Inside Aquazzura’s glamorous boutique at The Dubai Mall, behind gilded rows of sexy heels and elegant mixed-print footwear, we are waiting for the man of the hour, Edgardo Osorio. But as soon as he arrives, with a twinkle in his eye and and sporting a navy-blue number that is impeccably tailored, he is whisked away. Pardon the interruption, but a client has just purchased a pair of Aquazurra shoes and requested that Osorio sign them. We are left to wonder how often a footwear designer is asked to autograph their creations, and conclude the following: almost never.
You see, Osorio is a special case, a celebrity in his own right – this is obviously owed to good looks, an impeccable pedigree, and the warmth of someone who really cares about the people in his orbit. Oh, and his absolutely fabulous shoes have quite a bit to do with his popularity as well. The designer turns his full attention to the client in question, and she happily chats with him in Italian. Yes, he is Colombian, but he has made Italy his home and resides in a stunning apartment in Florence, where his flagship boutique is as well.
She then requests a photo for the ‘gram before dashing out of the store with a smile and a “Ciao, bello”, ostensibly off to brag to her friends about this chance encounter. Osorio’s good nature means he takes the interruption in stride. He is in high spirits, not only because he is in Dubai to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Aquazzura’s store opening at The Dubai Mall, but also because he has a very cool and very covetable collaboration with none other than Lebanese designer Racil Chalhoub hitting the shelves at that very moment. But we are also here for a different reason.
While alerted to the stunning Aquazzura x Racil collaboration, Savoir Flair also became privy to some very exciting information. The beloved designer is branching into – cue the drum roll – accessories, and we were tapped to break the news. What follows is our interview with Osorio, which focuses on his first foray into the accessories market with a travel-themed collection entitled ‘Escapes’, his collaboration with Racil, and his plans for the future. Listen in.
It’s so good to have you back in Dubai, and congratulations on Aquazzura’s one-year milestone. The Racil collaboration is gorgeous and, naturally, we’re curious about how it came about.
Racil is actually a very good friend of mine. We always go on holidays together, and we were on a boat trip last year, reminiscing on the 90s and head-to-toe print looks. That’s when we decided to do a collection together. I love her ready-to-wear, and thought she was a natural fit for an Aquazzura collaboration. So, there’s this term ‘matchamilism’ – which I love – that means you intentionally match your shoes to your bag and your belt, and I felt it was a very fresh and very summery idea.
Racil and I found this beautiful archive print from the 1970s at a silk-scarf factory in Como, and I liked the idea of mixing that with stripes and polka dots, which is very much Aquazzura. We took some iconic models like the ‘Deneuve’, as well as some of the newer models, and worked her ready-to-wear concepts around it.
I love how accessories take you to places.
Racil’s aesthetic is very masculine, while Aquazzura is very feminine. How did you combine these two views in the collection?
You always need a counterpoint. When you’re wearing a tuxedo or a pantsuit, you’ll elevate it with a very feminine pair of heels. Racil herself always wears really sexy shoes. For inspiration, we were looking at the different kinds of shoes that she would wear with her ready-to-wear or what she would pack to travel in the summer. I feel like the collection is very summery, very holiday-oriented.
As such close friends, did you ever disagree about the direction of the design?
Not at all! We had so much fun making this collection. As a male designer, I love working with women, getting a woman’s point of view, and having a woman’s touch in my collection. Working with Racil was quite easy – it was very organic.
Although we love your footwear designs so much already, we are also really excited to finally be getting Aquazzura accessories! I’m guessing that ‘Escapes’ is related to travel or jet-setting?
Absolutely. The idea for the collection started when I was in Capri, my favorite island – my favorite place on earth, really. See, I love the Amalfi Coast, and I also love how accessories take you to places. My favorite shoes are the kinds that take you on vacation in your mind with only one glance. I wanted that for the bags; I wanted people to look at them and be transported elsewhere else. I wanted to do something special for summer, something that is an escape to the beach or a spot that is wonderful and sunny. That is very much in Aquazzura’s DNA.
