Exit Interview: Bruno Frisoni of Roger Vivier - Hashtag Legend

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Exit Interview: Bruno Frisoni of Roger Vivier

Apr 23, 2018

Bruno Frisoni

Recently, I had to sit in on a corporate exit interview with a human resources executive; the departing candidate was asked about the joys and woes of their employment situation. What would that type of chat be like with Bruno Frisoni, the gregarious creative director at Roger Vivier, who after 16 grand years was making his departure? I’d bet the biggest difference would be the numerous interruptions from the likes of the fashion who’s who – think Suzy Menkes, Olivia Palermo, Georgia Fowler and Joan Smalls, just to name a few from the hour I was there. Though billed as a presentation of the latest autumn/winter 2018 collection in Paris, the gathering sure felt like an upbeat going-away party.

So this isn’t really goodbye, is it?

[laughs] I have had 16 wonderful years at this house. I’m not really the type of person that is so absolute about anything, but I think that change is good. Sixteen years is a long time.

When you get dressed for the day, in which part of the closet do you start?

The assumption would be shoes. Honestly, it would be convenient to say “shoes”, because that would probably help sell more – but that isn’t always the case for me. It could be a sweater or a mix of things. For example, the other day, I was going to Italy to say goodbye to everyone at the factory. I started to put together a look that was black and navy blue. But then I stopped myself because I realised that I didn’t want to bring a sad feeling. I changed into yellow for positivity. It totally worked for me! When I arrived, everyone was sad and crying, but I told them it didn’t have to be this way – it’s beautiful, we’ve had some good years together, let’s have a laugh! Life isn’t over. Change is good for everyone. When I feel sorrow, I need colour.

I understand that you often reference Roger Vivier’s work; I imagine that process is similar to an actor getting into character. Did you find any striking similarities between him and you?

Yes, I think there are many. I never met the man, but we shared a passion for couture, for dressing, for styling shoes with fabric more than leather. We both definitely had a penchant for strong shoe silhouettes inspired by couture; Roger Vivier was often referenced as a shoe couturier. We both like to tell stories through the shoes. Sometimes you don’t need to tell a story to everyone, but telling yourself a story is important.

What are the impressions you hope to make with this final collection – the swansong?

[shaking his head] No, not the last song! I didn’t work on this collection even thinking I was leaving. You don’t do a collection with that feeling. I don’t see it as a swansong for Roger Vivier – there’s nothing about the collection that says it’s the last one. We don’t want to do things like that. It’s always a new page. I always live in the present, never in the past. I do love to look at the past – it gives me food for the day. But I believe in the future.

I always try to understand what I want to go for. For me, this is the “present last” collection. I very much enjoyed being here – 16 years at the creative helm of Roger Vivier. It was a great honour and I enjoyed it immensely.

There’s a strong Moroccan influence in the collection. Is that a special place for you?

Yes, for a long time now! I discovered Morocco 10 years ago; I have a house in Tangiers. It’s really interesting because it has both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. I’m of Italian origin, so the most important area of the world for me is the Mediterranean Sea – there’s a mix of Eastern breeze, and Africa and Europe. It’s always an inspiration in my mind. Sometimes it’s more evident in the collection, but not always direct.

Heels from spring/summer 2008 haute couture

My impression of Morocco is that it’s really about the feeling.

It’s definitely about the feeling. There is pasamenterie: the weaving and cording. There are these little boys who can adorn beautiful things in the street. They can match colours exactly to whatever’s needed. It’s almost like everything is made to measure. The thread you see, infused in the collection, is very Moroccan. Suede with this colour thread – show pieces that can be worn evening or day. It’s incredible for dressing up. Crystal is beautiful; I still love it. But I think you can shine without crystal with these vibrant suedes and such beautiful handiwork.

What’s the soundtrack to your life?

I’m not in one direction all the time. In the morning, I always listen to classical music. When it gets to the afternoon, I move into techno, electro or something synthetic that is upbeat. Towards the end of the day, it’s usually jazz, though I do enjoy some fun pop music sometimes. [Roxy Music’s Avalon is playing in the background throughout the interview.] For instance, I was just at a dinner with friends and this song came on – Bryan Ferry was singing with his beautiful crooner voice, and it was so glamorous and sexy. Sometimes I just need some glamour!

Bruno Frisoni

It seems that many shoe designers are really in touch with that abstract concept of “glamour” – it’s so much a part of the emotional reaction people have to shoes.

When you work on women’s shoes, even if you’re working on a style that is unsexy or one that’s not the most traditionally beautiful [such as the “ugly shoe” phenomenon], I still believe that glamour and sexiness are important – even for combat or a men’s style shoe. This is what I work for. It may be passé, but this is what I feel and what I like.

This feature originally appeared in the April 2018 print issue of #legend  

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Kim Bui Kollar

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