Roger Vivier Book Feature: Time to get Free

Originally published on Refinery29

Like the world around us, the fashion industry is also experiencing its own brand of disruption. Or maybe transformation is the better term to describe this steady falling away of everything we’ve ever known about the things we buy, wear,and want. This is coupled with the arrival of something altogether different—a brave new digitally minded world where what’s deeply personal in our lives is continually thrust into the social media spotlight.

But it’s more than that.

Fashion, at its heart, has always been a distinct reflection of the world it draws its life force from—politics, art, music, and activism have all played a fundamental part in shaping the thinking and relevance of a good garment and the unique mind-set of its maker. And that has never been truer than now. Because getting dressed is no longer just fulfilling one of our most basic human needs. Or even showing the world that your sartorial choices render you culturally relevant. Getting dressed is a chance to say something.

While fashion has often been stigmatized as a materialistic pursuit, what we’ve come to know through our daily feeds is something we’ve probably suspected all along—that fashion, and the deep, personal style it invariably invokes in each of us, is freedom. Freedom from the past, freedom from the norm, freedom from a story or identity that may have been imposed upon us long before we had the consciousness or the courage to say, “No, thank you.”

And with that freedom comes the daily power to reinvent ourselves or, at the very least, reclaim our space and sense of self in the world. The continued rise of social media as a powerful form of fashion curation and self-discovery has literally turned the act of shopping into a mixed media art form. We can thank digital platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and even Pinterest for providing us with the chance to tell a story, every moment of every day, with our words, our ideas, and our style. And so, those choices we make in doing just that have become, to enthusiasts and brands alike, more empowering than ever.

Which is why, perhaps, a pair of shoes has emerged as such a fascinating symbol of strength and individuality . . . all while the fashion industry itself is having its own personal evolution. Footwear—at least the kind that means to endure—provides the ultimate mash-up of power principles, where high function must coexist with cultural clarity and daring design. When well-conceived—and well-received—a pair of beautiful shoes isn’t just an accessory, it’s an everyday feat of art and engineering . . . times two. Because few things in our closets preserve their value the way beloved shoes can. No other garment elicits such adamant displays of loyalty (you legions of Vivier’ettes,you know who you are). Like the sturdy roots of every beautiful, uncommon breed of tree, a spectacular pair of shoes is grounding. They have the power to support and sustain, but they can also propel you forward—fast—into the great world out in front of us.

Isn’t it ironic that Cinderella’s tale of a lost shoe ultimately led to her dream of breaking out of her prison to marry a prince. The prince part may be outdated, but the desire to be independent, to own one’s destiny, to go anywhere and do anything is the ultimate power of personal style. It’s the freedom we’ve found through making our own choices, expressing ourselves with truth and beauty.

Fashion can do that . . . in many ways, it can even set us free.

Photographed by Frankie Marin