IT'S A FINE LINE BETWEEN PLEASURE & PAIN

If we’re honest we won’t even pretend that our love of high heels is unconditional. At the end of a long night when we’re bruised and bleeding, we’ll toss them to the curb, curse them, and swear we’ll never fall for their charms again. And yet, we do. Soon the scars fade and before we know it, we’re repeating the same mistakes, all thanks to the seductive charms of the perfect heel. It’s this intimate, yet curious relationship that furniture designer Omar Angel Perez explores in his fantastical footwear creations.

For over 20 years, Perez has been a furniture designer/builder, always on the hunt for new ways to be creative with materials he’s had on hand—he never expected to find fame in footwear.

“My venture into shoe design began as a joke,” he explains. “My close friends know how much I appreciate women in high heels, so as an offer of gratitude, I designed my first single shoe sculpture to express my thoughts of what I think a woman goes through to wear them. My first piece was entitled, “My Shoes Are Killing Me,” and the outrageous height, elegant materials and band saw blades for straps all describe my vision of the sadistic torture a fashion forward stiletto wearer must experience.”

Employing a “Frankenstein” approach to footwear design, Perez likes to use materials that “have no business being in footwear design.” Tripe bike chain, band saw blades, metal watch straps or pun metal bowls are all items you’ll find in his creations.

“I love juxtapositions of unlikely materials which, when paired together, create a visual friction yet always manifests into a cohesive, wearable sculpture. I especially enjoy working with metal which although is rigid and unforgiving, can be shaped, polished and softened to create a modern silhouette.”

These striking sculptures quickly found an audience landing in publications and exhibits around the world. It was here that photographers started asking, ‘Do you make pairs?’

“Even with years of experience designing furniture, while creating my first wearable pair I discovered that the ergonomics, engineering and fit of a high heel was far more difficult to master than any table, chair or cabinet I’ve ever built,” he says. “I also found that supporting a model on roughly five square inches of surface area proved much more challenging than supporting a fourteen person dining table.”

Navigating through the many design challenges, Perez insists that although his designs may look intimidating, they are made to be worn—”you won’t be able to wear them out shopping for the day or jogging but they are created to be part of the outrageous and sexy drama that in my mind, wearing high heels is all about.”

Requested by stylists and magazine editors, worn by the likes of Lady Gaga, what began as an inside joke has definitely blossomed into a phenomenon, perhaps because we feel someone finally gets our complicated relationship with our favorite footwear. OmarAngelPerez.com — JULIA STUART