Chau Har Lee
There's an elite tier of luxury shoe designers only a few names long: Christian Louboutin, Nicholas Kirkwood, Pierre Hardy, and Manolo Blahnik are widely considered to be the best in the biz. But they may have to make room for rising design star Chau Har Lee, whose high-concept kicks look more like art installations than something to walk around in.
Lee, a recent Royal College of Art graduate, drew high praise with her knockout thesis collection of gravity-defying footwear. A Jetsons-esque heel in particular featured chiseled wood discs equally spaced throughout a sky-high pump, creating a floaty, Space Age effect.
Her latest collection, available on a made-to-order basis from London's Selfridges department store, includes knife-like metal heels (that could do serious damage if they encountered an unfortunate bare toe) in a black leather peep-toe shoe. Though slightly more accessible than her graduate collection, we think it demonstrates Lee's business smarts that she adapted a her high-concept look to the mass market. And besides, judging from her past work, we know this ingenue has a whole lot more up her sleeve.