Photo: Diana Rojas
Any hardcore Carrie Bradshaw disciple worth her HBO Go login knows the exquisite agony of finding the perfect shoe—one that tugs at your heartstrings and seems to have been designed by someone intimately acquainted with your wardrobe—only to realize that it costs about two months' rent and is therefore completely unattainable in this reality. Artist Didi Rojas, however, has managed to turn this predicament into inspiration. Since summer 2016, she's been sculpting lo-fi versions of her favorite footwear from Gucci, Balenciaga, and Vetements, which have already been featured in the likes of Vogue and i-D. And while you can't technically wear them around, the resemblances are otherwise uncanny.
"Shoes are extensions of who we are and how we want to portray ourselves. There are tons of styles [and] silhouettes of shoes available and we have the ability to choose which ones will identify us," Rojas tells Glam. "They are fascinating objects. Shoes reveal so much about their wearer. They can tell a whole story about a person’s life and daily habits."
Her homages tend towards the towering, the terrifying, and the fashionably ugly. Those Balenciaga platform Crocs? She's already recreated them, despite the fact that they have yet to even hit stores. $2,000 flame-covered Vetements boots with almost 7-inch heels and Balenciaga's aggressively chunky, immensely polarizing Triple S sneakers are other highlights, while cool kid staples like Vans, Converse, and Adidas are also represented.
"I love how iconic 'ugly' shoes have become," she says. "Shoes are objects we think we understand until we see something like the recent Fenty x Puma flip flop heel. When a shoe’s design or 'look' makes people question its functionality is what really draws me in. Part of the appeal is also that 'ugly' shoes pose a new sculpting challenge."
Art and fashion have a long history of riffing on each other, with designers frequently drawing aesthetic inspiration from the art world, and artists occasionally lampooning fashion's seemingly endless parade of glittering guilty pleasures. By recreating these symbols of both wealth and hipster culture (which, somewhat ironically, so often seem to go hand-in-hand), Rojas demystifies them, transforming something aspirational into something that feels accessible. It's a small comfort for Bradshaw-esque shoe junkies, who find themselves always pining over—and occasionally opening their pocketbooks for—the next big thing in hobble-generating footwear.
But Rojas is also interested in the ways in which fashion and art have become co-conspirators to the benefit of both parties. She cites Gucci designer Alessandro Michele's partnerships with artists like Petra Collins, Coco Capitán, and Ignasi Monreal as a source of inspiration. And, who knows, perhaps someday soon Michele will come to call for a replica of his pearl-encrusted loafer boots, which Rojas created earlier this year.
For now, though, she's satisfied in the knowledge that one Marc Jacobs is aware of her existence. "I made a sandal from the FW17 collection that was part of the Vogue feature and I tagged him in a post on Instagram," she says. "He liked it and commented with hearts. It meant a lot to me because he’s someone that I admire and really wanted to see my work." We can only imagine.