Extreme Footwear: 11 Pairs That Push The Limit

When you want to find a really, really special pair of shoes, the mall is probably not the first place that comes to mind. But, with department stores and mass retailers joining independent boutiques in championing once-minor brands like Charlotte Olympia and Nicholas Kirkwood to Louboutin-level heights, all that is changing.
These days, it seems like the taller, wackier, and more out there a pair is, the more likely it's going to fly off the shelves. While "extreme footwear" can sometimes ring in at extreme prices, even affordable brands are buying into the eclectic ethos, churning out wedge after heel after platform that only the bravehearted among us would love. Ahead, the pairs that have our hearts racing.
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Reports WWD, Nicholas Kirkwood's brand has tripled since 2010 and can be found in 140 retailers worldwide. It's particularly well-known for its red-carpet-worthy styles (showing up on decidedly unique and stunning starlets like Zoe Saldana, Kristen Wiig, and Michelle Williams).

Nicholas Kirkwood Pointed-Hair Pumps, $962.91, available at Colette.
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Who ever imagined that one day, you'd be able to buy these next to a stack of button-up shirts?

Creatures of the Wind for J.Crew Oxford, $295, available at J.Crew.
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Charlotte Olympia is one of the biggest and best-selling brands in department stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus. This Matryoshka doll-head shoe is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Charlotte Olympia Sandal, $1,565, available at Bergdorf Goodman.
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The boot equivalent of a monokini — how long do you think it takes to get into these?

Alexander McQueen Black Knee-High Wedges, $3,298, available at SSense.
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Alexander Wang's shoes have never been plain, per se, but even these mesh-bottomed booties are a bold aberration for the designer.

Alexander Wang Cameron Shoe, $585, available at Alexander Wang.
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New to the scene, Aperlai is also a best-selling brand, with its futuristic-meets-architectural designs. According to WWD, the French brand was picked up by Saks in 2010 and is now available at 60 retail outlets worldwide.

Aperlai Platform Sandals, $1,010, available at Saks.
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Seeing a $150 price tag at Nine West may have once been unthinkable, but today, even the mass shoe retailer is getting in on the extreme footwear game!

Boutique 9 Noisey Heel, $150, available at Nine West.
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Prada's daisy-covered lace-ups are for a very specific, very rad sort of lady.

Prada Lace-Ups, $1,350, available at Prada.
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The fact that they're vegan doesn't stop these shoes from reaching new heights. These babies can be found on L.A. e-commerce site, Nasty Gal.

Nasty Gal Vegan Platforms, $138, available at Nasty Gal.
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A spiked pair of Zanottis will definitely do some damage (to your wallet and any errant passersby).

Giuseppe Zanotti Spiked Wedges, $3,025, available at Net-a-Porter.
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Yep, these are Zara!

Zara Tiger Wedge, $159, available at Zara.
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