The question became more insistent when working on the spring 2023 collection, for which Felloni took his deepest dive in the archives to reinterpret and rework the staples of the brand, both paying tribute to its founder’s legacy and showing how the codes he invented are still relevant today. To further signal this intention, Felloni even tweaked the joyful extravaganza of the “Hôtel Vivier” presentation format into a “Maison Vivier” theme this time.
Yet don’t think of it as a dull corporate gathering. Vibrant colors and creativity abounded both in product and striking set-up at the presentation and cocktail event the brand staged on Thursday at the 19th-century building housing the Fondation Simone et Cino Del Duca here, which drew the likes of the upcoming movie “The Little Mermaid” star Halle Bailey; fellow actresses Kiernan Shipka and Emilia Jones; “Emily in Paris” pals Ashley Park and Camille Razat, as well as Coco Rocha and Maye Musk, among others.
“’Hôtel Vivier’ was a format I started around four years ago and was a big success, but in this moment I thought I had to stop it because it started to be repetitive,” said Felloni, who wanted to shift the focus “on the maison. Its values and messages are really powerful and people don’t see them around.”
“My approach at the brand is always to go back to the archive, because throughout all of my career, even when I was not working for Roger Vivier, I’ve been inspired by him. So I feel stupid not to do it today that I do [work here],” said Felloni with a smile. “It’s always been like this, but in this collection I was feeling that it was the moment to re-mark the savoir-faire and the idea that he invented so many things, because in this world of social media and fast information…everybody forgets everything and nobody has a memory,” he added.
Felloni’s own version of a refresher came via differently themed rooms, each dedicated to a specific Roger Vivier pillar and the reinterpretation he gave of it, ranging from the iconic Virgule and Choc sculptural and curved heels to the signature rectangular buckle and rich embroideries. The set-up amplified the celebration of the heritage, via a display of the founder’s original collages, for example, or a dark space exploring the tie between Marlene Dietrich and Vivier, who has been “the first to invent a stiletto jewel heel in history” for the actress.
In Felloni’s reinterpretation, the founder’s crystal-embellished sphere standing out on the slender heels was rendered in maxi proportions on more graphic midheels as well as turned into cubic shape in sparkly sandals, for example.
Also at the presentation, four stations spotlighted artisans’ work and know-how of the brand through live demonstration encompassing the crafting of heels and setting of buckles or crystals on the label’s shoes.
“And then there’s a special room with bags that is dedicated to embroidery because the archive is full of embroideries…as [Vivier] worked for haute couture. He was probably the first who took details from hats or dresses and put them on a shoe. That’s why every time that I introduce an embroidery on a style, it just works. It’s in the DNA,” noted Felloni.
Ditto for the limited-edition designs Felloni worked on, including the Virgule Flowers Bow sling-back style originally created in 1963, which he revisited in an acid yellow mesh version with a contrasting pink heel and exquisite floral embroideries. The shoe is topped off with a pink satin bow, also in a nod to the founder’s fascination with such an embellishment stemming from his experience as a hat maker in New York in the ’40s.
Felloni reprised the same element to adorn color-blocked satin sandals with the Choc curved heels as well as striking platform pumps with a sharp, pointy toe. Elsewhere, he kept the signature squared shape of the “Belle Vivier” buckled family expanding it with white laced boots, and covered the iconic “I Love Vivier” pump in crystals.
“Vivier was a genius. He invented everything.…He changed the way to perceive the shoe. There’s a before Roger Vivier and after Roger Vivier,” said Felloni, crediting the founder for having “worked on shoes as a dress.”
“Here you have a silhouette, before him you had [a combination of components], like a heel, an embellishment,” he noted, pointing to an archival piece with a Virgule heel.
Asked how he claims his own role within such an established and rich stylistic vocabulary, Felloni underscored that his goal is “to make this brand alive today for women living today.”
“And it’s not easy.…It might sound a little bit cheesy, but when I approach the collection, I have in my mind the archive, I look at it, I see a pair of shoes, but then I don’t go with this to the factory to try to copy it. I forget about it. I ask myself what [Vivier] would do. And that’s surely not just copying what he’s already done,” said Felloni.
The designer also underscored the need to keep in mind who would eventually wear his designs and how women can actually wear them as key drivers leading his creative process. “It has to be something that is useful for today. And then I put this product in a fairy tale, because we have to sell dreams, in a way,” he said.
Felloni additionally noted that “now women want to wear something that has consistency.”
“If you see even [fashion] shows around, everybody is capitalizing on what they are. And for me Roger Vivier is color. It’s joyful, and I believe that fashion has to bring that first.…We are the manifesto of what’s happening today in the world, so probably I feel that we need some color, some happiness and lightness,” concluded the designer.