Zaha Hadid’s Nova Shoe

Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University by Zaha Hadid, photo by Carlos Osorio/Associated Press, from

The relationship between fashion and architecture is an interesting one that I want to explore more. The process of design has many commonalities — both need to be functional, support the needs of human bodies, and can be innovative, playful, and imaginative with materials and forms.

Architect Zaha Hadid is famous for her futuristic architecture. The Design Museum says she experiments with “multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry” in her buildings, which are often highlighted by sleek, shiny facades. There is a certain fluidity in her design, even though her structures are highly abstracted. She was the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, among other prestigious architecture awards.

But now she’s taken her experimentation with spatial concepts to the world of fashion, and has focused attention on footwear in a collaboration with United Nude. In many ways her design is less shoe, more foot architecture.

The Nova Shoe design hinges on a cantilevered system that supports a 6.25 inch invisible heel. Using the latest technology, the shoe uses injection and rotation molding and vacuum casting.

True to Hadid’s style, the Nova shoe marries natural rhythm and futurism in aesthetic design. The upper is made out of metallic chromed vinyl rubber and lined with Italian kid nappa leather, the platform and heel are made of fiberglass, and the sole is made of rubber.

Only 100 editions of each color were produced — black chroming, silver chroming, and rose gold — and each costs $2,000.

Obviously, I’ve never tried on these shoes, but I once tried on a pair of Jeffrey Campbell shoes that had an invisible heel. I was surprised that they weren’t impossible to walk in (but did give my shins a bit of a workout). Knowing Hadid’s talent as an architect, I’m sure her shoes are more than just aesthetically creative. While maybe requiring good balance, I doubt they are hard to walk in, and they might even be comfortable!

Are you as intrigued as I am at Hadid’s intersection of fashion and architecture?


  1. Terri Gardner says:

    Those are some shoes. I’ve always respected Hadad’s designing ability. And I had forgotten about United Nude-neat shoes in general. If you look at them, they are just a platform heel, (I think )and probably would be very walkable.

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