These heels might actually kill you.


Via Huffington Post
I’m not a big follower of fashion, or a wearer of high heels, but these shoes are out of control. Apparently they are, unsurprisingly, the invention of the male designer, Alexander McQueen.

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  • Cicada Nymph

    There are a lot of different takes on McQueen. Since you have an informed perspective I am sure you remember the Highland Rape show and the show that had his models appear to be dead animals. If he happens to be a misogynist (and knows that he is) he is hardly going to claim to be one. (His excuse that he can’t be one because many of his models are lesbians is a ridiculous one though). I don’t know if he is or not, or if his shows are designed simply to shock or to be critiques of the fashion industry or are reflective of misogyny so I’m reserving judgement on that front but I hardly see how shoes like this which though not designed to be worn by the every day woman may result in a trickle down trend adapted for stores of slightly higher/less comfortable/more impractical shoes being marketed is a good thing for women.

  • Cicada Nymph

    There are a lot of different takes on McQueen. Since you have an informed perspective I am sure you remember the Highland Rape show and the show that had his models appear to be dead animals. If he happens to be a misogynist (and knows that he is) he is hardly going to claim to be one. (His excuse that he can’t be one because many of his models are lesbians is a ridiculous one though). I don’t know if he is or not, or if his shows are designed simply to shock or to be critiques of the fashion industry or are reflective of misogyny so I’m reserving judgement on that front but I hardly see how shoes like this which though not designed to be worn by the every day woman may result in a trickle down trend adapted for stores of slightly higher/less comfortable/more impractical shoes being marketed is a good thing for women unless it is because it gets people talking about sexism and fashion.

  • Cicada Nymph

    Sorry, the second post is the one I meant to post

  • Tara K.

    I get what you’re saying about critiquing and context…
    But you’ve said that they are both oppressive & feminist? Eh?

  • LalaReina

    I love heels but those (to me) are damn ugly.

  • Suzann

    Fashion professional here.
    1) You are correct that these are uncomfortable, and require considerable skill/training to wear without risk on the runway.
    2) Many professional models have that skill, including substantial ballet training. (One of the reasons that the job pays so well, despite the cultural assumption that models are brainless exploited starvlings.) I strongly suspect that the model wearing these shoes was selected in part based on her dance training.
    3) Without seeing these particular shoes, but having seen many similar ‘art’ creations? I suspect the toes is semi-flexed to about 30 degrees off vertical and supported on a corked wedge. Also that the models toes are taped and wrapped. (Pretty standard to prevent slippage.)
    4) That is ‘workable’ only because these are not ‘market’ shoes but only ‘runway’ shoes. The model is being paid to wear them – not the other way around. (And probably paid quite a lot, because as I said this would be a very skilled task even within the modeling profession.)
    5) The designer ( and company) do this exactly because it will attract critical attention. (Good or otherwise – all comment is comment.)
    6) Runway shows are a form of theatre. The misogyny – or lack thereof – is impossible to determine from a singular element. One would have to see the other clothes, the set, the music, and most of all the progression (aka the ‘story’ of the show.) This could be theme, anti-theme, or just something someone thought looked sparkley. Again, you need the entire work to know. (Or at least I do.)

  • morning-radio

    A heel the size of a pencil eraser and constantly being on pointe? Yeah, it’s not an exaggeration to say these shoes might kill you.
    Even trained ballerinas don’t stay on pointe all day, and they aren’t navigating stairs and uneven pavement.

  • Emily H.

    The wearer isn’t on pointe. If you look at the shoes, you can see she has room to hold her foot in the classic high heel position.

  • syndella

    You know, I’m just perplexed by all the, rather classist, IMO, mockery of certain dialects I see on this website.

  • Emily H.

    It’s a bit ridiculous to complain, jokingly or not, that the shoes are “out of control,” since clearly they are meant to be over the top. Such a comment makes it seem like you’re missing the wit and self-aware outrageousness involved in making such a thing. These shoes aren’t intended for the consumer, they’re an accessory for models to wear in a theatrical runway show, just like their absurd hairstyles (you can see pics from the show here: http://www.coutorture.com/5483910). I will personally eat my hat if anyone can find these shoes for sale in any store.
    If it’s not legitimate for McQueen to create an outrageous shoe to complete the aesthetic he had in mind, is it *ever* legitimate for a designer to create an over-the-top look? Are we saying that fashion isn’t serious enough to be “real” art, and must always limit itself to the practical/wearable? Runway shows like this aren’t so different from theater or performance art (and those shoes aren’t so different from wearable sculpture). Historically, fashion hasn’t been taken seriously as art because it’s been seen as the province of women and gay men — supposedly more frivolous and less high-minded groups of people. I think it’s a good idea to reverse that assumption.
    Of course something isn’t immune to criticism just because it’s “art”; art is among the most interesting subjects for critique. But you can’t analyze something if you don’t bother to look at the entire piece or learn about the artist.
    Lena Catherine Thorne wrote above that “much art is, itself, a critique of sorts.” I think that’s exactly right. These shoes (& the rest of the show) are an exercise in taking the “natural” contours of the body and turning it into something extremely stylized. That’s fascinating, because that’s what fashion does to us every day, on a lesser scale – turns the body into shapes and silhouettes that signify within a cultural context.

