A Treasure Trove of Roger Vivier

Europeana Fashion is happy to be home to nearly 300 of Roger Vivier’s shoe designs. Roger Vivier is one of the most celebrated shoe designers of the 20th century. His designs have adorned the feet of women like Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich and Queen Elizabeth. Here we select some of his most iconic designs.

roger vivier paris les arts decoratifs europeana fashion

Roger Vivier, "Belle Vivier", 1966. Collection Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris. All rights reserved.

Roger Vivier was born in Paris in 1907. After his parents passed away at the age of 10, he started an apprenticeship in a shoe factory on the outskirts of the city. Already at a young age, Vivier’s designs stood out. Their vibrant colours and wit contrasted sharpely with the more drab styles of the time.

In 1937, he opened his own shop in Paris. With the onset of WWI, however, Vivier moved to New York, as did many others individuals from Paris’ artistic circles. He reopened his shop in the city, but a lack of leather due to wartime shortages blocked him from making shoes. Instead, he started making hats with Parisian milliner Suzanne Rémy. Their shop on 64th street was all the rage.

europeana fashion roger vivier christian dior 1950s plastic transparent europeana fashion charles jourdan

Christian Dior / Roger Vivier. Collection Museo Rossimoda della Calzatura. CC-BY-NC-ND.

After WWII, Vivier returned to Paris and both his career and innovations took flight. In the 1940s, Vivier became the first to use transparent plastic in footwear. Soon after, he was introduced to Christian Dior and he became the house’s shoe designer in the 1950s. During this time,  he reintroduced the stiletto and made the fetishised heel reach new heights, literally and figuratively.

roger vivier les arts decoratifs europeana fashion stiletto paris  christian dior 1950s

Christian Dior / Roger Vivier, 1955/1960. Collection Les Arts Décoratifs., Paris. All rights reserved.

In the 1963 Vivier relaunched his own business. During this decade, Vivier introduced thigh-high boots in plastic and moon boots. John Lennon wore a pair studded with rhine stones. He launched one of his most iconic designs in 1965, the Belle Vivier, a low-heeled pump with a buckle on the front. It was famously worn by Catherine Deneuve in the film Belle de Jour in 1967.

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Roger Vivier, "Vague", 1995. Collection Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris. All rights reserved.

Vivier continued to design and sell 1000s of his designs over the next decades until his death in 1998. Even in 1996, at the age of 88, he innovated with a heel and sole moulded out of the same piece of plastic. His legacy did not go unnoted. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, retrospective exhibitions honoured his work and many museums around the world have his shoes in their collections.

The Roger Vivier collection in Europeana Fashion comes from the collections of Museo Rossimoda della Calzatura and from Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Discover all Roger Vivier in Europeana Fashion.


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