The creator of the New Look, however, would never have allowed anyone other than an equally legendary shoe designer to put their signature next to his. A clearer proof of the great esteem in which Christian Dior held Roger Vivier is hard to find.
Vivier started his career in the shoe business during his studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, when he accepted a job in a shoe factory owned by a relative of his. Within a few years he had learned every trick of the trade. His studies in sculpting, which came in handy during the rest of his career, explain the characteristic, sculptural style of most of his shoe designs.
Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot
Gravity was never much of an obstacle to Vivier, who laid particular emphasis on heels. He has been cited as the inventor of the stiletto heel but surely he is responsible for the Comma heel and Shock heel. In the mid-1960s, he also blew new life into existing shoe types. With this shoe types he made actresses like Catherine Deneuve (Belle de Jour-buckle shoes, based on the Pilgrim Buckle shoe) and Brigitte Bardot (Harley-Davidson thigh-length boots also called cuissardes) almost immortal.
I. Miller and Delman
Starting from the 1930s, Vivier caused a real revolution on the North American shoe market as a designer for the leading New York-based manufacturers I. (Israel ) Miller and Delman. All Vivier's creations in those years were commissioned by Laboremus, a subsidiary of the German Heyl'sche Lederwerke leather factory in Worms-Liebenau. At that time Laboremus’ headquarters was located on the Place Vendôme in Paris, just a few steps away from the famous Ritz Hotel.
Until recently, hardly any research had been done into Vivier’s creations from the period before working with Christian Dior. Thanks to an observant member of the staff in the German Leather Museum in Offenbach, which houses the German Shoe Museum in one of its wings, a hidden treasure was found in the museum collection: 40 prototypes from the master himself, dating back to the 1930s.
These models represent the beating heart of the Shoe Treasures - Roger Vivier exhibition that will be hosted by the Dutch Leather and Shoe Museum from 21 February 2015. The long-lasting friendship with the German Leather Museum allows us to bring the exhibition to Waalwijk. In Germany, both the public and national and international press showed huge interest in the work of the French designer. Reason enough for the German exhibition, with the name 'Schuhwerke – Roger Vivier', to be extended no less than twice.
Marlene Dietrich’s shoes
In this exhibition, the Laboremus designs will be complemented with unique shoes by the House of Dior, designs that have been manufactured under the labels 'Roger Vivier for Saks Fifth Avenue' and 'Delman'. Highlights of the exhibition are four pairs of court shoes, especially made for the German actress Marlene Dietrich. These shoes will be on show courtesy of the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin. Needless to say, several Vivier models from the collection of the Dutch Leather and Shoe Museum will also be part of the exhibition.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a trilingual full colour catalogue (German – English – Dutch). Dr. Rosita Nenno from the German Leather Museum in Offenbach is curator of the exhibition and also the author of the catalogue.
Shoe Treasures - Roger Vivier
21 February – 28 June 2015
Dutch Leather and Shoe Museum
Elzenweg 25, Waalwijk, the Netherlands
For more information Dutch Leather and Shoe Museum'