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Friday 23 August, 2013

Step in right direction as Vivier celebrates 10 years with Friso

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Think of fashionable shoes today and the names of Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin might spring to mind. But there are a few much-mythologised shoemakers of past who have contributed far more to how women wear their shoes.

Roger Vivier, now celebrating the 10th anniversary of its relaunch, is a quietly evolving label balancing the classicism of the past and the trends of today.

Vivier designer Bruno Frisoni. Photo: Stephane CardinaleUnknown to many, the French shoemaking founder studied sculpture at Paris' École des Beaux-Arts in 1924 - and subsequently invented the stiletto heel. Vivier even went on to make shoes for Hollywood stars and Queen Elizabeth II.

Other signatures include the "comma" heel, his famous rectangular buckle, and the square pinched toe, playfully named the "canard", which is having a resurgence. But ironically, for someone who invented the stiletto, Vivier favoured midi and low heels.

His designs could be wild, like the African mask shoes he did for Yves Saint Laurent, or refined, like those worn by Catherine Deneuve in Belle du Jour. Deneuve is still a fan.

The rebirth of the brand under Italian designer Bruno Frisoni and Tod's Group, has added a modern edge to the label, dressing the dainty toes of Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Marion Cotillard.

A Rizzoli book was launched to mark 10 years in this new Vivier chapter - a retrospective of the brand's journey, with vintage pictures of Brigitte Bardot and Katharine Hepburn in Viviers to take you back to a cinematic heyday.

Frisoni, and the brand's ambassador Inès de La Fressange are also in the book's pages. Flicking through, you notice that there's more to the brand than the "canard" buckled low heels that have become classic Vivier items, and those pointy-toed midis.

Frisoni's introduction of the hugely successful Prismick shoe and bag collection heralds a geometric, futuristic aesthetic that has captured the hearts of a younger clientele, myself included. I'm a fan of vintage styles, and a fan of shoes that women can actually walk comfortably in, and that may be why I have a soft spot for Viviers.

The Prismick collection is architectural and edgy, while the low chunky heels are elegantly shaped and demure. That both have become signatures of the label is quite something. Viviers aren't flashy seasonal shoes that fall out of favour a year later.

They have more substance and a lot more history: a good, quiet, investment. And that's especially the case if, like me, towering, blinged-out stilettos aren't your thing.

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