Exclusive Interview: Edgardo Osorio of Aquazzura, Very Sexy Shoes!

When I first learned of Aquazzura shoes it was from Five Story owner Claire Distenfeld. In May she proudly proclaimed her position in NYC high-end retail and promised to bring exciting and daring brands to an otherwise stale retail environment in the U.S. Aquazzura was one of those brands. Bold, enchanting,  colorful, and dare I say —different. I immediately reached out to their team and was able to land a covetable interview with the talented designer behind the brand: Edgardo Osorio. Born in Columbia and having worked under the likes of Salvatore Ferragamo, Sigerson Morrison, René Caovilla and Roberto Cavalli, Osorio built up quite the resume before venturing off to create his own label Aquazzura in 2011.

So…where did he go to school, why his own label, what type of woman wears Aquazzura and what does he do to unwind in his free time? Edgardo answers all these questions and more below! OH, and if you’ve ever wondered how a luxury shoe is assembled, Edgardo clues us in on that too!

ICON: Tell us about your background. Where are you from? Where did you go to school? Why fashion? And why women’s footwear?

EO: I was born in Cartagena, Colombia. I started working in fashion when I was 14 years old, but I knew I wanted to be in fashion since much earlier. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been interested in art, and in creating things, making things, people and spaces more beautiful. I think if I weren’t in fashion I would probably be a plastic surgeon. I’ve always wanted to help people feel more beautiful, to make things beautiful.

I went to school in London to The London College of Fashion and Central St.Martins. I started working in fashion designing clothes, but very quickly I was drawn to accessories and specifically shoes. I’ve always had a fascination with shoes. I remember admiring my mother’s shoe closet when I was little. And I grew up around women, my mother had 4 sisters and they always took me shopping with them. I’ve always very much enjoyed the company of women and it was very interesting to me how shoes could change a woman. When you wear high heels, you have to stand straight, pushing your chest out as well as your behind. When you walk in heels, if you know how to, every move becomes more sensual, more elegant. Marylin Monroe famously removed the heel cap of only one of her shoes so when she walked she would have her famous twist.

ICON: What inspires you when you design?

EO: Design inspirations come to me every day, wherever I am. It can be a book I’m reading, a movie, something interesting I see or a cool girl I see on the street. I’m fortunate to be always travelling for work and pleasure so I get a lot of inspirations in my travels. I design when I’m on the train, a plane, or if I’m lucky by the pool or the beach as well.

ICON: Walk us through the design process. From the initial idea, to sketches, design and production.

EO: As opposed to clothes, shoes have a very long lead time from sketch to final shoe you find in a boutique. It takes as much as six to seven months of time to deliver shoes for retail after the initial sketch. The process starts with an idea or a theme. I travel a lot and most of the time it comes from something that sparked my interest during the trip. Inspiration comes from everywhere: art, a book, a recent exhibition, women I see or meet… I put together mood boards based on this research and then I start sketching the collection. When happy with a group of sketches I will show them to my technical team and patternmakers. They study the shoe with me and discuss possible problems. I go the heel and last factories and work with the artisans to create the base structure in which the patters will be made and to give shape to the shoes. After this the patternmakers inspired in my drawing create patterns, which are then cut in leather. The leather pieces are sewn together making the shoe “upper.” After, the artisans in the shoe factory put together the shoe “upper” with all the other many components of the shoe like the sole, heel, insole, etc.…This mounting and finishing process takes one or two days.

After a few months of intense work, commercial inputs, often changing sketches, materials and ideas, the collection finally is done.

ICON: What type of girl wears Aquazzura shoes?

EO: I don’t like to think I design for a specific kind of woman. I like to think that my shoes are trans-generational. I think all women, no matter what age they are wants to look young and beautiful; I try to address this need. I think my costumer loves to travel, has a taste for beautiful things and wants to enjoy life.

I’m addressing a modern woman that probably has a hectic and active life and she wants to look beautiful any time of the day, which is where the comfort factor comes in. I want women to be able to walk in my shoes all day and feel great, as opposed to change their shoes several times a day since they can’t walk in them.

ICON: What’s your favourite look from your latest collection?

EO: One of my favourite styles remains “Sexy Thing”, Aquazzura’s signature shoe. It has all the elements I think make a perfect shoe: sophistication, sexiness and comfort. I also really love the new pointy version called “very sexy.”

ICON: What is a typical day for you like?

EO: I wake up around 7:30. I try to go running every other day around the Arno River, which is near my house in Florence. I find it terribly upbeat and romantic to start the day running around with the view of Ponte Vecchio. After I get back and shower I have breakfast a Café Giacosa, Roberto Cavalli’s café in Florence which serves the best coffee in town. I get back to my studio around 10 and go through my emails for about one hour. I check all the feedback from our showrooms in Tokyo, New York and Milan. I will also work with my assistants choosing leathers, materials and fabrications. I go to lunch around one, usually somewhere near my office. I love to eat outside in the sun and lately discovered a great place in Piazza Santa Maria Novella with an outdoor terrace that makes the best focaccia and pizza in town. In the afternoon I usually go visit the many suppliers and craftsmen we have in the outskirts of Florence. We work with the best craftsmen in the world and it’s always great to go see what new things they are making. I get back home and do some sketching and working on the many collections I design for me and for other luxury brands. I try to have dinner around 9. Usually with friends and family in one of the many wonderful local restaurants in Florence and catch up. When I get back home from dinner I take a long warm bath. After maybe I’ll watch a TV show, my recent favourites are Downton Abbey and The Borgias or read a good book before heading off to bed.

ICON: When you’re not designing what do you do for fun?

EO: I love to travel! That’s the reason I have created Aquazzura destinations at
our website. I’m a beach bum and try to escape to the beach whenever I can. It really relaxes me to go to the seaside even in the Fall or Spring and read a book by the beach.
This Summer I can’t wait to go to Capri and to Patmos. I love interior design and antiques. I love to go around vintage markets and antique fairs and find interesting
pieces. I’m Latin and I love to dance. I don’t go to clubs very often, but if there’s a party, I’m the first and the last one on the dance floor.

OH, and Edgardo is also a very nice guy…you can check out the signed sketch he sent me here. AND, his resort collection is now on sale at Moda Operandi for another day!


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