While we have expressed our love for the beautifully designed shoes of Roger Vivier in our shoe issue, there’s a stark difference between seeing something on the page and seeing something in real life. Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum’s current exhibit Process to Perfection features some of Vivier’s most stunning works. Not only is it a good complement to our article (hint hint), it also acts as an informative look into the life and working process of the renowned shoe designer.
The artifacts in this exhibit come from the Bata Shoe Museum’s holdings, as well as the Roger Vivier Brand, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Deutsches Ledermuseum in Germany, with each institution helping to document the history of Vivier’s rise to mastery of his craft. While the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Roger Vivier Brand may provide elegant examples of Vivier’s distinct aesthetic such as the Pilgrim buckle and the perfection of the stiletto heel, pieces of the process of “becoming” Vivier can be found elsewhere. For example, many sketches, as well as “pullover” prototypes from the archives at the Bata Shoe Museum are included in the display, alongside some of Vivier’s earliest prototypes created while working at a German leather company during the ’30s. These pieces were only recently discovered as a part of Vivier’s material legacy, given the fact they were created prior to his fame as a designer.
Vivier’s work has become so ubiquitous in ’50s cinema that to see his work broken down to its elements is a reminder of all the work that exists behind some of the most iconic shoes.