  • Brittany

    That’s true. I didn’t think about the mocking dialect until after I post it, so my apologies.
    I come from the south, so I deal with enough people mocking my accent. :)

  • jellyleelips

    Well, yeah. Some women feel like they HAVE to wear high heels, makeup, do their hair, whatever, to be acceptable, and it’s really a pseudo-choice. For example, some workplaces, like law firms or corporate offices, have a specific “look” that women have to follow. And, there’s the overall pressure from peers (male and female) to shave, wear certain clothes, whatever. This pressure, or the social punishments that can result from refusing to conform to acceptable beauty rituals, can keep women stuck performing behaviors they’d rather not.
    That said, it is a feminist act to say “fuck you” to this pressure. It is a feminist act to throw out the high heels but keep the nail polish, or vice versa. It is feminist to look how you want, period, without worrying about social pressures. Women may pay a price for not looking a certain way, and it’s feminist to resist this pressure. So yes, to use the example in this post, wearing heels is oppressive to women who get crap for not wearing them, or men who get crap for wearing them, or to women who are in constant pain but feel they have to wear them. But appropriated as part of a person’s personal style, heels are feminist. That’s as best as I can explain it. I mean, some people just don’t realize that they don’t HAVE to shave, or wear makeup, or dye their hair, or whatever.
    To use an example from my own life, I didn’t realize for the longest time that I could cut off all my hair and not have people confuse me for a lesbian or a skinny boy. Now, this has two layers of oppression built into it. First, there’s the concern that I won’t look good with short hair, because the conventionally attractive picture of a woman in the media has long, flowing, smooth hair. Second, there’s the idea that it’s bad for a woman to look like a lesbian or a skinny boy in the first place. We need to get to a point where super short hair for women is just another look, not a signifier of her sexual orientation or gender identity. And, where being confused for a lesbian or a skinny boy isn’t some devastating identity-shattering event.

  • jellyleelips

    Rebekah’s comment above is a great example of what I mean. For her, heels help her fix her pain and (I presume) feel more confident and walk more easily. For her friends, they feel they have to succumb to pressure to wear them when they’d rather not.

  • Femgineer

    I agree. It looks like the construction of the shoe is just a really high platform heel like http://www.myshoes.us/images/sky-platform.jpg but with extra padding to make it look more fashionable.
    Also, the other shoes of his design are a high platform shoe. See picture 10 of the fashion week pictures http://www.coutorture.com/5483910?page=0,0,9
    My conclusion is that these aren’t any more dangerous than any other platform high heel. But that’s not saying much. (In other words, they aren’t en pointe)

  • Laura_M

    All I can say is that anyone who designs shoes like that should have to actually wear them for at least a day. Yes, I know that they’re meant more as a form of art than real practical footwear, but as long as shoes like that end up on the runway, there’ll be at least one woman who actually has to wear them to show them off. :p

  • calyx

    Fashion is about desire and glamour. The actual clothing is secondary. McQueen and all those male designers who like to shock have a particular thing about dressing women in completely impractical or humiliating wear with very little to no hint of irony. Often their aim is to bring “forbidden” fetish imagery into haute couture. (Tres choquant!!!) These shoes are a good example.
    This is how I read it. They’re a clear reference to the fetish world’s ballet shoes that hobble the feminine, but with the subtle tone and sequins are redone in a “sophisticated glamour” way to make the fetish more “acceptable” and “subversive” in the mainstream. It is almost impossible to walk on ballet shoes. They are a type of bondage and humiliation and pain. Sub men (esp. straight men being “forcibly feminised”) are sometimes put into them too. They’re more about being on your back. I think they can be damn sexy in that submissive context.
    Whether you can actually walk in these derivatives? Doesn’t matter. The point is that you’re supposed to look as if it hurts, and > heel height, > femininity. Ideals. Desire.
    I am rather creeped out by the subtle (and so very olllld) conflation of bondage/humiliation with femininity in haute couture though, where these connections are as not explicit as they are in BDSM culture, and hence more open to abuse. So McQueen isn’t being as “subversive” as he clearly thinks he is. Grr. Yawn.
    One more thing: female designers? Are far more likely to put pockets in the things they design.
    PS: I’m getting a screenful of perl script errors when trying unsuccessfully to sign in with OpenID or LJ.