If Cinderella had a choice of shoes for the ball, she’d probably pick a pair from Roger Vivier. After all, the late shoemaker was a boundary-pushing visionary whose stilettos shod the feet of Marlene Dietrich, Catherine Deneuve and Queen Elizabeth II, to name a few. The metamorphic power of heels was never lost on Vivier when he established his namesake brand 53 years ago. Till today, they are instantly recognisable: Timeless elegance and a polished-yet-playful aesthetic come together to create shoes that are architectural wonders.
When Bruno Frisoni was made Creative Director in 2004, he modernised the legacy of this storied French brand by diversifying the brand’s offerings to include sneakers, bags, jewellery and small accessories. “I always start from a silhouette which projects the allure I’m looking for,” says Frisoni in an official statement. “From there I arrive at a shape: For a heel, a handbag or eyewear, then work on the forceful contours which will define my collection. I try to make everything lighter by giving it a sense of movement.”
With his signature flair for marrying femininity with masculinity, Frisoni constantly delivers polished collections that speak volumes about his time at the Parisian label. This fall/winter season, Frisoni imagines the Roger Vivier woman as someone who comes “armed with softness.” According to Frisoni, one of the ideas that sparked his brainwave for this collection came from a compelling photo from the ’60s: That of a woman who dared to stand out from a band of soldiers by dressing up in such a way that it brought a nouveau sense of romance to the regimentation of the army.
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Using this tale as his starting point, Frisoni crafted a collection that marries two opposite worlds to great effect, highlighting the duality between masculine silhouettes and ultra feminine touches—think stilettos with romantic frills or chunky boots with multi-coloured laces; a saddlebag with a thick strap yet made of the softest of leather or a boxy clutch wrapped in bold monochrome houndstooth.
While Frisoni has been advancing the feel and look of the house with his own point-of-view, Roger Vivier’s gilded history will always provide valuable references for him.“I always like to go back and look at some archives and images,” he adds, “It’s like taking a journey.”
Frisoni has taken several of Vivier’s heritage emblems—namely, the pilgrim buckle, the rose and the Boule—and turned them into bestsellers. For fall, the brand’s classic square buckle is fashioned into a ring on Chelsea boots with a sturdy platform heel, as well as wrapped in leather or crystal flowers to adorn fancy clutches and look-at-me pumps.
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First appearing on the Belle Vivier pump in 1965, which achieved iconic status after Catherine Deneuve wore them in Luis Buñuel’s award-winning film, Belle de Jour, the enduring success of the buckle is proof of the brand’s longstanding relationship with the world of cinema and celebrities. Nowhere is that more evident than in the case of Ines de La Fressange, Roger Vivier’s brand ambassador, who works closely with Frisoni to inject that French je ne sais quoi, even inspiring a capsule collection of Miss Viv handbags in 2015.
The brand’s signature rose from the ’60s has also been updated into silk, neoprene and leather ribbon versions to sit atop Sneaky Viv’ sneakers, Sin heels and ornate clutches.The Boule, a crystal-encrusted sphere and another Vivier trademark, reappears on the thin heel of the d’Orsay stiletto. With such beauties on your feet, no Cinderella will ever bear toleave them behind.
By Alicia Tan