Roger Vivier creative director Gherardo Felloni spent quarantine in his Italian holiday home, a lighthouse on a tiny island off Italy’s Tyrrhenian Coast.
Following his fall ’20 presentation over Paris Fashion Week in February, he’d gone to work on prototypes at his brand’s Italian factory on the mainland. He headed home to sit things out when the country’s lockdown started. Built in 1830, the lighthouse is one of the oldest in Italy, sits on a hill five minutes from the sea and is surrounded by pine woods and grape vines.
When he wasn’t working on spring ’21, Felloni was busy installing an irrigation system for the land surrounding his property and planting an extensive vegetable and herb garden with tomatoes, artichokes, basil and rosemary. “I wanted to make sure we had fresh food, he said but there is a very strict list of what you’re allowed to plant because everything needs to be indigenous to the island.”
Unsurprisingly his spring collection draws on his surroundings and he revealed some of the bags and shoes will feature hand-painted flowers. He wanted the collection to emphasize how how the natural world still continued while humans were in suspended animation. “Spending months surrounded by nature, really brought home its importance,” he said.
The island setting also provides the backdrop for a mini Roger Vivier campaign featuring key pieces from the current spring ’20 collection like the Lounge Strass Mules, Trekky Viv’ and Biki Viv’ sandals. The series of images was conceptualized by Felloni himself and produced by a group of his friends.
Going forward, he has rethought his design approach on a wider level with emphasis on a tighter edit, quality, longevity and versatility.
The spring ’21 collection will be more focused he said. Given more leisure time to take stock, consumers are becoming more discriminating. “Sometimes, when you do less it’s actually more difficult to hit on the right thing though,” he admitted. “That’s the challenge for every designer.”
“I think everyone, myself included, is also paying more attention to quality when they buy something so I am lucky as I work for a house with a long history of ‘made in Italy’ craftsmanship,” he added.
Although he is adamant that he doesn’t want “to forget about fashion altogether,” he is also focusing more on longevity than trends of the moment. Versatility and wearability are watchwords. To that end, he is further evolving Vivier’s more casual side with a greater concentration on low heels and flats.
“I am always about being comfortable and have never been about super high heels anyway. It’s not just down to the pandemic,” he said, noting that things have been gravitating in that direction for some time.
He won’t give up on high heels completely though. “I still love to do special party shoes as it’s in the DNA of the maison,” he concluded, “but I believe that when I present the new collection in September, you will see a good balance.”
Roger Vivier’s physical presentations are always highlights of the Paris schedule. However, with the situation this September being an unknown quantity, the brand is currently working on “a surprise format,” which will also translate for a digital audience.
While it won’t change in spirit, he said, “the way we propose it will be different.” He noted that his house always works closely with the world of cinema and harnesses its social channels to take such events to a wider audience.
He is confident, however, that physical fashion events will return eventually.
“Just like cinema and theater, fashion managed to survive two world wars so it will survive this too,” he said. “Of course things will evolve but live events won’t be killed off. The virtual world cannot replace the real one.”