For his graduation project last year at Tokyo University of the Arts, Noritaka Tatehana crafted a pair of shoes that looked like go-go boots for an alien, replete with 10-inch platform soles and a heel-less form that appeared to defy gravity. His professors were less than enthusiastic. “They didn’t see the value,” recalls Tatehana, 26. “The university is very conservative. They do not like the avant-garde, the cutting edge.”
Undeterred, he began e-mailing stylists and one of the few responses came from Nicola Formichetti, who asked him to create a pair for none other than Lady Gaga. Since then, the pop star has worn Tatehana’s outlandishly tall shoes on multiple occasions: in the video for her 2010 hit song “Alejandro” (a nude leather style), to a Taipei yoga studio, of all places, in July (black, adorned with gold thornlike spikes) and later that month at an appearance in Singapore (transparent vinyl). Tatehana gifted Gaga her first pair (plain black leather) and she subsequently ordered 14 more styles after that. The two then struck an exclusive deal that the cobbler would not work for any other musician.