Meet Noritaka Tatehana, The Designer Who Creates Custom Nine-Inch Platform Shoes For Lady Gaga

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage; Shoes courtesy of Noritaka Tatehana

Lady Gaga has some amazing shoes. Gravity-defying, yes, but amazing nonetheless. And you know why? Because she’s Gaga, and she can. Like she told Rolling Stone for its latest issue: “When I wake up in the morning, I just feel like any other insecure 24-year-old girl. Then I say, ’Bitch, you’re Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today.'” And lately, she’s been walking in nine-inch platforms by Japanese accessories designer Noritaka Tatehana.

You’ve probably seen Tatehana’s work. This week, she’s wearing Tatehana’s platform magenta pair with her gun bra and black thong in Rolling Stone. In the video for Alejandro, she rocked a white variation with her religious cross-on-the-privates outfit, and at a concert in New York last month, she sported his shoes in black. It seems as if only Gaga can manage walking on stilts without looking like a clown.

We caught up with the 25-year-old designer, who is based in Omotesando, Tokyo, to chat about how Lady Gaga made his shoes famous (“I must continue to work on my creation in order to live up to her expectations…,” he told us), how they are created, and where you get snag a pair for yourself. Check out our Q&A session with him below.

+ Plus, click here to see 10 looks from his collection (Gaga picks and more!).

Photo: Courtesy of Noritaka Tatehana

How did you get into design?
Noritaka: “At a very young age, I learned from my mother, who teaches how to make Swedish dolls, how wonderful it was to create things. I started learning painting when I was 15, and at around the same time, started to make shoes on my own. I graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in March this year and majored in Textile Arts.”

How did you decide to launch your line?
“In school, I launched my own Noritaka Tatehana brand, introducing lines of luxurious leather shoes and bags. The necessary techniques for making these shoes and bags were all self-taught.”

What was your inspiration for your heel-less shoes, the ones that Lady Gaga wears?
“I am interested in history and in the old culture and would like to divert them into modern world. The unique and creative shape comes from “Kan Pokkuri,” which used to be clogs made of empty cans. In the old days, Japanese children used to make these clogs, passing a cord through holes made in the cans. After placing each foot on a can, they tried to walk, holding the cord in their hands.”

How tall are they?
“They are approximately 23 centimeters high. [Or 9.1 inches.]”

How much does one pair of shoes cost?
“The price ranges from $2,500 a pair to $4,000.”

Photo: Courtesy of Noritaka Tatehana

How many pairs have you created for Lady Gaga?
“So far, I have made five pairs for her. Most of them are customized. I start making them after talking things over with Nicola [Nicola Formichetti, Gaga’s stylist].”

How did you meet Nicola?
“I e-mailed him directly myself, and he showed great interest in my work.”

What was your reaction when you first saw Lady Gaga wear your shoes?
“She was on a music program when I first saw her wear my shoes. I was very excited and happy because they looked so nice on her.”

What did you think of seeing your shoes in Lady Gaga’s Alejandro video?
“What I create is there, solely to bring the best out of the person who wears them. I was thrilled to witness this when I saw Lady Gaga in her new video.”

What has Lady Gaga done for your career?
“Thanks to Lady Gaga, my collections have become widely known around the world. I must continue to work on my creation in order to live up to her expectations.”

Are you working on more shoes for Lady Gaga?
“She has placed some more orders. Please look forward to what might be coming up in the future.”

What are your plans for the future?
“I simply want to communicate with as many people as possible through my works. In addition to my two annual shoe collections, I plan to create collections with much stronger artistic elements in the future. My final goal is to be able to show my collections at the Paris Fashion Week as an overall designer.”

Where can people (other than Lady Gaga) buy them?
“My Web shop is underway. It will be ready at the beginning of July. Customers all over the world will be able to order from my Web shop soon.”

+ Would you wear these shoes?