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Milestones Measured in Millimeters

“This is a milestone. After tonight, I’m going to begin a new beginning,” said Giambattista Valli at his book signing on Monday night. Hefty 400-page tome in tow, well-wishers including Angie Harmon, Clotilde Courau, and Bianca Brandolini d’Adda lined up at the Jeu de Paume, where the designer’s photographs and recent film about Rome were also on display. This first book, Valli noted, is meant to be the opposite of self-celebration. “I wanted to do something more detached, but intimate. It’s almost like getting naked about my private life,” he said. The first chapter, Obsessions, for example, is about building a style (Lee Radziwill, who also contributed text, and Jackie O lead the way).

Olivier Saillard is clearly on a roll. For the exhibition Virgule, Etc.: In the Footsteps of Roger Vivier, which opened last night at the Palais de Tokyo—and is also available as an iPhone app—the star curator delivered an exercise in free association, mixing 170 vintage and contemporary Vivier creations in displays with tongue-in-cheek names. Take, for example, a seventies-era silver shoe labeled “A fragment of a statue of Cleopatra in porous schist” in the “Department of Egyptian Antiquities”; other display cases were called “Pop Op Art” and “The Gallery of Grandiloquent Footwear.”

“I’ve been at Vivier for twelve years and I’m surprised,” said hostess Ines de la Fressange in between greeting guests including Leigh Lezark, Alber Elbaz, and Mario Testino. “Now I finally have proof that beauty, creativity, and eccentricity can all go together. They’re timeless. People are always talking about ‘modern,’ but that’s boring. Beauty means something. So does talent. Modern is bullshit!”

“The shoes are like jewelry, or maybe patisseries,” remarked Didier Ludot, who lent many items for this show. The vintage guru recalled the moment he began collecting Viviers, more than thirty years ago: “One day a wealthy client sent her chauffeur to me with maybe fifty pairs,” he reminisced. “She just gave them to me because she knew of me. I never did figure out who she was.” Neither does Ludot know how many Viviers he owns now—he quit counting. But in any case, they’re not for sale.


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