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Weird and wacky footwear designs are nothing new, but a recently developed pair of front heel shoes currently making headlines might make even the boldest of fashionistas take a step back. Leanie van der Vyver, a South African student who has just graduated from Amsterdam’s prestigious Gerrit Rietveld Academie, has designed a pair of front heeled shoes named “Scary Beautiful” as her graduation project. Rene van den Berg, a Dutch shoe maker, has helped Leanie’s project make the transition from concept to reality, and the result is (unsurprisingly) both scary and beautiful.

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Balancing Act

The sky-high leather heels are designed to be worn backwards on the feet, with the shins leaning against the “heel” and the feet pointing straight down into the “toe”. As part of her project, Leanie also created a video of a model walking in the Scary Beautiful front heeled shoes, demonstrating how the footwear forces the wearer into a new way of walking and maintaining their balance. The project earned Leanie a nomination for the Gerrit Rietveld design prize. Judges praised “the way aesthetics, ergonomics and prosthesis merge into an awkward choreography”.

These front heeled shoes are much more than an outlandish fashion statement; they also represent a social commentary on the world of fashion and the effect it has on the way we see our bodies and judge standards of beauty. “This design might seem quirky and fun,” says Leanie, who originally hails from the beautiful and glamorous city of Cape Town; “but it is firstly a critique on how the fashion and beauty industry disregards the human body in its constant reinvention of the new extreme”.

Beyond Perfection

“Humans are playing God by physically and metaphorically perfecting themselves… allowing this project to explore what lies beyond perfection” says Leanie. The model wearing the Scary Beautiful front heeled shoes looks vulnerable, fragile and awkward as she tries to keep her balance, bringing to mind the discomfort so many of us regularly inflict on ourselves for the sake of beauty and style – and raising the question, where do we draw the line?

Gaga Glam

It’s highly unlikely we’ll see these impractical front heeled shoes in stores any time soon, but some of the world’s more daring celebrities might step out in them to add some drama to those red carpet moments. It’s even been rumoured that the queen of freaky fashion, Lady Gaga herself, will soon be appearing in a pair of Scary Beautiful shoes. Leanie tells press she has sent the pair to Studio Formichetti on request, and they could soon be appearing in a Gaga music video, although this has yet to be confirmed.

These front heel shoes are intriguing and certainly make a strong statement, but the general consensus seems to be that they are more scary than beautiful!

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