Gherardo Felloni on his cinematic fall 2021 collection for Roger Vivier
“I realized that in the past few years, everyone reacts to sincere things. When you do something that you really believe in, and not just for commercial reasons, people react. It’s a really, really thin line, but people understand,” argues Roger Vivier Artistic Director Gherardo Felloni, explaining his provocative new collection video for the famed shoe brand.
Felloni named his footwear flick 'Do We Show?,' a meditation on a show that never takes place, and a satirical social commentary on what is happening in the fashion and luxury since the pandemic started.
“I wanted to touch on this Covid situation, but with humor, as I am not a politician. Nobody has really commented on Covid in our world,” Felloni argued.
So, the show begins with fiver doppelgängers of five icons - Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Josephine Baker, Grace Kelly and Edith Piaf, a figure who cannot really sing. Five fashion fanatics perched on gold Louis XVI couture chairs with pink cushions. For Josephine sequined booties; while for Marilyn diamanté slippers and heels.
“Get those fucking lights on me,” screams Marilyn; while Dietrich, cigarette in hand, looks down her Teutonic nose to her dominatrix boots in black patent leather with stiletto heels, which Roger Vivier is credited with inventing. All waiting before a stage with just a giant terracotta vase of red flowers, before they all gradually stagger on to the stage and, well, die.
“Could you do it again a little more real?” requests the director, played by Felloni, a bearded Tuscan, born in Arezzo, a city whose earlier residents include Petrarch, Michelangelo and Vasari.
Each of his stars are all linked to the house; Marlene was a very close friend of Roger Vivier, who drew a special diamanté ball heel named the Marlene. He was also a very good pal of Edith; as a teenager, Vivier had been to see Baker perform in Paris, and he would go on to shod Monroe. While the character playing Kelly, in real life a very active client, wears nubby-toed floral pumps.
“Why do they die? Because if you are a performer and don’t have an audience that’s the same as dying, no?” cackles Felloni, dressed in black with a late 19th-century cameo pendant of Hercules.
The result was a collection rich in proportion and polish: spike-heel electric-blue satin boots; patent-leather boots with the house’s signature big rectangular buckle; or sensational nylon tulle booties laced with crystals and topped with cock feathers.
For day, biker boots with thick brothel-creeper soles and rectangular side buckles added a touch of real. As did the new version of their house’s clutch with the brand name embossed at the back.
For the presentation, Felloni developed seven toiles, pairing each with footwear and showing them all before pink satin curtains. Voluminous New Look dresses and robes with a twist; ideas made in denim or canvas.
After studying biology at university, Felloni, a gifted illustrator, began designing for his father’s shoe factory. Before going on to join Prada and Miu Miu, and spending over four years with Dior, straddling the reigns of John Galliano and Raf Simons.
“Once Patrizio Bertelli told me I had to design 100 pairs of shoes for the following day. So, the next day, at 11 a.m., he had 115 sketches, and I said, ‘take these!,” chuckles Felloni with pride.
He joined Roger Vivier – which is owned by Tod’s and Italian luxury billionaire Diego Della Valle - in 2018, going on to develop an opulent style that continually references the house’s innovative shapes and lasts. For Felloni, the brand’s DNA is clear, a close link to cinema and film stars.
“Roger Vivier’s lasts and heels are never banal, as he works on pure shapes.
But what’s crucial here is savoir-faire. He was a genius designer, but also technically very relevant. And rarity! It is not a brand selling millions of pairs, but it is rare. You can find something here that you cannot find in other boutiques, which is something that Diego della Valle always encourages,” he insists.
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