From the seed of an idea to executing the collection, what was the design process like?
I looked at designers who specialize in doing accessories for the summer. So, for the bags, we worked with Le Ninè, which does these fabulous basket bags. For the earrings, we worked with Rebecca de Ravenel, whose designs I love.
Did you experience any design difficulties in pivoting to accessories after doing footwear for so long?
I used to design all different kinds of accessories, so for me, it was nice to go back to it. I’ve always loved accessories, although I’ve been focused only on shoes for a long time. It feels like a natural step for me. I couldn’t wait!
The hardest part was deciding where to start, and what to start with, because I didn’t necessarily want the first foray to be a full collection of bags or a full collection of jewelry. I wanted it to be something that felt special, different, and very select. ‘Escapes’ is only sold in our boutiques worldwide, so distribution is very limited. Online, it will only be on Net-a-Porter. Everything is limited-edition, handmade in Italy, and also hand-embroidered in Italy, which is quite rare.
Nowadays, there are no trends because everything is a trend and nothing is a trend.
The bags are amazing, but they’re being referred to as beach bags. I don’t think I’d wear them to the beach, though – they’re too beautiful and I wouldn’t want them to get sandy.
[laughs] That’s true, especially in the case of the mini style. For me, this is a bag that suggests the beach, but you would actually carry it out and about in the summer. You’d consider it a city bag. The small one is more for an evening dinner, but I think you could carry the big bag to the beach as it’s quite sturdy. Overall, I wanted them to feel quite precious, which is why I mixed crystals against raffia and added the beautiful silk tassels.
They’re very of-the-moment.
Right, because I think there’s a return to glamour in the air right now. After so much street style – which is a part of everyday life – I like that there is a return to dressed-up elegance. You see people dressing up again, even if they’re choosing pieces that are easy to wear. They are opting for glamour. It’s nice to feel and look your best.
How have fashion tastes evolved since you first launched Aquazzura in 2011?
They have changed to an incredible degree, and so fast. It’s moving at the speed of light! Even this idea of trends, there used to be a trend moment and you’d see everyone wearing it – everyone. Nowadays, there are no trends because everything is a trend and nothing is a trend. It can be a trend one day, and it’s over the next day because of Instagram. People get tired of things quickly because they see them too often.
Back when I started, the fashion world revolved around actresses and supermodels. Now, it’s about real people. I’ve also seen that the way people shop has completely changed. They are more open-minded to try new things, to experiment, to mix colors and textures together. You see this a lot with accessories because they’re democratic, and they make trying new things easier.
You have a big fan in Meghan Markle. How did it feel to see her wearing your designs?
It was unbelievable. I had no idea she’d be wearing the shoes for the engagement announcement!
Dubai is like an adult Disneyland.
You didn’t know?
Not at all. I felt so honored, so blessed. But I also love seeing real women wearing my shoes. I love, for instance, going out to a restaurant and seeing a woman wearing my shoes, observing how she styles them. It’s such an incredible feeling. I love when women tag me on Instagram, and I get to go to her feed and scroll down to see who she is, what her life is like. It’s a cool way to get to know your clients. Who is she, what she likes, where she’s going – I like seeing her world.
What do you like about Dubai? What’s different about this market?
I love the sun, I love the beach – I’m Colombian, after all. Dubai is very relaxed in a way. Anywhere by the sea is more relaxed, but there’s still a big social scene and an amazing food scene here. The restaurant scene just keeps evolving. Dubai is like an adult Disneyland. I love coming back because I have many friends here, and I always have a great time. It’s also a very strong market for accessories. Even if you dress traditionally, your main focus is your accessories – you really go all out. You want to have a fun bag and a fun shoe, even a fun iPhone cover. You want everything to make a statement.
Do you have any expansion plans in the near future?
We want to expand our accessories and do a full-blown bags and small leather goods line next year. Men’s styles are also in the future, and we are looking to open more stores in Europe and Asia. We keep growing – it’s a good problem to have.
Discover the Aquazzura ‘Escapes’ collection in the gallery below.