- Born: Paris, 13 November 1913.
- Education: Studied sculpture at l’École des Beaux Arts, Paris.
- Family: Adopted son, Gérard Benoit-Vivier.
- Military Service: Performed military service, 1938-39.
- Career: Designed shoe collection for friend’s shoe factory; opened own , 1937, designing for Pinet and in France, Miller and Delman in U.S., Rayne and Turner in UK; designed exclusively for Delman, New York, 1940-41 and 1945-47; studied millinery, 1942; opened New York store, Suzanne & Roger, with milliner Suzanne Remy, 1945; returned to Paris, 1947, designing freelance; designed for Dior’s new shoe department, 1953-63; showed signature collections, from 1963; reopened own business in Paris, 1963; designs collections for houses, including Grés, St. Laurent, Ungaro, and Balmain; resigned with Delman, 1992-94; new licensing with Rautureau, 1994; opened new Paris boutique, 1995.
- Exhibitions: Musée des Arts de la Mode, Paris, 1987 [retrospective]; Nina Footwear Showroom, New York, [retrospective], 1998; Folies de dentelles, Musée des Beaux-arts et de la dentelle, Alençon, France, 2000.
- Awards: Neiman Marcus award, 1961; Daniel & Fischer award; Riberio d'; honored by Nina Footwear, 1998.
- Died: 2 October 1998, in Toulouse, France.
Roger Vivier was perhaps the most innovative shoe designer of the 20th century and beyond. Vivier’s shoes have had the remarkable ability to seem avant-garde yet destined at the same time to become classics. He maintained an eye for the cutting edge of fashion for six decades. Vivier looked back into the history of fashion and forward to the disciplines of engineering and science for inspiration. The shoes may seem shocking at first; however, it is the way they complete the that has made Vivier so coveted by top fashion designers for decades. With a sophisticated eye for line, form, and the use of innovative materials, Vivier created worn by some of the most and prestigious people of both the 20th and 21st centuries, among them Diana Vreeland, the Queen of England, and Marlene Dietrich.
Vivier worked with some of the most innovative fashion designers, such as , Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent, at the height of their careers. Schiaparelli was the first designer to include Vivier’s shoes in her collections. Vivier was working for the American firm Delman at the time; Delman rejected Vivier’s sketch of the shocking platform shoe which Schiaparelli included in her 1938 collection. In 1947 Vivier began to work for and the New Look brought new emphasis to the and foot. Vivier created a number of new shapes for Dior, including the and the heel. During their ten-year association, Dior and Vivier created a golden era of design. In the 1960s Vivier created the low heeled “pilgrim pump” with a square silver , and this shoe is often cited as fashion’s most copied footwear.
Vivier was one of the first designers to use clear plastic in the design of shoes. His first plastic designs were created in the late 1940s after World War II; however, in the early 1960s he created entire collections in plastic. Vivier popularized the acceptance of the thigh-high boot in the mid-1960s, a fashion considered for women. Vivier teamed with Delman again in 1992, and the mood his later collections continued to be imaginative and forward thinking. Drawing his inspiration from nature, contemporary fashion, the history of fashion, painting, and literature, Vivier updated some of his earlier designs and was constantly creating new ones to challenge the ideas of footwear design.
Vivier studied sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and later apprenticed at a shoe factory. It was this solid base of training in both aesthetics and technical skills that led him to become known for precision fit as well as innovative design. A Vogue ad for his shoes in 1953 educates the viewer to look beyond the design. Showing the shoes embraced in callipers and other precision tools the ad read, “Now study the heel. It announces an entirely new principle—the heel moved forward, where it carries the body’s weight better.” In another ad from Vogue (1954) the experience of owning a pair of Vivier shoes was likened to owning a suit or dress, “a perfection of fit and .”
Vivier’s shoes not only had the ability to complete a silhouette with an that made a whole, but the beauty of their line, form, and made them creations that stood alone as objects of art. Vivier’s strong combination of design and craftsmanship allowed his shoes to stand prominently in the permanent collections of some of the world’s most prestigious museums—the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and the Musée du Costume et de la Mode of the Louvre, Paris.
In 1994 the 86-year-old Vivier signed a new licensing agreement with Rautureau Apple Shoes, which in turn allowed him to open a in Paris the following year. The Rautureau venture gave Vivier the backing to continue doing what he loved most—designing shoes. Yet three years later, in October 1998, Vivier died in Toulouse, France. He was remembered by many, including fellow shoe designer , who told People magazine, “People try to copy him, but it’s impossible to find that mix of technical skill and design.” Kenneth Jay Lane, who had worked with the master , declared, “He was the world’s greatest artist of shoe design.”
