Front Heeled Shoes: The Craziest Footwear Ever?


It is not exactly a secret that many women’s high-end shoes are hard to navigate in. As many ladies have discovered, having a few drinks on a night out whilst sporting a vertiginously high pair of heels can making walking impossible.

Christian Louboutin himself has often said that a woman’s comfort is the least of his worries when designing his heels and this credos seems to have been accepted by many designers who make walking upright in a pair of shoes incredibly difficult. None more so, however, than the latest pair of shoes that which has been grabbing the headlines due to the fact the footwear’s raison d’etre is to make sure the wearer cannot walk in a usual fashion.The shoes, which are likely to cause wearer’s even more pain than the average squashed toe or overburdened calf muscle, have been named as “front heels” due to the unusual aesthetics of the footwear which closely resemble contraptions.

The footwear, a collaboration between Dutch shoe designer Rene van den Berg and South African art student Leanie van der Vyver, feature a shoe which hold the women’s feet straight down as if performing a ballet pirouette. As the foot is kept at a 90 degree angle, an additional “heel” has been attached mid-may up the wearer’s shin to provide an additional point of support. The v-shaped areas of balance means that now, as well as having the foot positioned at a 90 degree downwards ankle, the rest of the legs lean forward at an opposing 45 degree angle making walking upright practically impossible.

Whilst the design will allow its wearer even more height than any other women’s shoe on the market it would also be the most painful if it were to ever find a mass market. Thankfully it would seem the designers of the shoe know that this style is not something that is likely to find a home in the high street and is actually something of a satirical piece of art.  The design of the shoe was done as part of a thesis by van der Vyver whilst at the Dutch Gerrit Rietveld Acadamie. “Scary Beautiful”, as the shoes were labelled, form part of a project with the stated hypothesis that the design would challenge current ideals by “inflicting an unexpected new beauty standard”. Van der Vyver went on to state that: “Humans are playing God by physically and metaphorically perfecting themselves…. With this project I explore what lies beyond perfection”.

That these shoes represent a work of an academic parody is something of a relief as it is not inconceivable that, had van der Vyver not got there first, they would have been another designer who would have launched the shoes with a more serious intent. As many shoe designers seem to begin to imagine that their remit is not to create comfortable footwear for women but rather they believe they are creating art, shoe designs have become less and less easy for women to wear and increasingly ludicrous.

Victoria Beckham, who it has been reported needed surgery for bunions from wearing too many painful shoes, has often sported heel-less boots, heel-less shoes have become something of a trend and, with the recent display of furry heels at Paris Fashion Week it would appear that some designers assume that women will wear anything presented to them.

Kieron Casey is a fashion writer who has provided this article on behalf of the Barratts Shoes – a retailer with a much more wearer-friendly approach to footwear!

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