I have been sketching a Fashion Memoir on my ipad since I have been living in France, with the wonderful program Paper 53. So when I went to Paris recently and saw the stupendous show of Roger Vivier's shoes at the Palais de Tokyo "Virgule, etc: In the Footsteps of Roger Vivier" a few other memories cropped up. Here they are, with a few illustrations, as a kind of elaborate introduction to my next blog about Roger Vivier The Master.
I grew up in the suburbs of Manhattan so I was exposed to truly amazing clothes in the 60's and 70's, which were extraordinarily formative for me as a (future) designer. Not only did I see fantastic things in Vogue, but I got to experience them in real life, not often on people but in stores like Bergdorf's and Bendel's .... and St Marks for vintage.
My neighbor Kathy's parents must have gone to a lot of parties. Her Mom's closet, where we often goofed around, had groovy sheath dresses (it was around 1970) her jewelry box was filled with long dangley sequined earrings, and she had hairpieces to stack up on her dark shiny short haircut with bangs. But it was the shoes that really got me ..... I was transfixed by the square toed spring green and white patent leather ones with square pilgrim buckles and chunky heels .... why??? Probably because they seemed to step right off the pages of Vogue .... I saw all their pictures of people at parties and didn't really understand that they were real people, I think I imagined that they must be like players in a film. But these shoes were the real thing, worn by someone I knew, and they had a great sense of humour too, just like what I was seeing in Vogue!
Shoes always held a special place in my heart and mind, and I often dreamt about them. I was lucky enough to be able to buy special and usually very expensive things at radical sale prices so I was our small town's fashion plate. I ran into my 5th grade teacher not so long ago and he said that he still remembered when I came to class with flowers painted on my knees (like Twiggy in Vogue).
Fast forward to when I was an art student in NY in the early 80's, still roving the city looking at amazing clothes and accessories I could no longer buy at those fantastic sale prices, when Roger Vivier opened a shop on Madison Avenue. I didn't know about him, and I was gobsmacked by the shoes I saw there.
For a long time I regretted not buying these on sale there for a still-astronomical price, though they were the simplest things there, I recognized them as iconic and would have worn them plenty through the 80's I guess, but I don't miss them now. Especially since there is plenty of documentation everywhere about everything from the 50's on, and the stupendous Vivier show at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, which I saw this week .....
I still wonder if Kathy's Mom had the the famous Vivier Pilgrim shoes, but it doesn't really matter, their effect on me was the same .... a formative experience for a future shoe designer.