Gherado Felloni and Roger Vivier is a partnership that’s meant to be. Throughout his career, Felloni was inspired by the creativity that shoe designer Roger Vivier possessed, and it has continued to drive him since joining the brand as Creative Director in 2018.
Gherardo Felloni - Creative Director Roger Vivier
Over the past five years, Felloni has been infusing the brand’s accessory collections with his joyful, decorative spirit – evolving the founder’s legacy with his worldly design language for today. Working at a brand with a beautiful history of the finest savoir-faire, Felloni has found the perfect balance of pushing the boundaries but honouring the heritage and capability of the brand.
This summer, Roger Vivier presented the Viv’ Choc Pièce Unique collection during Paris Haute Couture Week. This special collection of one-of-a-kind handbags designed by Felloni explores the absolute heights of aspirational French savoir-faire. Each unique creation is a delicate fantasia of embroidery and precious textiles showcasing creativity and the finest in craftsmanship. As the collection was revealed in Paris, we talked to Gherardi Felloni to find out more about this and the future direction of the brand.
Congratulations on the Viv’ Choc Pièce Unique collection – tell us how this collection came to life.
This collection came from the desire to share our capabilities and savoir-faire with the world. It’s not the first time our top clients have asked for special, unique pieces, so we knew they would welcome it. It was a nice process for me, too, because, creatively speaking, there was a lot of freedom. We wanted to show what we could do, and it’s a project we enjoyed.
Can you tell us about the inspiration, the choice of colours, materials, shapes, and the creative process?
I decided to put a theme to this collection because I believe the project will continue, and since they are unique pieces, they have to change a lot from season to season. So as a first step, I decided to talk a lot about the codes of Roger Vivier that I believe everyone should know – the fact that we are based in Paris and that Roger Vivier has always taken a lot of references from iconic French landmarks such as Versailles, The Eiffel Tower, and the 18th French history century in general. So I decided to reinterpret this for the collection using some of the most iconic things that inspired Roger Vivier as a designer from around France. We have reinterpreted some of these locations in unusual ways, and we also looked to the muses that inspired Roger Vivier himself and used them as inspiration as well.
Regarding the materials, we used only the finest materials – satin, velvet, feathers, python, crocodile – the most precious and delicate materials we could find. Embroideries are made of feathers and natural pearls; everything is very beautiful.
These pieces are truly works of art; how important is it to you to celebrate the finest in savoir flair and craftsmanship?
It’s something that I have believed in since I joined Roger Vivier. I always talk about what differentiates a beautiful and multi-level Maison from brands who might speak of savoir-faire and heritage but do not actually have it. I have always taken a lot of inspiration from Roger Vivier himself since the beginning of my career. He was an inventor, but at the same time, he was very attached to the atelier because he worked as a haute couture designer, in the sense that the embroideries, the workmanship, and the details that he was putting into his shoes, reflected those of Haute Couture designs. Today, for a brand like Roger Vivier, and especially at this moment when everyone is capitalising on savoir-faire and heritage, it’s time to let people know what we are capable of. We have never been a brand that shows off, but it is time to share our skills and beauty with the world.
Tell us about your vision and direction for Roger Vivier today.
Roger Vivier is a very unique brand. As a designer, he was, of course, famous for shoes, but today we are growing a lot in other categories – jewellery, bags, belts. And I think that is a natural evolution because Roger Vivier himself was very closely linked to the silhouette of women. He worked with the likes of Christian Dior and Saint Laurent, and he really changed the silhouette of women. So it wouldn’t be right to tell the brand’s story without thinking about this, and what I mean by the silhouette is shoes, bags, clothes, hats – the full universe – and that’s why today we are capitalising on other categories. We have started to create jewels, and they are performing very well, and I believe that the future of Roger Vivier will have a bigger space for other accessory categories.
Would you ever move it into ready-to-wear?
It’s not something we are thinking about now. We have created some gilets, which will be in stores in September, but for me, they are more like an accessory for the body than clothing items. They are super-embroidered and very beautiful. So for the moment, ready-to-wear is not on the plan, but we have a lot of space to grow!
We know you also recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the iconic Vigule heel – what does this shoe design mean within the universe of Roger Vivier, and how do you continue to ensure it remains relevant today?
The Virgule was not very present in the collections when I arrived at Roger Vivier. It has been an obsession for all shoe designers over the years. It’s a shoe icon. So when I joined, I decided to bring it back and reinvent it for today. I believe it is a good moment to bring back this heel. It is a kitten heel with a very contemporary and playful design. It’s super iconic but, at the same time, modern. I have changed the shape slightly from the original but preserved the shoe’s identity.
In your opinion, what makes a design an icon?
That’s a big question! Any product that has become iconic in fashion was not planned to be an icon. It’s not something you can predict. All the iconic bags or shoes in history are still here because a designer decided to do something new or unexpected at the right moment. For me, it’s easy to reinvent icons because Roger Vivier has many. My goal is to reinterpret these with a contemporary customer in mind. If I had to sum up the secret to inventing an icon, it would be creativity but finding that creativity at the right moment in time.
How do you ensure that Roger Vivier stands out as a brand today?
There is no other brand like Roger Vivier. It’s a French Maison, there are a lot of iconic styles in our archives, and there’s beautiful savoir-faire. There are no other brands that have that same placement. We are very niche and special; everything we do is well done in Italy in small quantities, and our designs are complex. This kind of rarity makes the brand different. It’s almost five years since I joined Roger Vivier, and I’m always surprised how clients react to our products.
How do you appeal to younger or new customers but not alienate your longstanding clients?
In luxury and fashion, you must look towards new clients, not look back, because our loyal clients will follow us. They are happy to have newness; they are not scared. I’m a respectful designer, so I would never completely change our work. I have taken inspiration from Roger Vivier throughout my career, so it would be a shame to join the brand and change everything! You don’t risk losing clients when you are loyal and respect the brand as a designer. Our clients are curious, and they want to experiment.
Can you tell us about Roger Vivier in the Middle East and what your clients here are looking for from accessories?
The Middle East offers a huge opportunity for Roger Vivier because we are quite small there in terms of retail, but we have a lot of clients who buy our products around the world when they are travelling. I believe that Roger Vivier is a perfect brand for this market. The rarity of the brand is amazing, and the quality is super high, and that’s what customers in the Middle East are looking for. I always see Middle Eastern clients as clients who understand the luxury industry and its products. When you present something very elevated to a client, you need them to know why this product is so special; in this market, customers understand that. Our boutique in Dubai is performing very well, and the retail buying is beautiful.
What message would you send to your friends and clients in the Middle East?
If you are investing in a product from Roger Vivier, you will surely get something special and quite rare, I’m in awe of every detail, and you will be too. And of course, now that we are more present in the market, we will be creating special products for the Middle East.
What can you tell us about the upcoming collections this year?
Our big focus this year is the Shock bag which will be in stores in September. I love the design of this bag – the buckle, the completely new chain – and the draping technique in soft leather. It’s a beautiful bag.
What is a lesson you have learned throughout your career?
Fashion is a creative job, but it’s a big business, so you have to believe in yourself as a designer. It’s very easy to lose your focus, so try to keep the focus and don’t be scared when you have an intuition.
How do you get inspired?
It sounds very cliché, but I believe inspiration is all around us. As a designer, you need to truly see what’s around you and get the right inspiration at the right moment.
What’s the professional motto that you live by?
Fashion is about selling dreams, and I try to be positive and propose products that are as dreamy as possible.