THE LEGACY LIVES ON

Even be­fore the ad­vent of Jimmy Choos, Louboutins or Mano­los, there was Roger Vivier. Her­alded as the Fabergé of Footwear, it was the choice for roy­alty and stars. In the past decade, the dor­mant brand has been awak­ened and is even more de­sir­able. By Rebe

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Haute shoe­maker brand Roger Vivier re­tains its place in fash­ion

The last year was an event­ful one for Roger Vivier in Asia. The brand went through an ag­gres­sive ex­pan­sion, it launched its sec­ond store in Hong Kong, and new ones in Tokyo and Sin­ga­pore—a first for South­east Asia. Th­ese add to a grow­ing list of 26 Roger Vivier stores glob­ally— all in just over a decade since the Pres­i­dent and CEO of Tod’s, Diego Della Valle, bought the brand over in 2001 (three years af­ter the pass­ing of shoe leg­end Mon­sieur Vivier him­self ).

If any­thing, this is ev­i­dence of the im­mense pop­u­lar­ity the brand has in­ter­na­tion­ally. But with a pre­dis­po­si­tion to snub paid pub­lic­ity, how does Roger Vivier do it? “We are one of the few brands that take a lot of care with what we have in the shops. Un­like a lot of other brands, we don’t do a lot of pub­lic­ity, run­way shows and ad­ver­tis­ing. If peo­ple know about Roger Vivier, it’s be­cause of the women. I like that the base of our busi­ness is what we are sell­ing and the ex­pe­ri­ence is the store it­self,” says leg­endary French beauty and Roger Vivier am­bas­sador Inés de la Fres­sange.

From the be­gin­ning, it has al­ways been about beau­ti­ful shoe de­signs that women want to wear and Mon­sieur Vivier was a tour de force. The “stiletto king” was a pi­o­neer of nu­mer­ous other rev­o­lu­tion­ary shoe de­signs. The task of tak­ing this fa­mous name into a lux­ury brand that’s still rel­e­vant in the 21st cen­tury has fallen on the shoul­ders of cur­rent Parisian Cre­ative Di­rec­tor Bruno Frisoni. What’s im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous: Roger Vivier now of­fers more than just shoes. “To­day, we also de­sign day and evening bags. We have glasses, per­fume and jew­ellery. All th­ese present a dif­fer­ent feel to Roger Vivier as a brand,” says Frisoni.

A SPIN ON CLAS­SICS

Frisoni has adopted and re-in­vented sig­na­ture Vivier sym­bols like the chrome buckle. It was first seen on pumps worn by risqué cat­walk mod­els for Yves Saint Lau­rent’s 1965 Mon­drian col­lec­tion. More mem­o­rably, Cather­ine Deneuve’s bour­geois bad girl in Belle du Jour slipped on a pair for her slide into adul­tery. The rec­tan­gu­lar buckle be­came a favourite among mod­ern-minded women then.

To­day, the re­fined buckle lends it­self to many in­ter­pre­ta­tions. Frisoni has kept the clas­sic chromed ver­sion, but also dressed it up in se­quins, wrapped it with leather or en­crusted it with jewels. Apart from an em­bel­lish­ment on shoes, it has also trans­formed into the catch of a bag or been re­designed as jew­ellery. The lat­est spring/sum­mer 2014 U-Look col­lec­tion in­tro­duces a new buckle made of two U-shaped struc­tures, joined to­gether like mag­nets. Some are in duo-tone. The chic Miss Viv top-han­dle bag, orig­i­nally ded­i­cated to Madame Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, also sports the his­toric buckle. Qui­eter than a brand mono­gram, those who are in the know un­der­stand the un­der­stated style the Roger Vivier buckle rep­re­sents.

“I couldn’t be the am­bas­sador of prod­ucts I don’t like. Roger Vivier is ex­actly the kind of fash­ion I like. It’s very el­e­gant, but never bor­ing. There’s al­ways a twist or some­thing fun. Like flat shoe in satin but with a buckle em­bel­lished with strass beads—seems ca­sual but very so­phis­ti­cated,” says Fres­sange. This, Fres­sange claims, is the rea­son why women come back again and again to buy the same shoes in other colours.

