Monday, March 23, 2009

Shopaholics EXCLUSIVE ... Beguiled by VIVIER

Looks like economic downturn has really taken its toll on the retail world and I am sure that at these trying times, many (or some) fashionistas are having trying hard to keep their platinum and gold cards away from the delicious sights of Fendi, Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton or yes, the unbeatable icon of the bag world, Hermès Birkin.

But what is your reactio
n if I say that you could own a Vivier at just $89 a pop? Oh boy, there goes the unbelieving clamour. Erm, before you ladies could make your quick dash to the super posh Roger Vivier boutiques and enquire, I have to say this – it’s not by the famous Roger Vivier (fashion hell will definitely break loose if the venerated brand do that) actually, but by a California-based bag designer by the name of Clare Vivier.

Boasting bags that personify timeless appeal and high in quality instead of relying on trends and hype which always come and go, Vivier has been receiving good press lately.

In fact, its infamous Remake fold-over bank clutch (fall/winter 2009 collection) has been, of late, lauded as the bag that every recessionistas must clutch on their way to the bank by!

Recently, I managed to track down Clare and had a long-distance brief conversation (via the good ol’ email that is) on her brand and what Vivier is all about.

How Vivier started and how long it has been in the market?

It started after making myself laptop bags to travel with with. Then a couple of years a
go I started making my friends bags, at the time there weren't any chic but not stuffy, cool but not kitschy work bags for women. I still think the market is very limited.

What are the traits that sets Vivier apart from other designer bags?

I try to design bags which are classic with an edge of cool. Which I interpret to mean not going over the top - knowing where to stop with design.

Any idea on the ideal personification of a Vivier girl or woman?

So many of my smart & chic friends are my ideal, it's definitely a cosmopolitan girl who travels and is smart but also really into fashion - in a intelligent way - not a label whore kinda way. And I love Parisian girls like Charlotte Gainsbourg, that's my ideal VIVIER girl.

Where do you get your ideas from?

My ideas are generated definitely by the world around me, but they're also dictated by function and often I'm inspired by materials I want to work with.

Many designers tend to do the production in Italy or even China. What about yours?

This is very important to me - my bags are made in LA and I want to keep it that way. I love the idea of not having a large carbon footprint for the environment. And they are made at a sewing shop which pays the employees a living wage and where I can go and work on designs, cuts, and details with them from start to finish - so there're no surprises when I get the end product.

What are the materials you love working with?

I love working with remnant leathers - which I can only get in small supply but that makes each piece individual and very special. I also love working with cotton canvases - I love the natural fiber and the industrial side of it. And, recently I've been making bags out of deadstock canvases from the 70s and 80s, mostly prints. I love that there's a history to it.

Do you believe in the term "it bag" and being a bag maker,do you think it is important to have any of your bags being christened as an "it bag"?

No, I don't partake in the "it bag" game. I've never owned one nor have I ever had the desire. I can certainly appreciate a YSL or Chloe bag for certain aspects of their designs and craftsmanship, or a Goyard - again fo
r the history [of the company], but I would never buy one because I would find it embarrassing to be that predictable. Now, whether or not I'd like to have a VIVIER bag an "It bag"? In the way that that translates into sales, by all means, yes! But it is not more important than knowing I'm making bags people I respect want to buy.

How often do people get confused between your brand and Roger Vivier's?

I have never had any confusion with Roger Vivier. My brand name is taken from my husband's family name and I liked the way it sounds. I think the two lines are very different in design and concept.

Have you seen any celebrities carrying your bags in the magazines or the tabloids lately?

Not in tabloids, but I do have celebrities carrying them.

Last but not least, what's next for Vivier? A world domination, perhaps?

Next for VIVIER is just the next step in having a successful company! It's a pretty new company in the sense that I've just had my first public showing (at the Taylor De Cordoba gallery - see my blog for an account of the evening: and I just got my first rep and showroom a few months ago (before that it was just me selling the bags on my website.) She's [my rep] opening new accounts, but we're being very selective as to what stores we're going into. They're selling really well in three of the chicest stores here in LA and I'd love to be in the equivalent of them all over the world!

The Vivier spring/summer 2009 collection is available now via Vivier online store as well as selected retailers in the US. Please take note that Vivier’s Remake fold-over clutch is limited edition and orders must be made according to colour groups displayed on the website.

*Photos courtesy of Vivier.

Vivier – Fred Segal Flair, 500 Broadway, Santa Monica CA 90401; Mohawk General Store, 1101 Mohawk Street, Los Angeles CA 90026; Confederacy, 4661 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90027.

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