In the shoe world, beauty and comfort do not always go together.
But for Colombian shoe designer Edgardo Osorio (photo), one does not exist without the other.
The 29-year-old founder and designer of shoe label Aquazzura has successfully fused these two characteristics into strappy, sexy heels that one will have no problems dancing the night away in.
In a short span of 31/2 years, the Florence-based label has built up a following of celebrities, models and fashion It girls, and the shoes are sold in top stores such as Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Browns. The label's first stand-alone store opened in Florence last year and a second one is due to open in London later this year.
"I remember going to twelve weddings one summer and girls would start taking off their shoes before they even started dancing, which was kind of depressing. If you have to take off your shoes, it means they're not comfortable," says Osorio, on why he set out to make comfortable and beautiful shoes.
"Comfort used to be a dirty word that designers didn't like; a word that you would associate with orthopaedic shoes," he adds.
With ten years of experience designing shoes at Salvatore Ferragamo, Sigerson Morrison, Rene Caovilla and Roberto Cavalli, he launched Aquazzura in 2011.
In town two weeks ago to launch his spring/summer 2015 collection at On Pedder, the charming designer with movie star good looks spoke about comfort with fervour.
Many of his designs are crafted from what he calls "cashmere suede", which moulds to the shape of the feet. Osorio adds that colours also appear more vibrant on suede.
The label also has sandals, heels and flats that are made of leather.
Shoes are constructed in such a way that the weight of the foot is spread evenly among the ball, arch and heel.
For added comfort, each pair has a thin layer of memory foam that provides cushioning.
In Singapore, Aquazzura is carried at On Pedder; prices range from $650 to $990. They are also available online at LaPrendo and Net-A-Porter.
FOR THE REGULAR WOMAN
Osorio's fascination with shoes started at a young age, as a result of growing up with a mother and aunt who were shoe fanatics.
"My mother always wore high heels, even at home. I loved spending time in her shoe closet and going shoe shopping with her," says Osorio, who grew up in Colombia and Miami. He dropped out of the accessories design programme at the London College of Fashion when a job offer from Salvatore Ferragamo came along.
Although his shoes have been seen on the feet of actresses, such as Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Bosworth, seeing his creations on regular women excites him most.
He says that he takes screenshots of women seen wearing his shoes on Instagram, for inspiration.
"They love it enough to buy it with their own money, and to style it in a way that is their own," says Osorio, who is single.
Sporting a pair of loafers from Car Shoe, Osorio plans on designing men's shoes and adding handbags to his label some day.
For now, he is firmly focused on building a label that has something for every moment of a woman's day - "from red carpet to skiing and everything in between".
His upcoming fall/winter collection features new styles, such as Timberland-inspired looks and thigh-high boots.
Inside every Aquazzura shoe box is an inscription that reads: "If the shoe fits, buy them in every colour."
One feels egged on to buy another pair.
"A woman can have 1,000 pairs of shoes, but she'll always wear the same three or four pairs - I want my designs to be those shoes that women live in."
Shoe designer Edgardo Osorio on some of the iconic Aquazzura shoes
Most women think that this cage-style flat will visually cut their legs off, but I've left a gap in the front of the foot that stretches up to the ankles, which provides an optical illusion of thinness.
There aren't many people creating chic flats. These are flats that you can wear, which are as sexy as heels.
Espadrilles are new to the brand. These were inspired by Mochila bags that are hand-woven by the indigenous Wayuu tribe in Colombia. The fabric of this pair was also woven by the tribal people from the Wayuu tribe. Each pair takes them about a day to weave. It's wonderful to be able to take something ethnic and make it modern.
This was the first shoe I ever designed. I was sitting by the pool and sketching, playing around with silhouettes; it was very organic. I love that it is a very covered shoe, but you still see a little bit of skin.
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I was inspired by Loulou de la Falaise, a muse of Yves Saint Laurent, who was always piling on bangles. I love this idea of wearing bangles on your ankles.
Women are usually afraid of wearing cuffs on the ankles because it can make legs look shorter, but the beautiful thing here is that the straps around the ankle are so thin and gold that they don't cut off the legs visually.