Frisoni has also up­dated the Vir­gule or Comma heel in mod­ern steel. First cre­ated in 1963, it is a heel that rolls un­der the foot with a dy­namic curve. For spring/sum­mer 2014, sen­sual yet el­e­gant open-toe san­dals fea­ture the Vir­gule heels. To up the cool fac­tor, the san­dals come in fun ma­te­ri­als like re­flec­tive sil­ver leather and bright sum­mery shades like green and blue.

“It’s not for me to say if I bring any­thing rev­o­lu­tion­ary to the brand. It’s not that you can un­der­stand if some­thing is time­less or rel­e­vant for fash­ion [dur­ing the process]. You will only know if some­thing is a great style af­ter 10, 20 or 30 years. What I bring to the brand is prob­a­bly a cool­ness,” he says. If there’s one thing new Frisoni has brought to Roger Vivier, it’s got to be the fu­tur­is­tic Pris­mick line, which was launched in sum­mer 2012. An­gu­lar pieces of leathers, fab­rics and colours cre­ated an arty 3D ef­fect on bags and shoes. “It’s a re­flec­tion of what peo­ple look for to­day, which is ar­chi­tec­tural and geo­met­ric pieces,” says Frisoni.

HOT, NOT HAUTE

Be­fore launch­ing his first ready-to-wear shoes line in the ’60s, Mon­sieur Vivier was, first, a cus­tom shoes de­signer. Dur­ing the ’30s, he dressed Parisian singer Min­stinguett’s feet in se­quins and dec­o­rated Josephine Baker’s with lit­tle pen­dants. Two decades later, he con­vinced Mar­lene Di­et­rich to walk on di­a­mond-en­crusted balls and, in 1953, sent the young Queen El­iz­a­beth to the English throne in a pair of “golden kid san­dals em­broi­dered with as­sorted gar­nets to match her crown” and de­signed it with a “dou­ble sole to af­ford the fu­ture monarch a height wor­thy of her ti­tle.” He also de­signed for Chris­tian Dior.

In another clever move, Frisoni has re­placed the brand’s haute cou­ture her­itage but re­vis­ited it with high­end but low pro­duc­tion mod­els. The lim­ited-edi­tion Ren­dezvous line caters to con­tem­po­rary women look­ing for unique shoes for spe­cial oc­ca­sions. The shoes in this line are em­bel­lished with fancy feath­ers, crys­tal flow­ers and more. “I was keen not to con­tinue with cou­ture be­cause al­though Roger Vivier is a cou­turier, there are no real cou­ture ate­liers to­day that will give us the ex­cuse to do cou­ture. So I chose to go for a more mod­ern way to ac­cess lux­ury,” ex­plains Frisoni.

From square-toed shoes to the stiletto, the artis­tic cap­i­tal of Mon­sieur Vivier is vast and there’s much for Frisoni to play around with in years to come. What is cer­tain now is that over a decade since its re-launch, Roger Vivier has seen a suc­cess­ful re­vival. So much so that peo­ple are now keen to know more about the his­tory be­hind the beau­ti­ful shoes they wear. Last year this cul­mi­nated in the launch of a cof­fee ta­ble book Roger Vivier and a ret­ro­spec­tive ex­hi­bi­tion “Vir­gule, etc: In the Foot­steps of Roger Vivier” that was one of the high­lights at Paris Fash­ion Week in Oc­to­ber.

With two big events to add to Roger Vivier’s mile­stones, what’s next? Rid­ing on mo­men­tum, the an­swer is ob­vi­ous. “Ex­pan­sion. More stores world­wide! And hope­fully, a new place for us in Paris. When we launched the brand with Diego Della Valle, we imag­ined launch­ing a mai­son. Not a col­lec­tion.” says Frisoni.

Leather and satin heels; leather pumps, Roger Vivier

From top: Bruno Frisoni and Inés de la Fres­sange. Leather tote; snake­skin bag; leather shoul­der bag, Roger Vivier

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