It all started with mythical tales of 70s disco glamazons who danced with platforms that doubled as aquariums. Who hasn't wondered, at one time or another, if it isn't possible to hack your way into a pair of see-through heels? Oh the possibilities, the things you could literally walk on! It's one of those situations, you know, where you're only limited by your imagination… and sense of dignity, but you can only maintain that for so long anyway, so may as well live large.
Curiosity got the best of me, and what started out as my tearing apart those lucite monster wedges that you know I loved to death in all their tack-tasticness, lead to 3234023945234 hours of research and birthed this obsessive experiment in making a luxe-ified stripper heel without having (yet) acquired a last, or at the time, knowledge of shoe construction. Learning experience. You know how people pimp out their old bomb cars? Well, my dear mother took one look at these and declared that that's precisely what was going on here. Is this the (IN)DECOROUS TASTE version of "Pimp My Ride"? I think I'd prefer a "Pimp My Shoe." Are you listening, MTV?
The shoe, pre-butchering. It's got a pretty cool lucite wedge but, as people tend to note, it undeniably communicates "stripper." Which is fine, but no fault of the wedge. What about the wedge? It's destined for bigger and better things. It needed to detach (from the plastic upper bringing it down) and fill that gaping (lucite) void…
Here it is in the process of stripping it down and cleaning it up. This involved lots of prying, slicing, ripping, and sanding the surfaces so that they were free of glue. At right, it's startling clean: a blank canvas, except better, because it's part of a SHOE.
I filled the inner with what I designed to be a kind of internal metallic spine. I made this with vachetta leather, spikes and crystal (what, did you think (I)D's first pair of shoes would be without crystal??), and attached it to the underside of the platform upper. You can see, I also made a leather sole for the shoe.
Why a spine? The inspiration came from the fleshy appearance of the veggie tanned vachetta…and I ran with it. Anyway, I lined the inside bottom of the wedge with a reflective, metallic surface so that at certain angles, the toothy spikes are reflected. At times, it has the bizarre effect of making the platform look "deeper" than it in fact is.
And then (and this is one hell of a massive simplification) I created a pattern for the uppers, cut them from vachetta which I glazed white, finished off the edges, etc, and then wet formed them on my foot. One of the things that's so great about vegetable tanned leather is its malleability. Ordinarily, the upper of a shoe would be formed over a last, but for various reasons, these had to be made without one. I took advantage of this and worked the leather into every crevice, bone, and callus on my foot! Hahaaaa gross?! But they're like a second skin!! For my foot, at least.
Since the upper needs to be attached to something, and that something needed to replace the subpar layer of foam/faux suede insole that these came with, I was left making my own insole. Again, ordinarily you'd form this on a last, but instead, I wet formed a piece of vachetta cut to fit the insole on the actual shoe. It's plastic, after all, and comes pre-molded. After it dried, I used gel inserts and leather to build it up in the appropriate places (I live in heels, so I better well know where they need the extra padding!) I encased the entire thing in leather, and then, as you can see, I attached the dried, molded uppers by way of laces, lots of glue (pretty sure I'm significantly down in brain cells at this point) and did what it took to make the bottoms smooth (cutting out a leather filler, filing it down, etc etc etc etc) and ready for more gluing.
A peek at my work space. It started to look like a landfill at one point! But with perhaps more chandeliers than you'd ever encounter in a landfill. Here you can see the shoe has come together. The internal "spine" has been attached along with the reflective surface covering the bottom inside of the platform, the uppers are fixed to the insole and attached to the platform, and the leather sole is on the wedge.
Did I stop there? HA, don't be silly. Of course not. I applied a thin band of color right by the toes. (It's more flattering that way, since the color doesn't chop up the line of the leg.) Might as well get some mileage out of the 6 inch wedge.
But sometimes more is more. These shoes have a little secret....
Yeah, that's right, they glow under black light! So in case, you ... end up at a rave (what) or in a tanning booth, you're covered. I have this vision of being entirely invisible except for a thin band of neon...oh, and glowing toenails . Forgot about those.
What is this, (IN)DECOROUS TASTE on acid? I had forgotten the simple joys of UV lightbulbs. Now seriously, go paint yourself neon and... host a rave or something. It's summer!