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Roger Vivier exhibition

9 Oct 2013

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The house of Roger Vivier is currently showing a retrospective exhibition at Palais de Tokyo in Paris to celebrate its eponymous founder, inventor and benchmark reference in the history of fashion.

The exhibition, titled Virgule, etc, "in the footsteps of Roger Vivier," is designed as a pastiche of a museum dedicated to shoes, drawing on Roger Vivier’s inspirations. Reference of Africa, the Orient, the 18th century, French and English artists – these are all themes that the shoemaker shared with the most venerable art institutions.

More an inventor than a shoemaker, Roger Vivier began his career in the 1930s and the 140 models exhibited in the “Saut du Loup” at the Palais de Tokyo retrace this path.

Roger Vivier saw the shoe as a piece of sculpture whose shape he ceaselessly questioned. “Lines have always enthralled me,” confided the shoemaker, “I’ll resketch my drawing five hundred times to check the exactness of the idea and respect the foot’s architecture.”

Heels were his key component, from the stiletto, which he was the first to launch in 1954, to the “Etrave” (1958) and the “Choc” (1959) to the sinuous “Virgule”, or comma heel, which he designed as his own brand manifesto in 1963. The shape of the shoe was equally so captivating to him that in 1958 the upper was enhanced with the “Turk” or “Guitar” toe.

A renovator of structure and surface, Roger Vivier has never shied away from embroidery, raising the shoe to a status of objet d’art with thanks due to the century-old expertise of Rébé and Lesage. The eminence of Roger Vivier was such that, in the 1950, he was the only one of Christian Dior’s collaborators to have his name included alongside that of the couture designer. At that time, most Paris fashion shows from Schiaparelli to Yves Saint Laurent, resonated with the spirit of creativity that pushed Vivier to launch his own eponymous label in 1963.

For historians, it is of interest Vivier designed the royal shoes for the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and his creations were worn by the greatest figures of the day.

The exhibition will show until 18 November.

Images: Roger Vivier