation footwear, Roger Vivier’s designs for Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent are legendary. One of the most acclaimed shoe designers ever, Vivier may have been credited with inventing the stiletto heel in 1954, but it is for his comma-shaped Virgule heel that he is perhaps best-known, for which he consulted aeronautical engineers before its introduction in 1963. This season, 50 years since its birth, the Virgule is getting more than just grammar pedants excited.

“We know who the Vivier woman is today, she is a younger mother,” says Bruno Frisoni, creative director since 2003 who was tasked with breathing new life into the brand after the founder’s death in 1998. “But now we want to know the daughter, so today is all about that daughter who has grown up. She is many women together – she is very Parisian, playful, sexy and always very chic.”

The star of the campaign is 21-year-old Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor, daughter of Amanda de Cadenet and John Taylor of Duran Duran. Shot in the French capital by Olivia Bee, the series of images capture the youthful joie de vivre to which Frisoni refers.

The brand plays an important part in 20th-century French fashion and recently opened a retrospective at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. “It is an honour and a great pleasure to follow in Vivier’s footsteps,” says Frisoni. “The archives are an inspiration for fashion today. The exhibition features 170 single shoes from the thirties until today, which will allow you to discover the kind of visionary Vivier was: his avant-garde creativity, his incredible modernity. He was an artist and a poet as well as a fashion designer – he has marked an era.”

This week, a Roger Vivier boutique will open as part of the shoe hall at Selfridges, enabling a whole new customer to become acquainted with the Parisian brand. Alongside the Virgule – including a limited-edition, unique-to-Selfridges tartan version – are other updated highlights from the Vivier archive – including the pilgrim-style shoe worn by Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour.

“I try to work having fun,” says Frisoni of the brand’s exciting direction. “We are always at our best when we work having fun.”

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