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    Aquazzura’s Middle East expansion: Edgardo Osorio turns his attention to the region

    Imogen Clark

    The creative director sees it is a 'key market'

    They say you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes. No one knows this better than Edgardo Osorio, the co-founder and creative director of Aquazzura. His creations have graced the soles of Meghan Markle, Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, all of whom have hailed his designs as markers of contemporary prestige.

    With the West giving him their stamp of approval, the designer is focusing on catering to the Middle East. “We’re seeing this as a key market,” he confirms upon the opening of a second store in Dubai’s Galeries Lafayette to complement its pre-existing flagship in Dubai Mall earlier this year. Bahrain and Kuwait are next on his expansion list, with Doha, Jeddah and Riyadh all set to receive secondary locations. 

    “Last year was our biggest year, and we’re still seeing growth. So I’m excited to be here,” says Osorio. “We’re developing regional products and regional exclusives. We’re pushing the Middle East as a market – we really believe in it, and it’s been supportive since the beginning. It’s a place where I see enormous potential.” 

    Edgardo Osorio
    Edgardo Osorio. Image: Supplied
A pair of intricately designed white leather bags featuring laser-cut patterns by Aquazzura
    Summery daisy bags. Image: Supplied

    Aquazzura’s diversification doesn’t just lie in its global reach. Last year, the brand launched bags. 

    “It’s a growing category,” he explains, understanding the insatiable appetite consumers have for leatherwear. Epitomising the signature blend of Italian craftsmanship and understated playfulness, his permanent capsule of day and evening bags created a wave of enthusiasm, noting the Middle East as one of its most profitable areas. But when it comes to creating the next accessory, Osorio’s ability to anticipate and set trends is innate. 

    Born in Colombia and raised between London and Miami, the designer’s hybrid childhood built a tapestry of colour and culture that led him to begin interning at fashion companies since the age of 14 in his native country. 

    Two years later, he moved to London to study at the London College of Fashion before dropping out at 19 to consult at Ferragamo as a shoes and accessory designer. Deciding to hone in on his craft, he sought to become an industry expert by attending Polimoda in Florence. At 23, whilst completing his degree, he was made the head of shoes at Roberto Cavalli. 

    A glamorous high-heeled shoe with a striking lemon wedge design, embellished with sparkling rhinestones by Aquazzura.
    Citrus brights. Image: Supplied

    In 2011, Osorio decided to step out on his own and launch Aquazzura in his new homeland, Italy. He used their national language as inspiration in his branding – the word ‘Aquazzura’ translates to ‘blue waters’, an element that captured the designer when visiting the coast in Capri. Since then, he has reshaped the landscape of luxury footwear through comfortable yet elegant creations, but his vision for the future doesn’t only incorporate accessories. 

    Hoping to evolve the joie de vivre that Aquazzura evokes, Osorio is seeking to create a holistic label that crafts a 360 “Aquazzura lifestyle”. Laying the foundations of the next step, the first extension, Aquazzura Casa, was unveiled in 2022 at Milan Design Week. 

    Porcelain tableware, linens and glasses all adorned with the bold designs the brand is recognised for, with standalone shops in London’s Harrods and Bond Street, as well as Florence, welcoming the interior line. In 2024, Osorio will debut a bar in Rome equipped with the brand’s homeware – “the first of a larger expansion”. He confirms this is “a ticket into a lifestyle concept where we can open more of these kinds of cafés”. 

    Despite writing new narratives for his brand, Osorio still remains a shoe designer ready to expand Aquazzura’s offering. “We are in the experimental development stage for men’s shoes. I’m playing with samples and prototypes,” he confesses. “I want to take my time, but it is something I believe can be big for us.” 

    A pair of elegant Aquazzura flats made from blue denim fabric, adorned with decorative bows made of intricate beading.
    Parisina crystal ballet flats. Image: Supplied

    However, he doesn’t see this as an introduction of just one concept. “I want to do unisex as well,” he notes. “I think once, you make men’s [designs], it’s also nice to have something unisex.” 

    While change is inevitable, style has also evolved, favouring flats over heels. “In the past six months, there’s been a huge transition to more daywear, with lower heels, mid-heels and flats. Ballerinas are back – this used to be our biggest category,” highlights Osorio. “Over the past
    few years, it’s been a lot about the heel. It’s something our clients come to us for, because they know it’s comfortable.”

    Thriving off the ability to empower with every step and catering to the various requirements of his plethora of clients, Osorio is proud that Aquazzura has become a reliable brand “that we can dress for any occasion”. From footwear and bags to plates and napkins, the designer has solidified his status as a visionary tastemaker with his unwavering commitment to the modern woman.

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