After designing Queen Elizabeth II’s ruby-encrusted kidskin pumps for her coronation in 1953, the late Roger Vivier aptly earned the title “Fabergé of Footwear.” For many designers, these might feel like difficult shoes to fill. In early 2018, 39-year-old French designer Gherardo Felloni became the creative director of Vivier’s legendary French maison. Since then, he has marveled audiences and devotees with styles that are classic, yet fresh and on-trend.
Ines de la Fressange, a brand ambassador for Roger Vivier, is modern French elegance realized. A model, an author, and a mother, she wears several chapeaux. At age 61, she’s still asked to walk major runway shows, and her book on secrets to Parisian glamour is treated as a modern-day Bible for Francophiles.
As youth and influencers ebb and flow, Roger Vivier is sticking with what works: the classics.
TANYA AKIM: What do you think about when you create a new shoe?
GHERARDO FELLONI: I think about achieving the perfect balance—to mix reality with fantasy, and to come up with the best way to combine both. A good designer achieves the balance between creativity and reality and is, at the same time, attentive to the world around him so as to understand what women desire.
TA: What do you look to for inspiration?
GF: Roger Vivier is a maison with an exceptional heritage, and the archives are always a great source of inspiration. For my first collection, I took inspiration both from the archives and from Monsieur Vivier himself. A big part of my universe is how I see women and the women’s world today. I wanted this collection to be very contemporary.
My passion for the arts, which is also something that I share with Monsieur Vivier, is likewise a source of inspiration. I love interior design and architecture, which inspire the shape and proportions of my creations. Also, my love of antique jewelry inspires the embellishments and embroidery I create for the collection.
TA: When did you know you'd "made it"?
GF: Whatever success I have now is a result of constant hard work, but every day there is a new challenge. I won’t say that “I’ve made it” because, for me, when you say that, it means that you have already achieved everything—and there is so much more to achieve.
TA: If you could style any historical figure in your designs, who would it be?
GF: I love women in general, whether from history or the present, whether real or fantasized. The women who inspire me, I find them everywhere and every day, especially in a city like Paris.
TA: What makes a shoe timeless?
GF: A timeless shoe, for me, is something that will be as relevant in the future as it is today. For example, the trend now, in general, is going towards casual shoes that give women the freedom to move: kitten heels, running shoes, and similar styles like this, which will always be essentials, no matter what the season.
For the Spring/Summer collection, I made the new Très Vivier pumps in different heel heights, there are the Gommette flat ballerinas, and there are also the Viv’Run sneakers. There is a sense of freedom and a quality of timelessness, which for me are key elements for Roger Vivier.
TA: What's your go-to uniform?
INES DE LA FRESSANGE: Looking at my wardrobe, someone could really think I’m weird: I mainly have navy blue jackets, white jeans, and white shirts!
TA: If you were to compare your aesthetic to a piece of fruit, what would it be?
IF: Ah, I love this question! Let’s say a tomato, because you say “to-may-to,” I say “to-mah-to!” But in relation to the question, it means that fashion is malleable: A pair of white jeans can be casual or sophisticated; it just depends on which accessories you choose.
TA: What's your advice to women who say they want more confidence?
IF: I would advise them to throw away half of their clothes—not because I am Marie Kondo, but how can someone feel really nice with items they don’t really like?
TA: If you had to incorporate one piece of clothing into every outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
IF: A white silk blouse: It’s possible to wear in many circumstances, every season of the year, anywhere in the world, and at any hour of the day or night.
TA: If you had to pick between shoes or bags, which would it be?
IF: With no hesitation, shoes! With nice shoes, you can always manage, and they will save any look (especially with Roger Vivier’s). A bag can be a basket or a furoshiki (a Japanese bag made with a piece of fabric), and you can always go without a bag and just put things in your pocket—but barefoot? It might be strange [laughs]. I say that, but I generally have very full and very heavy bags!