Israeli designer wows fashionistas with shoes that defy imagination

By Jennifer Lipman, November 1, 2012
The bubblegum shoe

The bubblegum shoe

Move over Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin. An Israeli shoe designer is putting the fun and fabulous back into footwear at Selfridges this month with his collection of themed stilettoes resembling everything from a shark baring its teeth to a half-peeled banana and a cup of coffee spilling on to the floor.

Kobi Levi, who trained at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, said he was delighted to see 25 of his designs exhibited for the first time outside Israel at the London pop-up boutique.

His shoes, which include a pair shaped like mallard ducks and a jaunty cheerleader with a pompom on the toe and a pleated skirt as the heel, do not come cheap. He makes just 20 of each design, with prices ranging from £650 to more than £2,050.

The shoes are nothing if not noticeable, from a cockerel sporting a red plume and a yellow beak as the heel, to Blonde Ambition, which features a peroxide pony tail flying from the heel, and Chewing Gum, which at first glance looks like the unfortunate wearer has stepped into a sugary pink gunk.

Other creations, not on display in London, include a dog with its tail as the strap, a pair shaped like a child’s climbing frame, and his first effort — while still a student — a confusingly realistic market basket doubling as footwear. He has made shoes that look like miniature leather rocking chairs, pairs with sling shots as heels, and a whole series devoted to toucans, flamingoes and storks,

The coffee cup shoe in black

The coffee cup shoe in black

Mr Levi, 37, has worked as a designer for a decade, but for years kept his outlandish creations as just a hobby. Two years ago he began posting photographs of them online and his work now has a worldwide following, with his double boot even appearing in the video for Lady Gaga’s Born This Way video. ”It became an internet phenomenon,” he said. “People started to contact me for magazine shoots and orders — it all happened in one month.”

He opened a studio in Tel Aviv last year and now sells his designs around the globe, although no Israeli has yet bought a pair.

“To wear these shoes you have to be courageous,” said Mr Levi. “You can’t just look at things the way they are, you have to rethink things. They are between fields of art and design and fashion.”

It was difficult to choose his favourite. “If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t make so much effort to develop it,” he said.

See the Gallery link below for more samples

Last updated: 4:54pm, November 1 2012