As Aquazzura celebrates 10 years, its co-founders reflect on the remarkable women – including Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece and Denmark – who have contributed to its success.
Dress, Max Mara; shoes, Aquazzura. March 2022, Vogue Arabia. Photo: Nima Benati
Edgardo Osorio and Ricardo Figueiredo, co-founders of luxury footwear brand Aquazzura, are in West Hollywood, travelling around Southern California in their usual Slim Aarons-eque flair. They are scouting vintage shops in Melrose and taking in the beauty of the city’s contemporary art scene. It’s a long way from the Colombian seaside city of Cartagena, where Osorio was born. Osorio’s destiny was sealed in childhood with one of his first sketches. “My mom showed me a photo album the other day and my first drawing as a baby was a sketch in crayons or colored pencils, and it looks like a scribbled shoe or an Alexander McQueen concoction. We couldn’t believe it,” he laughs. Little did he know that the shoe brand he runs with Figueiredo, which turns 10 this year, would one day be celebrated among European and Middle Eastern royal and jet-set circles.
Dress, Atelier Eme; shoes, Aquazurra. March 2022, Vogue Arabia. Photo: Nima Benati
“This all works because Ricardo and I have a similar vision for our company,” Osorio says. “I don’t know how people do it alone. It’s been scary to start a company and keep it afloat, but it’s been wonderful to know there is someone who’s there for you and knows what you are going through,” he continues, adding that he found solace during the pandemic in Venice, restoring their 15th century Palazzo Corner Spinelli to all its splendor, with its views of the Grand Canal.
In the public eye, Osorio, 36, is often flanked by models or friends who could be models – like Silvia Paulon, Racil Chalhoub, Naty Abascal, and Sheikha Raya Al-Khalifa – off the coast of Noto, Sicily, or by a pool in Mustique, or in Venice. These women have helped Osorio architect the Aquazzura joie de vivre lifestyle. He will also be the first person to tell you that social media is one thing and real life is another. “My job is to make people smile,” he says. “We’re not saving lives, but we’re making people feel their best, whether it’s their first date, wedding day, or just their first day at work.” For this shoot, Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece and Denmark, showcases her friend’s work, saying, “Edgardo is an amazing shoe artist and designer. His shoes could turn a simple skinny denim and a white shirt into a fashion look. He adds just the right number of accents to a shoe without it being too much or too little.”
Dress, Dolce & Gabbana; shoes, Aquazzura. March 2022, Vogue Arabia. Photo: Nima Benati
The son of an interior designer and real estate developer, as a child Osorio spent his time creating Lego homes enhanced with vintage toy cars. He started working at 14 for a Barranquilla-based designer, sketching accessories out of a factory. Aware of his drive, his parents also sent him to a summer school program at Central Saint Martins in London that same year. Somewhat of a prodigy, Osorio went on to consult at Salvatore Ferragamo at 19, while studying at Polimoda Fashion School in Florence. He then went to work at Roberto Cavalli, where he was introduced to the business of VIP fashion and the supermodel set, eventually collaborating with Claudia Schiffer on a capsule collection in 2017. Meanwhile, in Portugal, Figueiredo was gaining marketing experience as he built his own PR company, representing Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Cartier. The pair launched Aquazzura in 2011, with Osorio’s father financing their first line of 1 500 shoes. The collection was unfurled in a friend’s living room in Soho. “My parents believed in me. They’ve been my biggest champions,” states the designer. “People don’t see the sacrifice. They don’t know how hard it has been to run a company with no financial backing from anyone.”
Dress, Valentino; shoes, Aquazzura. March 2022, Vogue Arabia. Photo: Nima Benati
Building solid relationships has not only been key to their success but their friendships have also architected the persona of the Aquazzura woman – “strong, hard-working, sexy one minute and bohemian the next,” remarks Osorio. “Arab women, for example, always want to look their best and they are not afraid to take risks. They love accessories and they love color.” Osorio met Lebanese designer Racil Chalhoub on a dance floor during Paris fashion week. The two became friends and later collaborated on a “matchimalist” collection in 2019. “Edgardo will not only be remembered as one of the most talented designers of his generation,” remarks Chalhoub, “but also for being the kindest and most wonderful happy soul in the fashion industry.”
