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Toronto, Canada – An exhibition featuring an exquisite display of bejeweled and elegantly sculptural shoes which have been found on the feet of elegant women around the world has opened at the Bata Shoe Museum.
The exhibition, Roger Vivier: Process to Perfection, is by Roger Vivier one of the world’s most celebrated shoe designers of the 20th century.
Vivier rose to fame in the 1950s when he began to design footwear for Christian Dior and his shoes became the epitome of mid-century glamour. Often inventive in form and dripping with ornament, Vivier’s footwear earned him a glittering clientele, an enduring place in the history of fashion and the title, “The Faberge of Shoes.”
“Vivier was fascinated by different heel types and some of his most influential pieces included innovative heels such as his refined needle heel, the choc heel and his iconic comma heel”, says Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator at the Bata Shoe Museum. “We really want visitors to walk away from the exhibition with a newly formed appreciation for his stunningly beautiful designs and his ceaseless effort to hone his process while continually striving for perfection.”
Roger Vivier’s artistic sensibilities led him to study sculpture at l’Ecole des Beaux Arts between 1924 and 1925 but he was introduced to his life’s profession by a family friend who offered him a job at a shoe factory in the late 1920s.
By the early 1930s, Vivier was making shoes for famous clients such as Mistinguett and Josephine Baker as well as designing shoes for shoe manufactures such as Delman and Bally. It was also at this time that Vivier began to design shoes for the German tannery Heyl-Libenau through Laborémus, their Paris affiliate.
Vivier debuted two of the most defining forms of footwear of the decade, the thigh-high boot and the low-heeled buckle shoe. Both of these designs earned him instant recognition as a herald of the new mode but interestingly both styles were rooted in 18th century fashion.
His success was unrivalled as the 1960s progressed; he was “the busiest shoe designer in town.” In 1968, the same year he was awarded the coveted Neiman-Marcus prize, he added scarves and gloves to his lines of accessories. In 1969, Vivier created a new department in his salon, Monsieur Vivier, where he offered made-to-measure shoes for men.
The exhibition layout reflects the subtitle of the exhibition with one room exploring Vivier’s working process and the other room allowing visitors to appreciate the artistry of his shoes. Beautiful graphics, elegant décor, including opulent chandeliers balance the stark white walls allowing the approximately 65 artifacts on view to dazzle.
Due to the fragility of some of the artifacts, every three months will see several of the pieces change offering repeat visitors an opportunity to see additional Vivier shoes. An exciting programming and lecture series has been developed to accompany the exhibition. Roger Vivier: Process to Perfection will be on view until April 7, 2013.
Image Courtesy of Bata Shoe Museum