The Best Shoes Of 2011

We’re rolling out our Best Of 2011 coverage over the next couple of weeks, and while the year isn’t quite over yet, everyone’s shoe game thus far has been rife with eye-bugging awesomeness that we’re recapping things from here. *cue Gaga or Jeremy Scott rolling out with a pair of hovercraft sneakers equipped with jet engines and turbofans tomorrow* So from us at MTV Style to you, our beloved shoe-gazing readers, we’ve compiled the following collection of fancy, funky, and even freaky footwear for your perusing enjoyment. Let the coveting BEGIN!


Katy Perry in Giuseppe Zanotti at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards and Susie Bubble in Sixby6Bloggers at the 2011 British Fashion Awards. Photo: PictureGroup/Getty Images

Color blocking was a huge trend in general this year from the runways to the blogs, but few were as memorable as Katy Perry in Giuseppe Zanotti platform sandals coupled with that yellow cube hat at the 2011 VMAs. Almost half a year has passed, and we’re STILL daydreaming about that heel. The always-stylish blogger Susie Bubble got in on the trend with these sculpted Sixby6Bloggers booties she wore to the 2011 British Fashion Awards (which, BTW, she designed herself!). Even this late in the year, the brash blocks still looked fresh—mostly due to the endless possibilities for unexpected color combos—so we predict this trend will have legs (*badum tssssh*) well into next year.


Rose McGowan and Olivia Wilde wear spiky Christian Louboutin peep-toe booties at “A Night Of Red Carpet Style” hosted by People StyleWatch and the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards, respectively. Photo: PictureGroup/WireImage

Last year’s most memorable shoes included THRONGS of metal embellished heels. This year was no different, especially on the red carpet. What’s evolved from last year, however, is that starlets took a daintier approach to their hardware. Instead of the fat pyramid studs and inch-long spikes that ran game in 2010, this year’s punk detailing was a little more subdued, a little more…delicate. Chief among these are the ubiquitous spiked peep-toe Christian Louboutin Bridget booties, worn by Rose McGowan, Olivia Wilde at the Golden Globes, and many, many more.


Jessie J and Willlow Smith wear quirky combat boots.
Photo: FilmMagic/Getty Images

In lockstep with this year’s ’90s revival, combat boots were back in a big way for 2011. Along with the classic all-black Doc Marten kicks, celebs like Jessie J and the adorable Willow Smith opted for updated iterations of the grunge standby. Whether in the form of a gold metallic finish or an outright gang of glittering embellishments, elongated silhouettes, funky plaid patterns, or haphazard-looking cutouts, 2011 was the year of the quirky combat.


Azealia Banks, Kerli, and Robyn all wear flatforms.
Photo: Redferns/Getty Images

Flatforms had a HA-YUGE year in 2011, as illustrated here by Azealia Banks and her creepers, Kerli and her platform baby-doll sneakers, and Robyn with her signature custom Timbs. The great thing about flatforms is that you enjoy all the height of heels without any of the knee-cartilage mutilating hardship. Plus, you can peer down at the world while Franken-walking for extra intimidation points.


Blake Lively and Jeremy Scott wear animal-inspired shoes.
Photo: Splash News/Getty Images

One thing we’ve seen a lot this year is the host of new super-literal, animal-inspired shoes that have cropped up just about everywhere recently. Christian Louboutin’s cosplay-ish Fall 2011 collection, spotted on Blake Lively while shooting an episode of Gossip Girl, had us scratching our heads at first in disbelief. I meannnn, paws on your feet? As a real thing, not a Halloween costume? Where you can actually see the Big Cat knuckle and toenail? IDK. I guess they look good on Blake (but what doesn’t), and we saw Phillipe Blond of The Blonds (who could “Sashay! Shante!” in a paper sack) wear them a little while back, too, but somehow, we’re still not totally convinced we LUH it. What was an easier sell for us by yards was Jeremy Scott’s wink at the animal footwear trend by way of several pairs of sneakers adorned with dorbz teddy bears on the tongue and upper. In styles that range from “Snuggle” bear to panda, the collection managed to be both squishy and fierce.


Audrina Patridge, Daphne Guiness, and Nicole Scherzinger wear heel-less shoes.
Photo: WireImage/Getty Images/FilmMagic

The idea of a shoe sans heel is believed to have stemmed from French shoe designer Andre Perugia back in the 1930s (Google image search his name and thank me later), but it was Lady Gaga and her gravity-defying nine-inch Noritaka Tatehana booties that resurfaced the style last year. Since then, the style has evolved beyond shock-art fashion to subtler, less extreme red-carpet appropriate iterations. And while I can’t conceive of spending an hour, let alone a day, teetering atop these things (because I have the balance of a 2-year-old with middling-to-severe inner ear problems), it’s near-impossible not to appreciate how impressive and imaginative these shoes are. Within the spectrum, Audrina Patridge wore a subdued style to the American Music Awards afterparty with a thick platform and the heel extending only slightly farther than the shoe’s base. Daphne Guiness (good GOD we love the woman), however, sported a MASSIVE platform over which the heels of her feet extend faaaaar out in the back, while Nicole Scherzinger’s graphic nude pair lie somewhere twixt the two.


Kid Cudi and Theophilus London wear Nike MAGs.
Photo: Getty Images

This year marked the unveiling of Nike’s Air MAGs, aka the IRL version of Marty McFly’s Back to the Future 2 sneakers. While the kicks don’t lace themselves like they do in the movie, they DO light up and otherwise 100% resemble the OG high-tops. A limited number were put up for auction, with the proceeds going to The Michael J. Fox Foundation. We might not have been able to snag a pair for ourselves (#sadface), but thanks to fashionable celebs like Kid Cudi and Theophilus London, we get to still get to see them and zoom close.


Kanye West and Alexa Chung wear smoking slippers.
Photo: Getty Images

The smoking slipper burst onto the scene this year as a kind of oxford/brogue alternate. That’s not to say that the lace-up flat is out, but these dapper slip-ons were all over celeb street-style snaps and even a few red carpet step-and-repeats. Kanye West wore a bejeweled pair to this year’s CFDA Fashion Awards while we spotted (and coveted) Alexa Chung’s Charlotte Olympia kitty flats at a number of the most fabulous fashion events of the season. The style is beloved by MTV Style staffers when we’re taking a break from the altitude.


Lady Gaga trains “American Idol” contestants.
Photo: Courtesy of Fox/Void Of Course

This year, Lady Gaga wore a pair of dildo shoes for her guest appearance as a contestant mentor on Fox’s American Idol. It’s not just the outrageous shock factor of these controversial shoes that makes them so unforgettable, though. It’s the effort the show/network appeared to have put behind blurring the image of Mother Monster’s clear, swirly peen-heels, because well, sure, but also, LOLZ at trying to cover up THE GAGA. We’re not sure that it qualifies as a trend since we saw it but the once (though those heel-free styles did appear to take off this year… #neversaynever), but a recap of the most noteworthy shoes we’ve seen this year wouldn’t be complete without a nod to these kooky kicks.

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