Cultured Magazine

Winter 2014

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What do you get when style icon and Roger Vivier ambassador Inès de La Fressange and design-world darling Ambra Medda, the face of the brand's Fall campaign, meet in the chic second-floor salle d'argent of Roger Vivier's Madison Avenue boutique? Well, first, of course, they shop for bags and shoes; but then there is plenty of discussion from fashion and craftsmanship to buckles and Bauhaus. Inès de La Fressange: Roger Vivier was obviously into fashion, having worked with Christian Dior for many years. He was the only one to have his name on the Dior label inside his shoes. And, Dior also gave him his own shop in the boutique on Avenue Montaigne. But Vivier was also very inspired by art. He studied to be a sculptor and did these fantastic collages later in his life. Ambra Medda: What an inspiration… I love the way he created such a sense of whimsy and fantasy in his shoes. Some of his early work from the 1950s is so modern that it could have been created today. As someone immersed in design all the time, I'm really drawn to the timelessness of his work. ID: His work was so sculptural and forward. When you think of the Stiletto in 1954, this was something very new. Or the Virgule in 1963, which was so incredibly innovative for its time and yet it became one of the most copied styles ever. Vivier understood that fashion is not an art; it's a handcraft—a beautiful handcraft. AM: I remember when the word "craft" was so uncool! People associated it with women wearing chunky necklaces or the things you'd see for sale in the subway. But now, craft is elastic—you can craft perfume, shoes and furniture. Now more than ever people are embracing craftsmanship. ID: It's happening in fashion, too, especially now that things can be produced in huge quantities and easily copied. Perhaps as a response to fast fashion, people are seeking out special. And, I feel, to be special, it has to be handmade. AM: Also, people really do appreciate humor and whimsy in design, at least that's what I appreciate about Vivier's designs. I've always loved the work of Giò Ponti for that reason. He was an architect and the editor of Domus, which is such an influential magazine. He could apply his creative genius to a spoon or a church—and with a sense of humor. He had fun. ID: Ponti… what a genius. He accepted to be linked to the past. Unlike the Bauhaus designers who were introducing something totally new, Ponti understood that you can't always do totally new things, you have to make an evolution in design. Fashion is like this, too. There are clothes and bags and shoes that have endured for centuries. What makes them last? AM: I think it's human nature. There's comfort in the past, but also inspiration; it's the spark of tradition. You're seeing something that's new, but it's somehow familiar. You feel it in art and food also—this inexplicable quality that strikes a chord in your memory palate. It's hard to achieve that. To have a product—a bowl of pasta, a shoe, a table—that evokes an emotion. That's the ultimate challenge in design, right? ID: Yes, I think so. Something is good when you feel like it has always existed. When I was young, my mother had a friend who was a designer and she had invented the Plexiglas cube to hold pictures. Everyone had one—tiny ones, huge ones. It was a brilliant idea because it was totally different than any other frame, yet totally obvious. It's nice when an idea is so strong that you say, "Why didn't I think of that?" AM: I agree. And it's fascinating to see the way good design affects behavior. When you're in a beautiful space, you feel better—more open, more optimistic. When you drink from a fine glass, it makes the drink taste better. When you wear a great pair of shoes or a great coat, your smile is more effortless, your posture is better and your confidence swells. 146 CULTURED What happens when two fashion muses walk into a room? We'll let Ambra Medda and Inès de La Fressange tell you the answer to that one. MODERN AMUSEMENT Inès de La Fressange (left) and Ambra Medda © BENOIT PEVERELLI (DE LA FRESSANGE); SOFIA SANCHEZ AND MAURO MONGIELLO

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