The Middle East is awash with emerging fashion designers from every end of the spectrum, but to find a specialized accessories designer – a diamond in the rough, if you will – the likes of Andrea Wazen, is a breath of fresh air. At just 24 years old, Wazen has launched her eponymous footwear company and opened a beautiful boutique in the center of Beirut. Originally from Lebanon, Wazen spent time studying fashion at the prestigious Istituto Marangoni in Paris before moving to London to work with luxury powerhouses Christian Louboutin, Rupert Sanderson, and Elie Saab. Savoir Flair sat for an intimate chat with Wazen to discuss the new footwear brand, her design process, and more.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself – where and what you studied, and what you were doing before you launched Andrea Wazen Shoes?
I studied fashion design at Istituto Marangoni in Paris, and it was then that I discovered my love for leather and my desire to specialize in shoes. After I graduated, I went on to work for Rupert Sanderson in London in the design department. Following that experience, I worked for Christian Louboutin in London in the marketing and PR department. I then finally felt ready and came back to Beirut to start my own business, Andrea Wazen.
What made you become a luxury footwear designer?
I would say the love of working with high quality leather and raw materials. I have always had a personal love affair with footwear. However, I have always been very picky in choosing the right pair of shoes for myself. When choosing the perfect pair for myself, the most important is the cut of the shoe, so building my own label was mostly based on making the perfect shoes based on what I believed to be the ‘perfect cut’, using luxurious and high quality materials.
Can you tell us about the inception of the brand – how and when did it all start? What was the initial idea behind it?
It all started about two years ago when I knew that I wanted to start a footwear brand, but wasn’t sure what to specialize in and how to even begin. Originally, I wanted to design bridal shoes, given that it is very difficult to find nice and comfortable bridal shoes. Then the ideas started flowing until I finally decided to create my own luxury shoe brand with a segment on customized bridal shoes.
Tell us about the designs of your shoes. What are they inspired by?
My shoes are very classic but with an edgy aspect. They are mostly inspired by architecture and silhouettes.
How would you describe the aesthetic of Andrea Wazen?
Classy, elegant, and with distinct personality.
What inspires you when you are designing?
I really get inspired by everything around me.
Where are your shoes made and what materials do you use?
My shoes are made in Beirut, and all of my raw materials are imported from Italy, so they are of the highest quality. The materials I use are leather and fabric – I always tend to use some fabric in my designs as I like to incorporate different materials together.
Describe your design process, from A to Z, from when a pair of shoes is first conceptualized to their arrival in a boutique.
The whole process begins with an idea, a concept and a heel height. I start doodling until I find the perfect shape and silhouette. I then transfer my two-dimensional drawing to an actual shoe sole, where it takes on a three-dimensional form. With the right colors and right choice of materials, this drawing is made into an actual shoe while going through the whole factory process, (patternmaking, cutting, assembly, etc.). I then try the shoe on and fix all of the little details until it becomes the way I had imagined it in the first place. The shoe then goes back into the factory, where the artisans work on it again, but this time, to perfection. The shoes are then packed, sent to the boutique, and displayed for retail.
Do you offer bespoke services?
Yes, of course we do! We offer a bridal shoe bespoke service, where I meet with the bride and we brainstorm together and sketch her dream wedding shoe, along with its material shape and details. Our bespoke service is also offered for other occasions or simply if the client wants a specific fit or color.
What sets you apart from other footwear designers in the region?
I would say nice shapes, and good quality!
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I design a lot of my shoes on napkins whenever I feel inspired.
If you weren’t a shoe designer, what would you be doing right now?
I have absolutely no idea! I cannot imagine myself doing anything else!
Where is Andrea Wazen currently stocked?
Andrea Wazen is currently stocked in Beirut at our flagship boutique in Mar Mikhael.
What is next for Andrea Wazen?
So much! I prefer to keep your readers excited.
Watch the video below for a look into the making of Andrea Wazen Shoes.
Click through the gallery below to see some of latest designs from Andrea Wazen.
Photos and Video: Courtesy of Andrea Wazen