Sky-High “Front Heels” Teeter on the Edge of Fashion

The "Scary Beautiful" shoes look more torturous than fabulous when worn

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Lyall Coburn / Courtesy of Leanie van der Vyver

It was going to take something truly otherworldly to top the ridiculous footwear that runway models pranced in during Fashion Month. Prada debuted minimalist leather-and-ribbon foot gloves, while Céline preempted Mitt Romney with a pair of Big Bird-like heels and also went meta with a new style of foot shoe. After all of that, the only way for designers to go was up. And so they did.

Behold “front heels,” clothespin-looking shoes that are probably equally as enjoyable (read: painful) to wear. A creation by artist Leanie van der Vyver and Dutch designer René van den Berg, the “Scary Beautiful” shoes require the wearer to bend the knees forward and walk rather ungracefully, like a foal or Forrest Gump before he ran off his leg braces.

(PHOTOS: The 15 Most Ridiculous Trends from Fashion Month)

Photographer and videographer Lyall Coburn indicated that awkward aesthetics of the heels serve as a commentary on the limits and definitions of beauty on her Vimeo page.

“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,” she wrote. “Scary Beautiful challenges current beauty ideals by inflicting an unexpected new beauty standard.”

The shoes display both the ultimate ideal of beauty and the extreme means one must take to get there. If a woman looks sexiest in a towering stiletto, then theoretically higher should be better. But these heels are towering, and the only way to wear them is to essentially turn the entire shoe backwards. In the same way that a “perfect” face is achieved through invasive plastic surgery or a beautiful ballet dance is enhanced by toe-crushing en-pointe shoes, the “Scary Beautiful” heels pointedly (no pun intended) skewer modern beauty conceptions.

The front heels evoke the look of the Alexander McQueen “armadillo” heels seen on provocative fashionistas like Daphne Guinness and Lady Gaga. These are likely more of an high-concept idea than a marketable design, but should they become available, Gaga will likely be game to take a hobble.

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