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The Scariest Shoes of All Time

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We've seen many ugly shoes in our day, but a new pair dubbed "Scary Beautiful" is definitely the most treacherous footwear we've ever seen. The massive heels appear backwards on the foot, so the wearers feet point straight down the back, as if in ballet shoes, with their shin leaning against the front "heel" end of the design to balance. The shoes are a collaboration between artist Leanie van der Vyver and Dutch shoe designer René van den Berg, and serve as a commentary on today's impossible standards of beauty. 

The ugliest shoes of all time 

Van der Vyver is South African, and recently graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. We spotted "Crazy Beautiful" on her website,, and reached out to her for the inside scoop. 

Imelda Marcos' prized shoe collection is ruined 

"After working in fashion for seven years, and therefore being well aware of the manipulation images in fashion suffer for a perfect result, I still compare myself to them and other current beauty ideals," Van der Vyver told Yahoo! Shine exclusively. "My frustration with my own inability to overcome these feelings of inadequacy was what brought 'Scary Beautiful' into fruition. The shoes formed part of my graduation project that was a result of my thesis. The conclusion of my thesis investigation was that people are not satisfied with what they look like, and that perfection, according to the beauty and fashion standards, has reached a climax. Humans are playing God by physically and metaphorically perfecting themselves. Beauty is currently at an all time climax, allowing this project to explore what lies beyond perfection. Scary Beautiful challenges current beauty ideals by inflicting an unexpected new beauty standard." 

A model wearing the Scary Beautiful shoes. Photo by Lyall Coburn
Unsurprisingly, Van der Vyver's "Scary Beautiful" shoes were nominated for a design prize at Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Jury members Barbara Visser, visual artist and Xander Karskens, and curator of De Hallen had this to say about the shoes: 

"The object created by Leanie expands the concept of a shoe into multiple new meanings. The beautifully made leather object is accompanied by a video registration of a girl wearing it. One observes the design forcing the wearer to develop a new way of walking, leaning forward while refining a painfully fragile balance. The jury applauds the way aesthetics, ergonomics and prosthesis merge into an awkward choreography. The craftsmanship and strong conceptual way of designing also show in another work, a ceramic tea set in which reference is made to a building in South Africa. Leanie succeeds in translating political consciousness into form and is considered by the jury to be a meaningful future designer."

Alexander McQueen's spring 2010 Armadillo heels. Photo by Antonio de Moraes Barros

Filho/Getty ImagesWe find the clip shocking but also oddly moving. The shoes are obviously not practical, but as art they're intriguing. We can't help but be reminded of Lady Gaga trying to steady herself in the now-famous Alexander McQueen "Armadillo" heels in her "Bad Romance" music video. Major models like Abbey Lee Kershaw, Natasha Poly, and Sasha Pivovarova reportedly refused to wear the 12-inch McQueen heels out of fear, and were cut from the designer's spring 2010 fashion show. In comparison, the "Scary Beautiful" shoes make the "Armadillo" heels look like sneakers, but we had a feeling the always-outdoing-herself Lady Gaga would give them a spin one day. Sure enough, Van der Vyver confirmed our suspicions. 

"Yes, on request I did actually send them to Studio Formichetti for a Lady Gaga music video, but I could not get confirmation whether she actually used them," Van der Vyver told us. "I did not charge for her to possibly use them. I would love to sell them to a gallery." 

We're holding out for the "Scary Beautiful" shoes to appear in an upcoming Lady Gaga music video, but until then Van der Vyver is back home in Cape Town starting her own studio where she'll continue investigating fashion and beauty. We're anticipating her next creation.

by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 6:38 PM
Replies (11-20):
by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 1:43 PM
1 mom liked this

And it takes you 3 times as long to walk somewhere looks painful and looks beyond awkward when you walk.  SMH at some people's ideas of beauty.

Quoting Sassy762:

LOL.....I made this post in a few groups yesterday....You really need the video to complete the post, lol

by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 1:49 PM

And I have to add, I like to wear heels at church sometimes.  It would lend new meaning to being a "holy roller" during praise and worship music at church....sidesplittinglaughter

CAuse I'd fall off those things and then only be able to roll to get back up.....LOL

by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 1:52 PM
1 mom liked this

And is it just me or does it make her look like the way "early man/woman" walked........LOL. If you believe in evolution, this is a step back, not a step forward, corny pun intended.

by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 4:31 PM
Can you actually stand up straight in them ?
by Bronze Member on Oct. 10, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Good Lawd! Has anyone seen the "Silent Hill" movie? She walks just like the straight-jacket creatures! All she need to do is wrap her arms behind her back!!!!

by Bronze Member on Oct. 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Sexy...  NOT!

Quoting Sassy762:

LOL.....I made this post in a few groups yesterday....You really need the video to complete the post, lol

by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 5:11 PM


by Anonymous 1 on Oct. 10, 2012 at 5:26 PM

 They look painful!

by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 7:29 PM

There's no function to those shoes.  Fashion is useless without function.

by on Oct. 10, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Those shoes are horrid. I can't imagine any sane person wearing those things.
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