The sculptural shoe designs of Roger Vivier have graced the feet of the world’s most stylish women, from Ava Gardner to Her Majesty The Queen
Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation on 2 June 1953 was a once-in-a-lifetime event, which demanded an equally exceptional wardrobe. Her Majesty’s spectacular satin Coronation gown was created by British designer Sir Norman Hartnell and embroidered with silk from Lullingstone Castle in Kent woven by Warner & Sons in Essex. The Coronation necklace was made by London’s Garrard & Co, originally for Queen Victoria in 1858, while the Coronation bouquet consisted of orchids and lily-of-the-valley from England, stephanotis from Scotland, orchids from Wales and carnations from Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. All very patriotic. But her shoes? According to company legend, these were French – created by the great French designer Roger Vivier.
“Roger Vivier designed shoes for British companies Delman and Rayne, so it was considered a diplomatic choice,” explains Roger Vivier’s current CEO Maria Cristina Lomanto. “The shoes were made of gold leather with a ruby on both heels and a decorative motif of the fleurs-de-lis. The maison had been opened in 1937 and he was already, at this time, a very well-known shoe designer. We wanted to make a tribute to this historical event so we created a new sandal with the same motif. It is our tribute to this great moment.”
Over the decades, Roger Vivier worked with fashion designers such as Christian Dior to produce extraordinary one-off shoes for a host of stars including Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich. In 1954, Vivier invented the stiletto heel, inserting a thin metal rod into wood to lend the heel the necessary strength to carry the weight of a body. This was a triumphant and trend-setting innovation. The house then became internationally famous in 1967 after Catherine Deneuve wore super-stylish Roger Vivier Pilgrim pumps with a large metal buckle in the film Belle de Jour – the shoes were eventually named after the film and remain a sensation.
The designer died in 1998 but his spirit lives on in the house he founded. Many of Vivier’s historic designs feature in the collections of leading design museums, such as the V&A in London and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The flagship Parisian boutique is modelled after Vivier’s own apartment, and there are outlets across the globe including three in the United States. The company prides itself on craftsmanship, innovation, exclusivity and is committed to achieving sustainable international growth without compromising its code of artisanship and individuality.
“We are a very special and innovative house and we have had four values since the very beginning: heritage, rarity, creativity and craftsmanship,” says Maria Cristina. “That is why our collection continues to sell in very select stores and fetches such high prices. Roger Vivier is the definition of Parisian elegance for so many people. Today we have young women looking for the new Vivier because they want this timeless symbol of elegance. We know that we are not for everybody and that we have a unique heritage. Few maisons have such a long history and a link to so many great, powerful women. The Coronation of 1953 is, to us, the most special and unique story of our brand, because Her Majesty remains the most empowered women in the world.”