Roger Vivier: The French icons on my feet


Any fashionista worth her Manolo Blahniks has heard of the iconic French shoe designer, Christian Louboutin. He of the distinctive red sole and perilous stiletto heels. But there is another iconic French shoe designer who was creating coveted French shoes when M. Louboutin was still in booties!

Roger Vivier is the French shoe designer who is credited with creating the modern stiletto. However, he is perhaps best known for the Belle De Jour pump, reputedly created in the 1960s for another French icon, Catherine Deneuve.

Jo Karnaghan - 28/06/13 -

The shoe itself is clearly identified by its square buckle on the front, often accompanied by a square toe and chunky midheel.

The Belle De Jour shoe, and Roger Vivier more generally, is enjoying something of a revival. This is thanks in part at least to another French fashion icon, Ines De La Fressange, who now collaborates with the venerable house.

On a recent trip to Paris, I decided a visit to the flagship Vivier boutique on Faubourg St Honore was in order to see what all the fuss was about.

Jo Karnaghan - 28/06/13 -

Arriving at the store I was a bit underwhelmed – it looked like a tiny boutique with very little stock on display. I wandered in and was promptly met with a welcoming “Bonjour madame” from the sales assistant.

I immediately spied an insignificant looking staircase. After a quick browse at the pretty woven leather sandals and handbags in gorgeous, vibrant colours at that underwhelming entrance I ventured up.

What greeted me was a vast loft spreading across three to four shop widths, full of the Belle De Jour shoe in every possible combination and permutation. There were flats, stilettos, sandals and even plastic ballet flats in every colour of the rainbow. It was an entire store – dare I say, temple – dedicated to just one shoe!

Spying a display of classic flats I head off to try and choose just one pair. Do I want the square or round toes, the gold or silver buckled, the leather-covered buckled, the denim? The velvet, or patent? White, blue, black or red maybe?  Too many choices!

JO KARNAGHAN - The French icons on my feet - My French Life - Ma Vie Française -

Finally, I narrow my choices down and start trying on. Amazingly, my size 10 flipflop-wearing Australian feet look slim, elegant, and, well, French!  My final choice is a round toed, brass buckled, in black patent leather – classic and smart.

Back home I’m loving my Belle De Jours – they go with everything from work skirts to weekend jeans. And while I’m never going to look like Ines De La Fressange, at least I know my feet do!

Image Credits:
1. & 3. Jo Karnaghan
2. Belle de Jour, by joanneteh_32(loving Laduree) on Flickr
3. Roger Vivier flats, via Pinterest

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Jo Karnaghan

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  1. Judy MacMahon Oct 22, 2013 at 8:46 AM - Reply

    Hi Jo, Did you know about the Roger Vivier – Palais de Tokyo exhibition ‘Virgule’ currently on in Paris? I thought that the readers of this article would be interested too. It runs until 18 November 2013. Here is a link! Don’t miss it! Judy

  2. Judy MacMahon Oct 22, 2013 at 8:50 AM - Reply

    Oh, and if you can’t get there, then you can immerse yourself in these wonderful images – In the footsteps of Roger Vivier – Enjoy ‘frenchiying’ you life!

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