Over the last few years, super-high platform heels have jumped the divide to become mainstream fashion accessories. Formerly relegated to the likes of dominatrixes and strippers, it’s now de rigeur for a ladylike fashionista to tread the red carpet in heels as high as six or seven inches. Thanks to this new trend, we’ve seen so many models tumbling on high fashion runways, that we have to wonder if it isn’t done on purpose for publicity. The late Alexander McQueen’s 10-inch armadillo heels used to be the last word in precarious footwear, until now: Romanian designer Mihai Albu has created the 12-inch stiletto.
Known as "the shoe architect," Albu creates shoes that owe as much to engineering as to fashion – and in fact, he was an architect before he turned to designing shoes. In his bio he says that it was his love of "object design" that started him on this career path. After college, he started his own company in 1989, specializing in limited edition shoes, handbags, and leather goods. He became so successful that he opened a freestanding boutique. His work has even been featured in Harper’s Bazaar Romania.
Albu specializes in artistic tricks to attain height. Sandals have 3 soles stacked one atop the other. A shoe might need two platforms stacked atop each other with a ball attached to the top of the heel. In one shoe, an additional heel juts out of the arch of the shoe – much like Marc Jacob’s whimsical creations of a few years ago – and acts as a brace for the thin stiletto heel. With all the embellishments, you don’t know whether to wear them or put them on a well-lit pedestal.
The designer has said in interviews that "heels have an advantage because (many women) don’t have long legs. The heels reposition the waist. If a woman is 5 foot 9 (175 centimeters), she’d be towering above everyone if she wore these. I am creating a constructed chaos." He says that his shoes have a strong following, and that he’s already received many orders from well-off Romanians looking for the next big thing. The 1,200 euro ($1,525 USD) price tag is no obstacle to those looking to achieve the highest heights of fashion.
Personally, I see these going the way of the Wonderbra, with men complaining that the 6 foot 4 supermodel they thought they met at a party later turned out to be only 5 foot 4.
You can view Mihai Albu’s latest creations at www.mihaialbu.ro