BEIRUT: Local ladies can now get their stilettos straight from the source. A Roger Vivier boutique – the designer brand credited with inventing the stiletto heel – has opened in Downtown’s shopping district. The new boutique opened among the luxury stores on Abdallah Beyhum Street (a few turns around the cobble-stone alleys beside An-Nahar’s headquarters).
The opening of the Beirut store was a global milestone for the brand, it said in a press release announcing the local boutique.
For those unfamiliar with Roger Vivier, it’s likely you already own an imitation of one of his many footwear legacies – a history that makes the brand’s presence in Lebanon all the more interesting.
The stiletto, for example, debuted in 1954, during Vivier’s days working alongside Christian Dior. Around that time, Vivier’s personal clientele ranged from Harlem’s wild child Josephine Baker to British Queen Elizabeth II, who wore his shoes to her coronation in 1953.
One of Vivier’s most iconic shoes was the buckle pump, which sold more than 200,000 in the first year, according to vogue.com’s Voguepedia.
Other contributions to women’s shoe design include the cork platform knee-high crocodile boots and the bent Virgule heel, which Vogue called one of the most-copied styles in footwear history.
His contemporaries and fashion writers often compared Vivier to a sculptor because of his obsession with shape.
“Lines have always enthralled me,” the designer said. “I’ll resketch my drawing 500 times to check the exactness of the idea and respect the foot’s architecture.”
The opening of the boutique in Beirut coincides with a whimsical retrospective at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo celebrating the work and historic contributions of the late shoemaker to ladies’ footwear.
Vivier, who died in 1998, passed the mantle on to designer Bruno Frisoni. So focused on footwear, the brand didn’t branch out to other women’s accessories until 2003.
At the Downtown shop, a fall-winter collection now sitting on the shoe- and handbag-lined walls is a contemporary reflection of Vivier’s numerous footwear legacies.
One of Vivier’s most iconic details graced a variety of flats and stilettos perched on tables and lacquered shelves around the shop: silver buckles, crystal buckles, suede buckles. The Virgule, the comma-shaped heel, is done in pointed houndstooth, patent leathers and metallics.
The collection also preserves Vivier’s love of highly embellished heels, with the heavy use of beading and applique nostalgic of another era in footwear.