There’s a clip of Beyoncé currently floating around on Twitter. She’s dressed up as a Third Ward princess and talking to the camera about her very 2000s footwear: “These shoes are Bapes, and we got them specially made. These are the only high-heel Bapes,” she says proudly.
It was 2005. Beyoncé was in between filming Dreamgirls, gearing up for the release of The Pink Panther, and squeezing in a video shoot with Hype Williams for “Check on It.” The song was meant to be on The Pink Panther soundtrack—it was dropped from the tracklist at the last minute—and Beyoncé decided on a pink-themed video. She tasked her mother, Miss Tina Lawson, and her then-stylist, Ty Hunter, with finding pink outfits for each character she portrayed in the video.
This was when millennial pink wasn’t a thing. “You couldn't find pink in nobody's showroom or store, so a lot of the stuff had to be made,” says Hunter. This was also when Beyoncé allowed external parties to film and interview her, and MTV captured behind-the-scenes moments from the shoot on Making the Video, the now-defunct series that followed popping artists from the early aughts when big music video budgets existed.
We reached out to Bape, and they confirmed that as far as the know, they are the only Bapestas with a heel. But the company had nothing to do with them.
It was Hunter who purchased the pink patent leather Bapestas at a store and decided to add a heel to them. He was inspired by the Manolo Blahnik Timbs Beyoncé wore in the “03 Bonnie and Clyde” video.
“I thought those boots were the coolest thing. They were so sexy,” says Hunter, who worked on styling that video with June Ambrose. “And I took the sneakers to Miss Tina and said, ‘These would be cool if they had a heel,’ and she said, ‘Give it a try.’ This is before the sneaker tennis shoe or the sneaker heel had even hit.”
Hunter hit up Hymie Zelaya, who used to put together Destiny’s Child’s costumes, for a heavy-duty glue he used to customize shoes. He spent the night constructing them, cutting off the top of the sneakers for a more feminine silhouette and then adding a pink patent leather heel to the sole.
“They had to be sturdy because she was doing a lot of bopping around in them,” says Hunter, who also made the fringe shoes Beyoncé wore in the “Run the World (Girls)” video. “Everybody loved them.”
Where are the shoes now? Hunter isn’t sure. He was tagged in the video floating around on Twitter and thought about detailing the story on his Instagram, but didn’t get to it.
“I could truly say that I never did interviews or anything to tell anyone I made the shoe. Back in the day, I was running away from journalists and stuff like that,” says Hunter. “I was going to post the story on Instagram, but then life happened and I saved it. Then I got home and my publicist was like, ‘Oh, Complex wants to talk to you about those Bape heels Beyoncé wore,’ and I'm like, ‘Wow, this is so crazy how God works.’”