Hubert Burda Media

In His Shoes

To EDGARDO OSORIO, shoes are as much about form and wearability as they are an outlet for creativity

Its pieces are worn regularly by fashion insiders the likes of Carine Roitfeld and Nina Garcia and the Financial Times proclaimed it the “Hottest Shoe Label of the Season”. Aquazzura, the luxury footwear brand by Colombian designer Edgardo Osorio, has certainly had a meteoric rise since its founding just four years ago.

In Sinagpore recently for his brand’s debut at On Pedder, Osorio tells us that his inclination towards the bewitching world of shoes is organic. As a child, his mother and aunts “almost always wore high heels at home” and would take him on “crazy shopping sprees”. While studying fashion at the London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins, even his lecturers observed his passion for footwear. “[They’d comment]: ‘You put more effort into the shoes than the actual clothes!’” he says.

Osorio later went on to work for shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo (for which he moved to Italy at 19), Sigerson Morrison, Rene Caovilla and Roberto Cavalli, where over a decade, he acquired valuable know-how in embroidery, laser-cutting and hand-painting techniques. “I got to know incredible people, artists and artisans through them, and got to witness what ‘Made in Italy’ is truly about. How through different techniques you can manipulate materials to make them beautiful and different. This allows me to push envelopes when I design,” he says.

In 2011, after attending 12 weddings in a single summer — “It was like a full-time job for me,” he says with a laugh — and noticing how women would take off their shoes before hitting the dance floor, he decided that beautiful, sexy shoes, could be better made.

For his line, Osorio engages Italian artisans situated an hour away from his studio in Palazzo Corsini, Florence. Together, they aim to find design solutions to give wearers greater comfort. The insertion of padded memory foam on every shoe tip is but one of their practices to ensure long-lasting wear and weight distribution between one’s toes, arch and heels. “Comfort was a dirty word before. If you spoke of comfort, people automatically thought of orthopaedic shoes,” he comments. But what sceptics fail to remember is that “you’re sexier and more confident when you’re comfortable.”

Today, his shoes are worn by women whom he counts as friends as well as style inspirations. They include fashion editor Giovanna Battaglia of Vogue Japan and social media editor Hayley Bloomingdale of Moda Operandi, as well as socialite Olivia Palermo with whom he launched a six-piece capsule collection last year.

But what does he think is the reason women adore Aquazzura creations? “[It’s because] they become a part of you and they feel like a second skin. When a woman wears my shoes, it comes alive,” says the Cartagena-born designer. “The wonderful thing about shoes is that they give you an emotional high that other things don’t, which is why I feel women love them so much.”

Bloomingdale loved her soft suede Sexy Thing bootie — Aquazurra’s debut shoe — so much that she practically lived in them, calling them her “fashion week-shoe” for being able to attend several shows for 12 hours straight and return home after feeling just fine.

This season though, Aquazzura presents Pop Jungle, a collection inspired by a mash-up of pop culture references ranging from Pharrell Williams’ catchy beats to the travels of Yves Saint Laurent muse Loulou de la Falaise and the artistic inclinations of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Keith Haring. Among the showstoppers are tasselled leather pumps, strappy colour-blocked heels, and espadrilles with vibrant Mochila textiles hand-woven by women of the indigenous South American tribe, Wayuu.

“Shoes need to transform you. When you try on a beautiful pair of shoes, you need to feel like Cinderella,” he says.