leanie van der vyver: scary beautiful
leanie van der vyver: scary beautiful
mar 18, 2012

leanie van der vyver: scary beautiful

‘scary beautiful’ by leanie van der vyver + rené van den berg



cape town-based designer leanie van der vyver has collaborated with dutch designer and shoe fabricator rené van den berg to execute ‘scary beautiful’, a pair of shoes for women which reverses the expected location of the heels and insole. she presented the absurdfootwear, the conclusion to her graduation work at the gerrit rietveld academie in amsterdam, at the 2013 design indaba conference where she was a speaker. the provocative concept was developed by van der vyer as a commentary on the current fashion industry standards, in which she created a pair of high heels which sees aesthetics, ergonomics and prosthesis merge into an awkward choreographic performance.



leanie van der vyver: scary beautiful shoes place the high heel in front of the user



the user must pointe their foot to insert into the shoe’s modified vamp which is inclined forward and tapers down to the toebox. the foot rests upon a platformed toebox and is stabilized within the glove-like shoe with a brace which wraps the ankle and is secured with buckles. spreading up the front of the shin, an angled heel projects from a tract of suede to support the individual. these ‘high-toed’ pumps instead position the leather sole to cover the arch of the foot.


leanie van der vyver: scary beautiful (left) standing upright, with knees remaining slightly bent (right) sitting cross-legged



‘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.’ -leanie van der vyver



video demonstrates a woman walking with the shoes on


leanie van der vyver on her ‘scary beautiful’ shoes
video courtesy of design indaba




leanie van der vyver: scary beautiful

design indaba conference 2013leanie van der vyer has been one of the speakers at the 3-day design conference in cape town, south africa. the design indaba conference, which took place at the cape town international convention centre from february 27 to march 1, featured forty protagonists from the architecture, art and design world.

  • she looks like dragging herself to the bathroom…..

    Ipnorospo says:
  • Or like she’s wrapping up in the bathroom.

    Iwentthere says:
  • Bodily issues aside, the notion of reworking fashion pieces to change the movement of its wearer is thought provoking.

    Silvia says:
  • like they did with chastity belts or foot binding?

    cph says:
  • Dear Designboom, I, René van den Berg, did NOT design these shoes. They were designed as graduationwork by Leanie van der Vyver. I suggest a rectification is the least you can do.

    René van den Berg says:
  • In addition to my previous comment, I did help Leanie to create the shoes and make them wearable.

    René van den Berg says:
  • @Rene van den Berg
    Please define “wearable.”

    Adam says:
  • Scary hideous… There is no design merit to those at all. The woman in the video looks like she’s being tortured.

    Verso says:
  • These shoes are ridiculous and dangerous!!! Walking in these shoes completely changes your natural balance. Talk about damage to the back and calves!!!

    CB55 says:
  • Nice chick, that’s all =D

    Q says:
  • walkin like a zombie is after all the latest fashion craze

    amanda says:
  • These days, Fashion NEVER equals functionality. This is just like all those runway shows of people in peacock feathers and huge spikes or whatever. No one is ever actually going to wear something like this, its completely for show and nothing more

    = says:
  • Fashion victim..

    New heel says:
  • who ever needs to raise a partner that high in real life, should have fantasized for fashion instead
    she wears them for work obviuosly

    PJNLJ says:
  • she wears them to work

    SXIMB says:
  • The shoes as objects themselves are absolutely fantastic. Interesting to look at, captivating to figure out how the support would work and feel. As a retired ballerina and pointe dancer, these could be such an unusual sensation since you are positioned so far forward while wearing these pumps.

    Toecrackers says:
  • What is the purpose of shoes like these?? She can’t even walk gracefully in them, she is crunched over? The only appeal they would have would be to a person who likes to see a woman in pain and incapeable of escape!

    Chris says:
  • I think these shoes are meant to be more like a piece of visual and performance art, rather than shoes, per se. As I read through the comments, I think there are a lot of compelling thoughts and ideas about womens’ fashion and what it often does to women, including the negative effects. Even the way she walks looks particularly (overly) pained… I imagine she could probably walk a bit more gracefully. Perhaps the slowness is an added effect?

    Emerson says:
  • I find it very scary and painful to see the torture on her… its absolute madness!

    incognito says:
  • With these shoes she’s the perfect match to Torgo from Mano: The Hands of Fate.

    Marcus Metropolis says:
  • My back hurt watching this video. I hope that poor model at least got her chiropractor bill paid for!

    Kali says:
  • does anyone possibly know this model’s name? she is gorgeous.

    joe says:
  • she looks like a pterodactyl baby.

    Vivianna says:
  • oh my damn she’s hot. FAP FAP FAP

    john says:
  • CB55 writes, \”These shoes are ridiculous and dangerous!!! Walking in these shoes completely changes your natural balance.\”

    Good lord. And \”standard\” high heels don\’t? In fact the forced gait change is precisely why they\’re worn.

    If you do not understand thing A, chiming in on a discussion about thing B, which is /itself/ a statement about thing A, is a Bad Idea.

    bodhisoma says:
  • I think those shoes are made for doggy style!

    just me says:
  • looks so beautiful

    medusa says:
  • The level of some comments here is just very sad.
    Aside from that, the shoes are thought provoking, and IMHO an excellent exemple of so-called “critical design” applied to fashion.

    Davy says:
  • yep)))time is running… so Where r we rushing?

    crows says:
  • This poor, formerly healthy woman has been turned into a cripple that can now barely walk.
    Notice how natural and at ease she appears to be in the first frames prior to putting on these \’shoes\’.
    Perhaps adding a blindfold may further add to her suffering.
    The por, poor girl!

    Mik Dee says:
  • reminds me of your ballet pointe shoes!!!

    ytak says:
  • I guess model paid for what? torture?
    Any she is much much beautiful then shoes.
    whats her name any more images of her in normal

    Nicky says:
  • Anybody in this string ever hear of Matthew Barney? This is pure performance, people!

    Mort d'Urban says:
  • (: theres nothing new about it and can try a job opportunity at cirque du soLame

    .emalosho says:
  • stop hating people, they’re obviously an art piece, and i think they’re amazing! you cannot compare these to foot binding. I’m sure this model had a choice to wear these. You’re talking like she was forced into it!

    Lindsey Henderson says:
  • Nice art piece I see it as point made humourously on torture instruments made for women in the name of fashion

    lululabonne says:
  • I want the dress.

    alma says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

design news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
503,281 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine