Leanie van der Vyver on testing the line between sexy and grotesque

What lies beyond the projection of perfection? How far can we push notions of beauty, before it becomes grotesque? Leanie van der Vyver asks these questions.

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Leanie van der Vyver’s Scary Beautiful shoes took the world by storm in 2012, raising questions about accepted norms around beauty and perfection. 

In a Pecha Kucha-style presentation at Design Indaba Conference 2013 she spoke about the thinking behind this project. 

A graduate of the Design Lab at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, Van der Vyver believes that fashion is quite static and that we haven’t really applied it to enhance the performance of the body.

With her Scary Beautiful shoe concept, Van der Vyver took the high heel, as a fashion accessory, and pushed it over the edge as part of an idea that sought to critically transcend fashion. By testing how far the high heel can be pushed, while still allowing for a level of mobility, Van der Vyver tested the line between sexy and grotesque. Scary Beautiful critiques current beauty standards and norms, but also asks questions about what lies beyond the projection of perfection.

Interestingly, with Scary Beautiful Van der Vyver discovered that pushing the limits of the traditional high heel exposed new bodily areas that can be adorned.

Ultimately, Van der Vyver is interested in the ways that perfection transcends fashion – not by adding extra functionality, but by adding context.

Van der Vyver also shared an earlier project that looked at creating a fashion collection based on gangsters. She found that the swagger is the most characteristic feature of the gangster sub-culture and thus responded with a shoe that enforces the gangster swagger on whoever wears it. 

Watch the Interview with Leanie van der Vyver