…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.
"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 said. "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."
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."