Oct. 23, 2012 at 2:02 PM ET
We’ve seen extreme shoes called art before — remember that cringe-inducing “front-heeled” pair from the “Scary Beautiful” exhibit?” But “Shoegasm,” a new coffee table book, features an entire collection of wild works of art you can wear on your feet. Not to worry: These shoes are mostly just beautiful and not all that scary (unless you suffer from vertigo).
Though extravagant shoe silhouettes have been around since Cleopatra’s time, the book's author and editor Clare Anthony says that modern materials and new technology, like light-emitting fabrics and 3-D printers, are inspiring a fresh and innovative crop of shoe designers.
“Think of a shoe as a sculpture,” Anthony, who has edited several books on fashion, told TODAY.com. “It not only has to look good but also has to be able to support the weight of the body.”
For the most imaginative designs from the book, accomplishing both tasks is quite a feat. The impossible curvature of one pair of heels and the geometrically-shaped soles of another more than hint at instability. But both are fully functioning shoes.
What does it cost to walk on art? Maybe not as much as an actual sculpture, but a lot. Several of the pairs featured will set you back upwards of $1,000 (and as much as $10,000). Perhaps that’s why they’re usually found on fashion-obsessed celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker, Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness.
Despite Anthony’s passion for looking at extreme shoes and her respect for “the women brave enough to wear them,” she enjoys them more with her eyes than on her feet.
“I must confess that I prefer walking around in comfy flats,” Anthony said.
She won't have to worry about that aversion while doing research for her next book, which will take a look at another enduring fashion-obsession — handbags.
Take a gander at more of the insanely creative shoes featured in "Shoegasm":
Italian shoemaker Alberto Guardiani makes his "Lipstick Heel," which features Swarovski crystals, in a number of colors, including purple, blue, gold and black. The lipsticks are interchangeable, so you can match your heels to your outfit.
Architect Julian Hakes created this revolutionary shoe design, which does away with shanks to support the foot's arches. In the book, Hakes says the shoe is "not artificially supporting your foot where it doesn't need support." He calls it the "Mojito" because the design is so fresh and light, like the cocktail's lime twist.
The carnation, the national flower of Spain, inspired the "Culona" heel by Manolo Blahnik. The Spanish designer said he included three satin chiffon carnations because they "make the perfect pompoms."
Jan Taminiau encrusted this curvy platform with glitter paillettes that give the shoe an armor-like look. His spring/summer 2012 collection, "Tarnished Beauty," featured many delicate, but blemished fabrics.
Marloes ten Bhömer used four pieces of carbon fiber to make his Carbonfibreshoe #1. "The unusual design, with the vertical heel on the outside of the foot, doesn't support normal weight distribution, so anyone courageous enough to wear a pair has to pay close attention to the way she sets one foot in front of the other," Anthony writes in "Shoegasm."
Anastasia Radevich's 2012 collection, Lost Civilizations, make use of both manmade and natural materials. This shoe has prehistoric touches with heels that jut out like stalactites.
Maï Lamoe's "Sentiment Profond" heel features a hand-dyed, silk rose with leather heel cups and an onyx bee with rock-crystal wings that rests on top of silk petals. Its stiletto heel is made of 18-carat gold.
From "Shoegasm: An Explosion of Cutting-Edge Design" by Clare Anthony, published by Race Point Publishing.