Edgardo Osorio takes us on a tour of his New York store & shares the three shoes every woman should own.
We’ll literally take any excuse to shop: weekend in the Catskills, patio season, Thursday at 2 PM—you can pretty much name it. But as far as those excuses go, being invited to the just-opened Madison Avenue Aquazzura boutique with a private walk through (and sketching sesh) with designer Edgardo Osorio, is right up there (and most definitely far more legitimate than a slow afternoon at work, right?). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the store itself is all pink suede walls and iconic Florentine stripes as designed by Cov-alum Ryan Korban. Or that the spring collection, inspired by his clients’ jetset lifestyles, is just about everything we’d ever want to wear. The best part might just be Osorio himself, who lives and breathes shoes and everything beautiful, and has done since his first job designing for Ferragamo at the ripe old age of… 19. (He also happily whipped up an illustration of a Cov-dedicated shoe, which we will treasure forever.) Herein, the designer tells us about why he’s obsessed with Instagram and how he ended up calling the brand Aquazzura in the first place.
ALL ABOUT THE NEW MADISON AVENUE STORE:
“The store was designed by Ryan Korban. This is our fourth store. We have two stores in London, one inside Harvey Nichols and one in Albemarle Street. Our flagship store is in Florence. The whole concept behind the store started in Florence, because the first store is inside a palace from the 18th century. It was quite difficult to emulate that anywhere in the world.
It got me thinking that we live in a globalized world where people travel so much and, actually, my last collection, the one you see here, is about travel. I read that the average person travels around 20 times a year and these girls travel so much more. When you live in New York or any city where you have every luxury store, and then you go to Paris or Hong Kong and it’s the same store with the same architect and the same window and probably the same merchandise— it’s so boring! With us, each store is different. They’re done by different architects with different interior design and even a different color palette and aesthetic. The one thing that kind of blends all stores together is the stripes—I never really met a stripe I didn’t like I often have lunch at Santa Maria Novella in Florence, and Santa Novella Maria Cathedral is all striped on the facades, and if you go inside it’s striped. I wanted to somehow bring Florence to New York, but I also wanted something that really felt unique and belonged to New York. I really wanted a New Yorker to design it, and I love Ryan’s aesthetic.”
ON MAKING THE STORE JUST LIKE HIS LIVING ROOM:
“I’m very involved in all the stores. I’m very passionate about interior design and I know exactly what I want. I like mixing old and new, and this idea of mixing modern furniture with an almost antique setting. We have the double height ceilings, which are amazing, but it was about bringing this architectural element and softening it with very ‘50s and ‘60s shapes: very rounded. Everything has a blush pink, which I love, and the sueded walls. I want every store to feel like you’re coming into my living room, an extension of my house or my personality.”
SHOPPING IN-STORE VERSUS ONLINE:
“Going into a retail location as opposed to shopping online really needs to be an experience. You need to walk in and it needs to give you something. You need to feel.”
HOW HIS LOVE FOR SHOES IS PART OF HIS DNA:
“For me, it was almost innate. I always wanted to make beautiful things. When I was 14 I did some courses in London, and I came back with a portfolio and went to a local designer, started doing internships and I never really stopped. I moved to London when I was very young and, the funny thing is, when I started studying, I would always start the outfits with the shoes. The teachers were like, ‘Why are you wasting your time with clothes!?’ I was always fascinated with shoes! My mother always wore heels. Even at home she wore a wedge. She had four sisters, and they were all crazy about shoes. so I grew up around women and this culture.
I did some courses at Central Saint Martins and I went to the London College of Fashion where I studied shoe and accessory design. I finished in Florence because I dropped out in London to go work at Ferragamo when I was 19.”
WHY AQUAZZURA WAS BORN:
“I think it’s every designer’s dream to have their own brand and, unfortunately, when you’re working for someone else, you’re working for someone else’s taste and vision. You might like it or you might not, but it’s not yours.
When I launched there was nothing in the market that was quite like this. I was invited to 12 weddings that summer and went to 10 of them, and all I heard was women complaining about their shoes or taking them off, which you never should. It got me thinking that somebody should make beautiful and comfortable shoes. Nobody before Aquazzura was talking about comfort. That was a dirty word in fashion. To me, it became an integral part of the process. I think obviously the shoes need to be beautiful, because otherwise you won’t even touch them! But after that, you need to be able to walk in them, to wear them! Shoes are meant to be worn! If you remember five years ago, it was the height of the platform. Apart from the old school designers, the really young designers at the time were making such gimmicky, random, crazy stuff, that I just wanted to make beautiful elegant shoes.”
WHERE DOES THE NAME COME FROM?
“I was in Capri on holiday, and I was actually staying at one of my favorite hotels in Italy.I just wanted a name that reminded me of summer in Italy, of Capri, of the water, of holiday, of something positive, of the dolce vita, in a way. I wanted my brand to be about enjoying yourself and being in a beautiful place, having an amazing experience. My favorite color is blue, and aquazzura means ‘blue water’. I was surrounded by blue water, and I wanted women to think of the summer and something happy. With the pineapple on the sole, I always collected pineapples and I love gold pineapples. In Western society, pineapples are a symbol of hospitality, but gold pineapples are actually from Chinese culture. They symbolize wealth and good fortune. I love the idea of wearing a lucky charm on your shoe.”
WHY INSTAGRAM IS A GREAT INSPIRATION TOOL:
“The biggest inspiration is normally women. I love observing women. I actually think Instagram is a great tool because I’m able to see my clients. I do my own Instagram—they follow me and I follow them back. I see who they are, what they wear, where they’re going, what they’re wearing when they’re not wearing my shoes… And it’s so inspiring.”
ALL ABOUT THE SPRING COLLECTION:
“This collection started with a picture one of my Australian clients posted when she was going on a trip to Fiji, and she had packed her sandals. There’s something about the way that she had built her wardrobe to travel that was so interesting. Then it was about a Mediterranean trip and going to Ibiza with the jewelry, or going to Turkey or Greece with the patterns, and going to Mexico or Colombia with the pompoms. They’re supposed to be like evil eyes—again, like lucky charms.”
THE THREE PAIRS OF SHOES EVERY WOMAN SHOULD OWN?
“The one I had to say firstly is to have a sexy thing, like an open toe bootie they can wear all year long—that they can go to work in, but can also go to a party in. Another is a good flat that can take you from day to night—one that’s sexy. A good flat shoe, not a sandal. And when you want to go on a date or a party, I would say a sexy, strappy shoe is a must.”
“Florence chose me. The thing is, if you want to make luxury goods, Florence is the center of the world for craftsmanship, leather and for beauty as well. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it’s absolutely inspiring to be there. We make everything not only in Italy, but in Tuscany, so being close to the tanneries and the artisans and factories… you can breathe it in. They can feel what I want, they’re able to interpret what I want because I’m close to them, I can see them on a daily basis when I’m there. And you can really feel it in the product—there is that relationship with craftsmanship and it shows through in the shoes. It’s not the same as working from New York or Paris and sending a fax or an email.”