Fact: fashion designers have been creating crazy shoes and doing weird and painful things to feet since a Neanderthal realized footwear distinguished us from the rest of the pack. So that’s revisionist history, but high heels have always been in. Heels elevate stature and add sophistication to any outfit. Plus, the ability to walk in a crazy heel ups the wearer’s all-around badassery and sex appeal. After all, when it comes to shoes, fashion designers excel at putting spectacle and shock above comfort. Sometimes the shoes that models strut down the runway in are so fantastical that they’re more art form than footwear. Let’s take a look at some fashion designers who have boggled our minds, and made our feet wince, with their totally crazy yet rad shoe designs.
For starters, I need to mention Chinese designer Guo Pei and how beautiful her designs are. Maybe you’re a fan of the absurdist comedy show The Kids in the Hall, and you know that sketch about a designer who makes a clothing line for ugly women. Well, Guo Pei’s creations are on the other end of the spectrum; they were made for, like, fairy princesses who ride unicorns to work.
Pei is mostly known for her lavish and extravagant dresses, but the Fashion Week debut of her Fall/Winter 2010 collection also featured elaborate block wedge heels. The shoes stood out with glittery beadwork mounted on ridiculously high wooden wedges with daring circle cutouts.
These art pieces would work perfectly in an editorial, or for occasion wear. Wouldn’t you wear them to your wedding? I know I would. That price tag looks to be a killer, so you’d have to skip out on a wedding dress and caterers, and probably not buy groceries for the next 10 years. I’m okay with that.
Next up, the Alexander McQueen 10-inch armadillo heel. These empowerment babes (or death traps, however you choose to look at them) first reared their heels on the runway showcasing McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2010 collection. The shoes resemble lobster claws with a chunky, block-like sole that narrows down to a teeny-tiny heel. Some appeared in decadent designs like snakeskin while others were patterned with sequins, like a bizarre and dangerous sea creature. Throwing professionalism to the winds in favor of healthy gambs, some models even quit the McQueen show over these heel-icious creations. Fair enough, ladies.
I’ve talked a lot about heels, so let’s pay homage to the heelless shoe. The heelless shoe hyped recently with designers like Christian Louboutin owes its origin to André Perugia. Perugia was a French designer in the 1910’s who debuted a red ballet flat with a wedge sole that rises to a steep angle, forcing all the weight to the toes (last image below).The heel-less shoe was not Perugia’s sole effort, pun very intended. He also created shoes inspired by Picasso and focused on unique and eye-catching designs, like a shoe modelled after a fish. You’re looking so modern, Perugia, and we’re digging it.
If you thought heelless shoes were crazy, how about soleless shoes? Aminaka Wilmont and Eelko Moorer are both designers who have had models tip-toe down the catwalk on bizarre futuristic-looking shoes that wrap around the calf and end abruptly in a short heel with no sole. And for footwear that’s truly outlandish, peep Iris Schieferstein’s taxidermy shoes that incorporate real animal parts, such as horse shoes. Who would actually wear all of these ridiculous shoe designs? Well, Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness have been seen in many of these outrageous shoes – and haven’t tripped once. More power to them. Scratch what I said before, I think I’m fine just appreciating these shoes as works of art.