I rushed last week to see the new Roger Vivier retrospective at the Palais de Tokyo and I was in shoe heaven. Roger Vivier was one of the greatest and prolific shoe designers ever with a long career spanning over 6 decades. He was also an innovator, as he invented the first stiletto heel and his famous comma heel. The 140 styles handpicked for the show by curator Olivier Sailliard bedazzled even this hardcore shoe fanatic. The delicate femininity plus the rich and sometimes outlandish fabrications including feathers, beads, embroidery by Lesage and Rebet, stones, sequins, silk, ruffles, printed silk, and glass beads, make the shoes into works of fine art.
Vivier started in the 1930s and he rose to fame by designing shoes for Christian Dior between 1953 and 1963. His international celebrity clientele included Ava Gardner, Jeanne Moreau, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot, the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Soraya of Iran, and the Beatles. The pinnacle of his career was when he was commissioned to design Queen Elizabeth’s coronation shoes in 1953. Perhaps Vivier’s most iconic and timeless shoe was the Pilgrim pump he designed for Catherine Deneuve in the 1967 Bunuel film Belle de Jour, which made the shoes an instant smash and are still produced and sold today.