By Alessandra Codinha
Few debuts can have been as auspicious as that of Edgardo Osorio’s footwear collection, Aquazzura, which, when Barneys New York picked it up in 2012, famously sold out within a few days. Ten years later, the brand remains beloved by boldfaced names such as Nicole Kidman, Kate Middleton and fashion insiders alike for exceptionally pretty party shoes that won’t leave their wearer writhing in pain. “They’re very happy shoes, very sexy shoes,” Osorio says: “I always say they are shoes that make you smile and make you feel good.” Feel is important to the Colombian-born designer, who came up with the idea for Aquazzura when he was 25, after a particularly busy social season—invited to 12 weddings that summer, he says, he went to all but one—left his female friends bitterly complaining about their battered feet. “I thought, well, there’s really an opportunity here. No one is making beautiful, comfortable shoes; that’s something we could work on,” Osorio recalls. “There were wonderful shoemakers from much older generations making beautiful shoes, but there wasn’t anyone from my generation making them.” Especially not ones you could dance all night in. Thus, Aquazzura was born.
Osorio has spent the past decade building the brand and recently began steering it into bold new directions, from some buzzy recent collaborations to launches that extend well beyond the feet to handbags and homewares. “I always knew I wanted to make it a lifestyle brand,” Osorio says; he’s been intricately involved in the design of the company’s stores and events from the beginning. The idea of Aquazzura Casa, a full world of chic, colorful, joyous accessories for you and your table, just made sense. “Personally, I love to host. I think hosting is such an act of love, because you’re giving the best that comes from your heart, whether it’s cooking wonderful food, choosing flowers, the music, the people you’re going to invite or how you’re going to seat them at the table,” Osorio says. “For me, rediscovering the art of the table and rediscovering hosting after COVID, it just felt like the right time.”
Collaborations with fashion world favorites like skincare savior Barbara Sturm, Marie-Louise Scío, the head of artistic direction for the legendary Pellicano hotel group, and Swarovski’s creative director Giovanna Battaglia-Engelbert all clicked into place naturally. “I collaborate with my friends. It’s all very natural. It just kind of happens,” says Osorio, who spent time with Sturm in Malibu during lockdown, picked the former orthopedist’s brain about how to best design shoes for healthy feet and got to talking about holes in the footcare market. “One of the things I always felt was that there’s nothing more unsexy than a foot cream,” Osorio says. “So I said, why don’t we make a foot serum spray that’s not some horrible cream that will stain your shoes and that you don’t mind having in your handbag? I couldn’t believe no one had thought of it before.” Sturm’s toning and revitalizing Foot Spray was sold as part of a capsule collection alongside strappy leather sandals in beachy pastels. For Scío’s project, Issimo, Osorio made jewel- toned knotted silk slip-on sandals and heels inspired by Federico Fellini’s 1960 film La Dolce Vita. During the Venice Biennale in June, Aquazzura launched 20 limited edition bags made with precious stones and metals by Béatrice Serre, a French artist known for her mosaics. The entire collection sold out the same day. Next up, Osorio says, is the collaboration with Swarovski: a plexi shoe incorporating a brand new crystal debuting in the fall. “The shoe is incredible,” he says, “it looks like you’re walking on crystals and nothing else.”
Success has not come easily, and is all the sweeter for it. “I’m surprised every day that we’re still in business after 10 years! We survived COVID as a small independent brand in the world of conglomerates and big financial fashion companies!” Osorio says. How does he stay inspired a decade in? “As a designer, I feel that you’re a sponge to everything around you,” he says. “When I travel, I go to the new, cool restaurants to see how people are dressed… Honestly, my favorite part is seeing people wearing my shoes having a good time and looking great. When I see someone in my shoes looking fabulous, that makes me super happy.”
Here’s to the next 10 years.