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wearing Aquazzura
One of the first to collaborate with Aquazzura was model Poppy Delevingne in 2015. “I love that every collection tells a story. There is always a little bit of a sense of humor that I think sets them apart as a brand,” Delevingne says. Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Emma Watson were also early fans. After the first season was unveiled, Watson sent her credit card details along with a note explaining how she couldn’t find the shoes anywhere. The duchess wore Aquazzura for her engagement announcement and Osorio was later invited to Kensington Palace to meet her in preparation for one of the most historic weddings in modern history. “It was huge to be part of that event as a Colombian and the only non-English designer,” he shares. Recent star sightings include Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge,who wore the gold Fenix pump to the premiere of No Time to Die. Lady Gaga was also spotted wearing Aquazzura pumps in House of Gucci, much to Osorio’s shock and awe. “I was screaming out loud in a movie theater in Chelsea in New York,” he shares. “The film zooms in and you see our red suede pumps and our gold pineapple.” The pineapple emblem is not only a salute to Osorio’s Latin American roots, it’s also a symbol he associates with hospitality, beauty, and good fortune.
Sarah Jessica Parker wearing Aquazzura in And Just Like That…
Figueiredo, who has a master’s in management and economics, directs the web business, e-commerce, marketing, and communications. Together the two steer the company’s finances. “I never do interviews,” Figueiredo says. “I’m the invisible part of the company. We share the same love for beauty. We complement each other and sometimes I am the person who gives input and feedback like ‘I don’t like the proportion of that heel.’” Headquartered at Florence’s Palazzo Corsini, the Aquazzura name has also been fortified by the rich artisan heartlands and the craftsmen who work in and around the cradle of the Renaissance. Its boutiques are in key luxury hubs like Florence, London, New York, Miami, Dubai, Doha, Paris, Milan, Sāo Paolo, Capri, and soon Madrid. With all the store openings, Osorio’s love of interiors comes to the fore. His Dubai Mall location pays homage to the beauty of regional architecture with a marble facade and a modern graphic touch that’s typical of the brand. In December, Aquazzura unveiled a summery pop-up shop inside Level Shoes, filled with inviting canopied couches and striped vases to accompany the SS22 capsule collection.
Dress, Delcore; shoes, Aquazurra. March 2022, Vogue Arabia. Photo: Nima Benati
Together, the co-founders are building an empire reminiscent of famous teams like Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent. Their most recent venture, a jewelry line, was a key part of the company’s plans to become a 360-degree lifestyle brand. The aesthetic core is built on Osorio’s wistful yet constant style that can be easily translated into everything from shoes to wallpaper, kitchens, and porcelain tablescapes. Aquazzura also collaborated with de Gournay on a shoe collection in 2017 and is expected to launch Aquazzura Casa, produced with the creative directionof Fiona Leahy, in June at Milan’s Design Week. The brand already produces kitchens with Florence’s boutique kitchen atelier Officine Gullo, which originally crafted a custom-made turquoise kitchen for their Venetian home.
Osorio’s special sketch for Vogue Arabia’s 5th anniversary. March 2022, Vogue Arabia. Photo: Nima Benati
Figueiredo vows that Aquazzura – and the world they have created – is currently not for sale. “We’ve received many offers from big groups but we still have a lot of things to do, like the launch of Aquazzura Casa, and we want to dedicate ourselves to doing it in our own beautiful way,” Figueiredo shares. “We also want to do men’s, bags, and many other projects.” In a rapidly evolving fashion landscape, where stars fade just as fast as they are born, Aquazzura is a lot like the women who are emboldened by its 105mm stiletto heels: the stuff legends are made of.
