Edgardo Osorio of Aquazzura: the interview for the ten years of Vogue Talents
Edgardo Osorio, designer of Aquazzura, was chosen to appear on the special issue to celebrate the ten years of Vogue Talents. This selection was in fact dedicated to those designers who have been supported by Vogue Talents and with whom a close relationship has been created. We therefore decided to publish, in full form, the interviews originally published in the issue of last September. Edgardo Osorio he told us many experiences of his long career, his beginnings, his move to Italy, his multi-ethnic roots and the main moments that represented lessons and successes for him.
Here’s what we talked about together.
How did you start in the world of women’s shoes? Remember the first pair of shoes you designed?
Since I was very young I have always wanted to do something artistic. I have always dreamed of creating my own world, not necessarily in the field of footwear. But I knew I wanted to do something creative and to work in the world of fashion. And I was lucky because at the age of fourteen I did an internship in Colombia. After only a week I discovered that I was fond of accessories and not much of clothing, which was very positive, given the young age. I have been sketching shoes since I was young. I still remember the first pair of shoes that I designed for Aquazzura as if it were yesterday. I was in Portugal, in a hotel along the river, sitting by the pool, I wanted to design a pair of shoes that looked like a mask and that was like a glove, a second skin. A pair of boots came out with a very sensual cut-out effect on the front.
Why did you decide to launch your brand when you were only 25 years old?
At twenty-five I already had ten years of experience, having done traineeships and subsequently having started working for various brands including Cavalli. I thought the market was very complicated, saturated and full of too strange shoe models and I just wanted to go back to something beautiful and sexy. When I launched my brand, there were no new generation shoe designers who did anything interesting, to the point of becoming the new guard.
So I thought there was an opportunity. Nobody who thought about the busy and busy lives of women, about the fact that not all women want to go around on stilettos and even if someone wants to do it, they want these heels to be comfortable. So I thought to focus on comfort to create shoes that you can show off in the evening, but you can also wear during the day. And at the same time not only to offer heels, but also flat shoes that were not boring, or grandmothers. Even if grandmothers still want to be cool! Nobody wants to look old! The reason I started making flat shoes, like Christie’s, is because women who wear flat shoes usually tend to apologize for it. I never understood why and therefore I thought of proposing flat shoes that could be cool and to be worn everywhere.
Speaking of comfort which is one of the fundamental components of your shoes, from a technical point of view, how did you manage to make shoes with heels comfortable? What’s the secret?
I like those shoes which are light. For this, I work with craftsmen who have worked with shoes for more than fifty years. We worked with them on balance: normally when you wear heels the whole weight of the body rests on the front; we, therefore, worked to distribute the weight between the front of the shoe, the arch and the back, to give greater support. First of all the shoes must be beautiful, otherwise, nobody would look at them. Then we work on comfort. For me, the comfort of shoes is fundamental, even if it is not sneakers, so with all the limitations related to a shoe with a heel, we try to make it as comfortable as possible. I work with Tuscan artisans, in Tuscany which is a region with an incredible history of shoes.
How would you describe your philosophy?
Mine is an Italian brand, therefore with an Italian taste for shoes, but there is also a certain “ease”. The brand looks like me and I’m a mix: I grew up between the United States and Europe, so this is reflected in the brand. Therefore Latin sensuality, Italian elegance and American “ease” are all components of Aquazzura.
Why did you choose pineapple as a symbol of your brand?
I have always collected pineapples because I have always found them very beautiful. I was in southern Italy, in Capri, when I found my brand name. There were a lot of pineapples everywhere and so I started researching and found that in some countries they are a symbol of good luck. I therefore love the fact that my brand logo was auspicious and had the gold inspired within this fruit.
You were born in Colombia, raised between Miami and London and then established your brand in Florence. How do these places influence you? Why did you choose to found your brand here in Italy? What are your other sources of inspiration?
I no longer live in Italy, I travel almost eight months a year. I have a studio in London and I have an office in New York, but I travel a lot around the world. In these cases I like to look around, see what local women wear, to be inspired, as well as art, fairs, exhibitions. I am also very passionate about interior design and this is evident in my stores, where furniture certainly plays a central role.
Can you tell me about the process of creating your boutiques?
I believe stores must be like a home and when someone enters one of my stores they are entering my house. Of course, I would never give a house in Milan, London or Moscow the same way. All of them would have a different style while maintaining and mirroring my vision. Many of my customers are travelers, so none of them would like to see the same store in New York and Milan. I want them to always be different and take inspiration from where they are.
From 2011 to today, how has your life changed and how has your brand evolved?
The brand has evolved a lot since its inception. When we started the collections it was much smaller, fewer product categories. Now we have launched the sneakers, we sell online, we are entering new markets. The brand is growing globally. Now we have an incredible growing team, while in the beginning, it was just me, my partner and maybe another person. The team is everything now; there will be over a hundred people in the world.
Speaking of product categories, you have already said that you are in an expansion phase, for example by designing sneakers.
As you know Aquazzura began in Capri, and is very tied to the holiday destinations. The same name derives from a holiday: we were thinking of an escape to Italy in the summer and I always wanted to create a capsule collection and products that made you think you could go far, that made you dream. So you buy a bag, shoes, a pair of earrings and you’re already almost on vacation. I love these types of products because they are fun and playful. It is always important for me to develop these categories. Next year we will launch a line of leather goods and probably bags, expanding to follow the more natural direction of the brand.
Is there a model of your shoes that best represents you?
One of the shoes that represents the brand is the Wild Thing sandal. It is a shoe that has already become truly iconic: there is sensuality, there is playfulness. You can wear it day and night, because it is very versatile. You can combine it with jeans and T-shirts or wear it for a red carpet or a wedding, as well as a party. It is the perfect Aquazzura shoe.
What was it like designing shoes for Megan Markle’s wedding?
It was an incredible honor. We were the only Italian brand at the royal wedding and it was incredible, a privilege, something that I will always remember. the Duchess of Sussex is a true style icon, a true model for modernity and for the future. I am very happy because he always wore our shoes even in the time of Suits.
Would you define having designed the shoes for your wedding as a turning point in your career? What are the key moments of your career?
One is definitely the wedding, but also when I opened my store on Madison Avenue; it was the realization of the dream of a lifetime. It was really special and exciting. This is still our largest store.
You have created capsule collections both with other brands and with models and influencers. Why did you decide to make these collaborations? What do you like about these collaborations and which have been the most significant?
I like to collaborate with brands and people I admire. I think it’s something that brings a stimulus to the brand. As a male designer I like to collaborate with women who help me draw from their point of view. It is also an opportunity to do something different and new. One of my favorite collaborations was, because I love interior design, when I had the opportunity to design wallpapers with de Gournay and then we created matching shoes. It was a very successful collaboration, sold out in four days!