An invaluable collection of great design! Offering a range of styles, the interiors represent the best from the late 1960s into the first years of the 70s. Included are Britwell Salome’s estate designed by David Hicks, Federico Forquet’s apartment in Rome, Roger Vivier’s apartment in Paris, Maurice Rheims’ apartment in Paris, Lagerfeld’s Paris apartment including the bathroom, Valentino’s apartment in Rome, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Count Panza’s apartment in Milan, the Paris home of Quasar and Emmanuelle Khanh, and the apartment of Gunther Sachs in the Palace Hotel in Saint-Moritz. This collection profiles the work of Serge Royaux, David Mlinaric, Jacques Thual, Aldo Jacober, David Hicks, Jean Dive, Piero Pinto, Michel Cruchot, Gerard Gallet, Alberto Pinto, Yves Vidal and Charles Sevigny, Anita Bachman, Michel Boix-Vives, Alain Demachy, Jacques Demachy, Jay Spectre, Marc du Plantier, Yves Houdin, Francois Catroux, John Stefanidis, Henri Samuel, Didier Aaron, Jean-Paul Faye, Gae Aulenti, Gerard Gallet, Jacques Simon, Pierre Sels, Paolo Tommasi, Michel Boyer,Maria Pergay, Isabelle Hebey, Martine Dufour, Andre Putman, Francois Arnal and Atelier A, Nanda Vigo, architect Claudio Dini, architect Michel Sadirac, architect Carla Venosta, architect Lawrence Michaels, architect Arthur Finn, and the Swiss house by Marcel Breuer.
Left to right: Creative Director Bruno Frison with Ines de la Fressange; A display of Roger Vivier shoes; Diego Della Valle, CEO of Tod’s Group.
INES DE LA FRESSANGE
She was born in Gassin, Var, France. Her French father, André de Seignard de La Fressange (b. 1932) (a marquis), was a stockbroker, and her mother, Cecilia Sanchez-Cirez, was an Argentine model. She grew up in an 18th-century mill outside Paris with three brothers. Her grandmother was Madame Simone Jacquinot, heiress to the Lazard banking fortune.
In the 1980s, she became the first model to sign an exclusive modeling contract with an haute couture fashion house, Chanel, by fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, whose muse she became. However, in 1989, Lagerfeld and De la Fressange had an argument and parted company. Likely this argument was, at least in part, regarding her decision to lend her likeness to a bust of Marianne, the ubiquitous symbol of the French republic. Lagerfeld reputedly condemned her decision, saying Marianne was the embodiment of “everything that is boring, bourgeois, and provincial” and that he would not dress up historic monuments.
In 1990, she married Luigi d’Urso (d. March 23, 2006), an Italian railroad executive, with whom she had two daughters.
Currently, De la Fressange does not model very often. Instead, she is a businesswoman with a chain of clothing boutiques, a designer, and a consultant for Jean-Paul Gaultier. She presented a creation by Gaultier for his Spring/Summer 2009 haute couture collection at the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week and walked the runway for Gaultier during the event, at age 51.
- Vivier, Paris, 1979.
- Vivier, Roger, and Cynthia Hampton, Les souliers de Roger Vivier [exhibition catalogue], Paris, 1987.
- Swann, June, Shoes, London, 1982.
- McDowell, Colin, Shoes: Fashion and Fantasy, New York, 1989.
- Trasko, Mary, Heavenly Soles: Extraordinary Twentieth-Century Shoes, New York, 1989.
- Provoyer, Pierre, Vivier, Paris, 1991.
- Pringle, Colombe, Roger Vivier, New York & London, 1999.
- Musée des Beaux-arts et de la dentelle, Folies de dentelles, [exhibition catalogue], Alençon, France, 2000.
- Cassullo, Joanne L., “Four Hundred Shoes,” in Next, December 1984.
- Bricker, Charles, “Fashion Afoot: Roger Vivier, the Supreme Shoemaker Comes to New York,” in Connoisseur (New York), December 1986.
- Buck, Joan J., “A Maker of Magic,” in Vogue (New York), December 1987.
- “Styles,” in the New York Times, 9 August 1992.
- Weisman, Katherine, “Rautureaus Sell Stake; Ink Vivier Deal,” in Footwear News, 28 February 1994.
- Menkes, Suzy, “Master Cobbler Sets Up Shop Again,” in the International Herald Tribune, 24 January 1995.
- Baber, Bonnie, et al., “The Design Masters,” in Footwear News, 17 April 1995.
- Weisman, Katherine, “Roger Vivier, 90, Mourned by Shoe World,” in Footwear News, 12 October 1998.
- “Died, Roger Vivier,” in Time, 19 October 1998.
- “Roger Vivier, France’s Footwear Extraordinaire,” [obituary] in People, 26 October 1998.
- Carmichael, Celia, “Legendary Status: Nina Honors the Creative Genius of Roger Vivier,” in Footwear News, 21 December 1998.— Dennita Sewell; updated by Sydonie Benét
*I always loved Roger Vivier’s designs.Takes me back in time. Is romantic, aristocratic and timeless.Thirteen years ago, I did a project called Palais Royal and Roger and Chanel were my inspiration.