The phrase ‘fit for a queen' is bandied around with little restraint these days, but as far as footwear goes, Roger Vivier’s recent creation, debuted at the 'Brilliant' exhibition in this year’s Masterpiece London art, antiques and design fair, is the real deal.
Meet ‘A Queen Forever’, a 55-carat diamond-encrusted pair of shoes created by creative director Bruno Frisoni in celebration of the Queen’s diamond jubilee. The shoes themselves are nicely cobbled into royal history, as Roger Vivier, bringer of the era-defining stiletto to the women's fashion arena in 1954, was the very person who designed the shoes Elizabeth II wore for her 1953 coronation.
Back then, the pair appeared in golden kidskin leather and embellished with a ruby-inlaid heel and upper pattern ,which echoed the fleur-de-lys motif on the St Edward and Imperial State crowns. Now Frisoni's 21st century version, hand-crafted by Roger Vivier Maison in close collaboration with The East India Company, is a towering strappy black satin number - a modern personification of the royal classic, with its startling plummage of black feathers.
The fleur-de-lys motif, very much the pièce de résistance in the whole ensemble, is made of an eye-watering constellation of 3,500 brilliant-cut flat diamonds. Remarkably, the sandal's couture construction saw each stone being individually affixed to the shoe's upper with silk threads before the whole pattern was reinforced, rather than assembled together on a separate upper, and then attached to the sole.
The brand was first invited by exhibition curator and jewellery writer Carol Woolton to take part in the innovative 'Brilliant' exhibition in March - a not altogether easy deadline of three months, given a project of this undertaking. Not surprisingly, 17 artisans over at The East India Company - itself connected to both diamonds and royalty (most famously for mining and subsequently presenting the legendary Koh-I-Noor diamond to Queen Victoria in 1877) - worked flat out to create the diamond setting of Frisoni's vision.
Says Woolton: ‘Increasingly bags and shoes are becoming the new jewels, with designs highlighted by flashes of “costume” crystal butterflies, coral rosettes or silver stars, but Bruno Frisoni has used the “couture” embellishment, the diamond, to create a glittering jewel for the foot.'