Roger Vivier

B. November 13, 1907

D. October 2, 1998

Birthplace: Paris, France

Awards: Neiman Marcus Award, 1961 Knighted, France, 1988 Daniel and Fischer Award Riberio d'Oro

Roger Vivier enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts at the age of nineteen to study sculpture. After working briefly in a shoe factory, Vivier, the "Fa-berge of Footwear," launched his footwear design career in 1937 designing for Pinet and Bally in France, Delman in the United States, and Rayne and Turner in the United Kingdom. He designed a cork-soled platform shoe for Elsa Schiaperelli in 1939, and in 1940 he signed an exclusive contract with Delman. Wartime shortages made footwear production difficult. During the war, Vivier teamed with Suzanne Remy to establish Suzanne and Roger, a millinery shop in New York, but returned to Delman to design exclusively for them from 1945 to 1947.

In 1948 Vivier returned to Paris to pursue freelance work until signing a contract with Christian Dior in 1953, establishing the Delman-Christian Dior label. Vivier designed the footwear counterpart to Dior's New Look, creating new heel and toe shapes which proclaimed femininity with the same voice of Dior's hourglass silhouette. The 8-cm (3 inches) stiletto high heel created by Vivier in 1954 for Dior was the first of its type. It sent a clear signal that women were out of the factory and back in the home. Vivier's contribution to fashion trends were so significant that in 1955 Dior consented to change his footwear label to read Christian Dior cree par Roger Vivier, the first time a couturier ever shared label credit with a footwear designer. Vivier's partnership with Dior lasted until Dior's death in 1963.

Vivier opened his own design studio in Paris in 1963 and created his own signature line. Combining historic fashion and modern engineering, Vivier pioneered new footwear silhouettes including the "comma," a heel with reversed comma point aimed at the arch (which he developed with aeronautical engineers), and the "choc or shock," with a concave heel structure. He was one of the first to experiment with vinyl, metallic leather, fake and real furs, and stretch fabrics. Vivier closed his house in the mid-1970s.

Over the course of his career, Vivier designed footwear for several of the top design houses, including Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro, Coco Chanel, Hermes, Nina Ricci, Jean Patou, Guy Laroche, Cristobal Balenci-aga, Andre Courreges, Balmain, and Madame Gres. The elegant curves and feminine silhouettes of Vivier's designs elevated footwear design to an art form. He brought fantasy to footwear, treating each design like a sculpture. Vivier's work has been exhibited in art galleries in New York and Paris. Vivier continued to design for Delman in New York until 1994 when he signed a new five-year licensing agreement with Rautureau Apple Shoes in France. Vivier died in 1998 at the age of ninety designing until the very end. See also: Christian Dior; Yves Saint Laurent; Cristobal Balenciaga; Jean Patou; Andre Courages, Nina Ricci; Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel; Emanuel Ungaro; Hermes; Madame Gres.

REFERENCES

Baber, Bonnie, et al. "The Design Masters." Footwear News 51 (April 17, 1995): 28-33.

Infantino, Vivian. "Roger Vivier, 1907-1998." Footwear News (October 26, 1998): 19.

Weisman, Katherine. "Roger Vivier, 90, Mourned by Shoe World." Footwear News (October 12, 1998): 2.

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