It's been almost twelve years since creative director Bruno Frisoni reignited the French beacon of footwear. Originally tended to by Roger Vivier — founder, designer and pioneer — how does one try to fill the shoes of a maestro accredited with the innovation of the stiletto? "Creations are beautiful when they encapsulate the house's core essence, but in a completely brand new way that carries a new spirit", says Frisoni. This designer has chosen to walk his own path instead — and, understandably so.
The Roger Vivier name is undeniably gilded with couture beginnings. The astute shoe and tastemaker, Vivier himself, shod Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior's creations in the '50s and '60s. Frisoni however, leads with a contemporary vision for the brand, working as the driving force behind the house's modern prominence over the last decade or so. "We're not just a shoe brand, we're an accessories maison," he emphasises.
In speaking to the man helming the storied repute, his cocktail of candid assertions are rather refreshing. "To be stylish, you don't think about comfort. I don't need comfort to feel good, I'm comfortable when I feel good", he declares. Not every shoe designer is willing to denounce the importance of comfort, but he's decidedly unabashed in calling a spade, a spade. Style and design remains Frisoni's priority, and it's no mystery why his track record reads like a series of homeruns. "Enjoy and have fun doing what you do. Otherwise, you'll never really succeed. If I'm crying that day, the shoe cries too — and you won't buy it".
Sharing his insights and objectives on what it means for Roger Vivier to be modern in this day and age, Frisoni speaks to us about his contemporary vision for the maison and how he is appealing to a younger clientele with sneakers.
We're less couture-like and less ladylike than before.
1. ON REINVIGORATING THE BRAND
"I work with the idea of being true to Roger Vivier because I believe that heritage is the origin. Creations are beautiful when they encapsulate the core essence, but in a completely brand new way that carries a new spirit. Sometimes you bring total newness, sometimes you interprete it, but it's very important to comprehend the motto to begin with. You have to understand what you need to bring to the maison in the context of today. Relevance is important: Times change and women change; they'll want something different."
2. ON THE SHOE AS A RACECAR
"The way I see the sense of movement in our shoes, it's just like a race car — designed to penetrate the air as quickly as possible. As with shoes, it's all about the ergonomy and dynamism of the design, which ensures that it moves with the body."
3. ON ARTICULATING TO A YOUNGER AUDIENCE
"Our pop-art T-shirts are a mood collection, and was designed because I was thinking of the younger customers."
4. ON INTRODUCING SNEAKY VIV
"Sneakers today are really the footwear of choice when people want to give an edge to their outfits. With sneakers, you can be seductive, practical, and even feminine. With a pair of wide-leg trousers, or actually, even ladylike clothing, you still look less precious and more independent by pairing it with sneakers. I think it gives you strength. As for the sneakers' name, there is a sense of curiosity to the word 'sneaky' — it's dynamic. Viv is a nickname for Vivier that has a youthful and intimate quality to it".
5. ON THE BRAND'S EVOLUTION AND PROGRESS
"What was important for us in the recent years was to show that Roger Vivier could be young and modern; a renewed version of itself. We want and need to grow stronger in certain categories — with the sneakers and the men's styles — while continuing to cultivate a cool approach to our brand. We're less couture-like and less ladylike than before. Although that might not come across strongly even till this day — because who can escape marketing (laughs) — but there's still hope for something new. I go for something new everyday."
The Roger Vivier boutique is located at Ngee Ann City, #02-12F.