A pause, a breath, a split-second to reflect.
The house of Roger Vivier celebrates the 60th anniversary of the ‘Virgule’ heel – one of the designer’s most revolutionary creations and a milestone in the world of 20th century shoe design.
Dreamed up in 1963 in the shape of a comma, the ‘Virgule’ was a radical gesture for its time, executed by inverting the slope of a high heel to create a sweeping concave form: one that flicks back on itself inward, with the illusion of a void. This exaggerated, avant-garde expression was unveiled at a moment of great change for Monsieur Vivier, as he parted ways with Christian Dior and launched his eponymous label at 24 rue François 1er in Paris, France. Thought of as a comfortable and elegant alternative to the high stiletto heel fashionable at the time, the ‘Virgule’ was also the diametric opposite of Monsieur Vivier’s convex ‘Choc’ heel, and the perfect breakout creation for the designer who, from that time onwards, would go on to design fantastic creations under his own name and for Haute Couture houses from Yves Saint Laurent to Grès, Nina Ricci, and Balmain.
Evolving throughout the 20th and into the 21st centuries, the ‘Virgule’ heel has seen myriad iterations dreamed up by Monsieur Vivier, from pumps in canary yellow satin, sea green embroidery, or black suede with bows, to blue crystal-embellished sandals. Celebrated in the exhibition Virgule, Etc. curated by Olivier Saillard at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2013, precious examples of the ‘Virgule’ heel are preserved in the fashion archives of The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, the Palais Galliera: Fashion Museum of the City of Paris,the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and other key fashion institutions around the world.
The ‘Virgule’ in 2023
Today, creative director Gherardo Felloni has nuanced the ‘Virgule’ heel with his own interpretations of the historical shape, its modernity alive and well expressed through new materials and decorative flourishes. Rethinking the ‘Virgule’ itself as a high-shine moulded heel with an embossed calligraphy logo, Gherardo Felloni’s designs for Fall Winter 2024 place the emphasis on colour and shine. In shades of chartreuse green and ice pink, marigold and ruby red, styles such as tulle mary-janes sparkle with Cubist crystal buckles, patent slingbacks are emblazoned with a tonal matte resin buckle and pointed sandals with a cutaway profile in satin or bouclé tweed feature sleek contrast bows in patent leather and crystal.