Vivier’s “Virgule”

In honor of Bastille Day, we salute legendary French footwear designer Roger Vivier (1907-1998). Before working for Delman and Dior, Vivier studied sculpture at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris–training evident in his ingenious heel constructions. 

7942212adRoger Vivier, Paris
Gift of Beatrice Korshak

Vivier is credited with inventing the stiletto in 1954, using a thin metal rod to create a slim yet strong high heel. His gravity-defying "Choc" heel of 1959 can be seen on another pair in the FIDM Museum's collection. In 1963, he introduced this playful, ultrafeminine heel, which he dubbed the "Virgule"–French for "comma." The shape of the heel was echoed in the handles of the hinged, hollow wooden shoe inserts that helped the mesh uppers of this pair keep their shape.


Vivier was also known for his love of elaborate ornamentation; here, gold stitching and beads of orange glass, green glass, and gold create a jeweled effect on the translucent white and gold mesh. But it was a very simple style that became Vivier's most iconic design: the low-heeled, silver-buckled Pilgrim pumps Catherine Deneuve wore in 1967's Belle de Jour. They are still in production today, along with the Virgule, which the brand resurrected in 2013.

2 responses to “Vivier’s “Virgule”

  1. Nadine Stewart says:

    Vivier came to New York during world War II. He could not make shoes due to wartime restrictions on leather, so he became a milliner, a trade he learned in at year from another expatriate Mlle Remy. They opened a shop on the Upper East Side called Roger et Susanne. He traced his love of ornamentation to his millinery training.

  2. Becky Delson says:

    These are beautiful, but oh how my feet hurt just looking at the picture!

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