From the Vault: Roger Vivier Pullovers

Take a peek into our 14,000+ collection with our blog series, From the Vault! Every other week, we're sharing interesting stories about one of our artefacts.

What is the provenance of this object? When did they enter the BSM collection?

This is a ‘pullover’ of Roger Vivier’s design, The Rocket, and was created for Yves Saint Laurent when he was the head of Dior in 1959. It was acquired from Rayne as part of a large group purchase of Vivier pullovers by the museum in 1994.

Are there any features that distinguish this artefact from others of the same period and geographical location?

Roger Vivier was picked by Christian Dior to be the Dior shoemaker in 1953 and Vivier worked for the House of Dior until 1963. The architectural aspects of Vivier’s work was central to Dior’s appreciation of Vivier and equally valued by Saint Laurent when he took over after Dior’s death in 1957. Just as Saint Laurent’s first designs for Dior challenged the fashion world, so did Vivier’s new creations as he introduced strikingly innovative heels and toes with each collection.

Although Vivier’s cutting-edge designs complemented Saint Laurent’s controversial creations, the two did not work side by side. Vivier worked with Saint Laurent in the same way that he had worked with Dior, and he explained the process in a 1958 interview, “I create my models alone quite independently of Dior or Saint Laurent. I do not see the collection until I have completed my shoe designs. When the shoes are ready, Saint Laurent sees the models and selects those which he feels are the most suitable for his collection.” (Celia Benabu, “M. Roger Vivier,” 1958)

The models that Dior and Saint Laurent would have seen were pullovers, such as this one. Pullovers are shoe prototypes that do not yet have soles or often heels. The Vivier pullovers in the collection include notes and pen marks on the designs, indicating changes to be make prior to production.

Can you elaborate more on this artefact?

The Rocket featured a sharply geometric toe that showed little regard for the shape of the human foot. The final design included Vivier’s innovative choc heel as can be seen in this 1959 spread in the French magazine L’Officiel.

To see other Vivier's from our collection, check out our Unboxing the BSM series on our YouTube channel below.

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