The Roger Vivier shop on Madison Avenue looks as much like a gallery as a shoe shop: There are shoes on pedestals and collages and fashion art on the walls. But why shouldn't it? The designs of Vivier, who for years designed the shoes shown with the Christian Dior couture clothes, often appear to have sculpted shapes.
At 13, Vivier apprenticed himself to a shoe manufacturer to make enough money for his sculpture classes at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. In 1937, he created the first platform shoe for Schiaparelli.
Some of his most innovative styles were those he created for such private customers as Marlene Dietrich, the Duchess of Windsor, the Beatles and Rudolf Nureyev. The flat heel shoe with the silver buckle he designed to go with the Yves Saint Laurent collection may well be the most copied shoe around. When he had a shop on the Rue Franc,ois I, in Paris, it was the favorite place for women like Gloria Guinness, Mona Williams and the Duchess of Windsor to shop just after the Dior show.
He's revived the deceptively comfortable comma-shaped heel in his current collection, as well as the shoe with the ball above the base of the heel that was Dietrich's favorite. He offers them just as he did for Dietrich, in gold or rhinestone for evening, or if you like, on boots.