The History Behind Stuart Weitzman’s Million-Dollar Shoes on the Oscars Red Carpet: From Laura Harring’s Diamond Heels to Diablo Cody’s Controversy

Stuart Weitzman‘s contribution to the luxury shoe industry spans over five decades. During the early noughties, the brand became a celebrity favorite and was known for its million-dollar, headline-making creations which were often seen on the Academy Awards red carpet.

It all started in 2002 with actress Laura Harring, who attended the Oscars ceremony wearing a custom pair of heels adorned with 464 diamonds. The dream shoes, as they were called, were evaluated at $1 million. Harring, who was also wearing a $25,000,000 diamond necklace, was accompanied on the red carpet by four bodyguards.

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402719 15: Actress Laura Harring, wearing a pair of Stuart Weitzman-designed shoes worth approximately $1 million and a necklace worth approximately $27 million, attends the 74th Annual Academy Awards March 24, 2002 at The Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
Laura Harring, wearing a pair of Stuart Weitzman-designed shoes worth approximately $1 million, at the 74th Annual Academy Awards on March 24, 2002. Getty Images

“When worn at the 2002 Academy Awards by Laura Harring, it solidified our leading position with celebrities and brought worldwide recognition to the brand,” Weitzman previously told FN.

The designer released a more affordable version of the shoes worn by Harring ten years later, swapping the diamonds for Swarovski crystals, while the price tag went from $1 million to $595.

404600 05: A secutiry guard watched over a pair of Stuart Weitzman $1M diamond and platinum shoes April 29, 2002 in London. The shoes, worn by model Laura Elena Harring at this year's Oscars, are covered with 464 diamonds and are the most expensive shoes in the world. The shoes are going on sale at Harrod's department store and the proceeds will go to childrens'' charities. (Photo by Sion Touhig/Getty Images)
A security guard watched over a $1 million pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes at the Oscars 2002. Getty Images

In 2004, Weitzman continued his mission to impress on the Oscars red carpet, creating a pair of Cinderella-inspired glass slippers that featured 565 Kwiat diamonds set in platinum. Alison Krauss wore the shoes, which were priced at $2 million.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 29:  Singer Alison Krauss attends the 76th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on February 29, 2004 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
Alison Krauss at the 76th Annual Academy Awards on Feb. 29, 2004.Getty Images

Krauss was also accompanied by a security guard on the red carpet. She later received a replica of the shoes with crystals instead of diamonds.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 29:  (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER AND US TABS OUT) A close up of Singer Alison Krauss shoes while attending the 76th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on February 29, 2004 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
A close-up of Alison Krauss’ shoes. Getty Images

Regina King was chosen to follow Krauss as the wearer of Weitzman’s dream shoes in 2005 when she was nominated for her work in “Ray.” The actress’ shoes were adorned with a pair of earrings once owned by Marilyn Monroe.

Regina King during The 77th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals at Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Regina King during the 77th Annual Academy Awards.WireImage

Later, Christie’s auctioned the heels for $1,000,000 — although Weitzman had replaced Marilyn’s earrings with replicas by then.

BEVERLY HILLS - FEBRUARY 24:(L-R) Actress Regina King and shoe designer Stuart Weitzman at the unveiling of the special shoes (2 pieces of Marilyn Monroe's jewels embedded in the satin) that she will be wearing to the Academy Awards, as she attends the Celebrity shoe Designer Stuart Weitzman annual Oscar dinner, at Christies Auction House on February 24, 2005 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images)
Regina King and Stuart Weitzman at the unveiling of the special shoes before the 2005 Oscars. Getty Images

Kathleen York was one of the last celebrities to wear a million-dollar Stuart Weitzman shoe on the Oscars red carpet. The singer attended the event in 2006 donning the designer’s Rita Hayworth Heel, which was priced at $3 million. The shoes featured earrings made of diamonds, rubies and sapphires previously worn by Rita Hayworth.

Hollywood, UNITED STATES:  Singer Kathleen "Bird" York arrives 05 March, 2006, for the 78th Academy Awards to be presented at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California.  AFP PHOTO/JEFF HAYNES  (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)
Kathleen York at the 78th Academy Awards. AFP via Getty Images

In 2007, “Dreamgirls” actress Anika Noni Rose wore $500.000 diamond slippers created by Stuart Weitzman to the Oscars.

HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 25:  Actress Anika Noni Rose attends the 79th Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 25, 2007 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
Anika Noni Rose at the 79th Annual Academy Awards.Getty Images

In 2008, the dream shoes caused controversy. Diablo Cody, who was invited to wear Stuart Weitzman pumps evaluated at $1 million on the Oscars red carpet that year, refused to wear the shoes before the ceremony.

“They’re using me to publicize their stupid shoes and nobody asked me,” Cody, who ended up winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for “June,” wrote on her MySpace, adding, “I would never consent to a lame publicity stunt at a time when I already want to hide.”

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Designer Stuart Weitzman unveils his "Retro Rose" shoe studded with over $1 million worth of Kwiat diamonds designed for Academy Award Nominee Diablo Cody February 22, 2008 at the Stuart Weitzman store in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images)
Stuart Weitzman unveils his “Retro Rose” shoe studded with over $1 million worth of Kwiat diamonds. Getty Images

Weitzman told AP back then that he had made the cost of the heels clear to Cody when he met with her and blamed her team for the lack of communication. “I’m just embarrassed that she wrote what she wrote,” he told AP.

2008 also marked a shift in red-carpet dressing in Hollywood. Following the financial crisis, celebrities decided to avoid over-expensive pieces at the Oscars to show respect to people affected by the recession.

In 2009, Weitzman told the New York Post he would stop creating million-dollar shoes for the event.

“There will be no Million Dollar shoe for the Oscars this year. With so many people struggling financially, and unemployment at 10 percent, I don’t think it is appropriate. The actresses still want to go for glamour, but this year it will be more understated,” the designer said.

The 2024 Oscars will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday and will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

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