Read Next: Aquazzura’s Footwear Designer Edgardo Osorio Interviews Spanish Muse Naty Abascal on Her Resplendent Life
Originally published in the March 2022 issue of Vogue Arabia
Style: Federica CarnevaliHair: Leon Gorman at Blend Management using Leon Gorman Hair CareMakeup: Luca Cianciolo at Blend ManagementNails: Annarel Innocente at Blend ManagementProduction: Kitten ProductionModel: Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece and Denmark
As Aquazzura celebrates 10 years, its co-founders reflect on the remarkable women – including Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece and Denmark – who have contributed to its success.
Aquazzura’s Footwear Designer Edgardo Osorio Interviews Spanish Muse Naty Abascal on Her Resplendent Life
A new tome celebrates the resplendent life of one of the world’s most enigmatic women, Spanish muse Naty Abascal.
Dress, Giambattista Valli Haute Couture; earrings, ring, Bulgari. Photographed by Félix Valiente for Vogue Arabia
Born Natividad Abascaly Romero-Toro, in Seville, Spain, in 1943, the young “Naty,” as she came to be called, would grow into one of the most striking women in the world. With large almond-shaped eyes and aquiline nose, she would become a muse to Valentino Garavani and Oscar de la Renta.
She married into royalty, becoming la duchessa upon her union with the Duke of Feria and Marquis of Villalba. Perhaps it is Abascal’s infectious curiosity and optimism that have paved the way for a life that is as colorful and vibrant as her hometown. “The smell of the orange trees, its streets, churches, and palaces… Sevilla gives me strength and focus,” she waxes poetic. From the Andalusian city, Abascal ventured out into the world, leaving her indelible mark on fashion’s most revered. Now, a new book from Rizzoli, Naty Abascal: The Eternal Muse Inspiring Fashion Designers, highlights an exhibition organized by Museo Jumex in Mexico City called Naty Abascal and Fashion!, featuring her treasure trove of garments and memories with contributions by Valentino Garavani, Christian Lacroix, and Suzy Menkes, and photographs by Lord Snowdon, Richard Avedon, Peter Beard, and Norman Parkinson, and more. Garavani wrote to editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut ahead of this shoot, photographed in Madrid, “Naty is an incredibly joyful person. Always ready to smile and have a good time. She brings this same joie de vivre to the way she wears a dress; she wants to enjoy her clothes, not be a victim of them. This is something every woman should know in her choices and not be wearing clothes they don’t enjoy.”
Dress, Schiaparelli Haute Couture; shoes, Roger Vivier; necklace, rings, earrings, bracelets, Chaumet. Photographed by Félix Valiente for Vogue Arabia
Fashion for Abascal has seemingly been one magnificent revelation to another, stemming from key encounters. Having met almost 10 years ago at Milan’s Palazzo Morando, Edgardo Osorio and Abascal had, as she recalls, “an immediate connection.” She adds, “We were talking non-stop and sharing things and ideas as if we had been friends for a lifetime. It was really love at first sight.” In 2016, the two paired up to offer a six-piece capsule shoe and boot collection with a gypsy aesthetic. Now, the luxury footwear designer behind Aquazzura delves further into Abascal’s extraordinary life.
Naty Abascal in New York, 1966. Photo: Naty Absacal Archive. Courtesy of Alexius Ruspoli, Mario Sierra
Edgardo Osorio: Describe how you were as a child.Naty Abascal: A very happy one! Eleven brothers and sisters, can you imagine? Our home was a non-stop holiday. A happy family, all united and supportive.
You were discovered in New York with your twin sister, and then Richard Avedon photographed you in Ibiza. What moment do you regard as career defining?Most probably, it was the time I lived in New York. We were invited by the Spanish designer Elio Berhanyer to show his collection during the 1964 New York’s World Fair. The New York Times mentioned in a chronicle that a model from Spain was the fastest model in the world. They were wondering how I could manage to change clothes so fast… because I was on the runway virtually all the time. What they didn’t know was that there were two of us – my twin sister and I. That’s why we were always walking the runway! Avedon felt curious, he wanted to meet and decided to photograph the two of us for a fashion spread that Elizabeth Taylor and Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya were also a part of. That shoot sealed my fate with the fashion world forever.
Dress, vintage earrings, Valentino. Photographed by Félix Valiente for Vogue Arabia
One of the strongest images I have of you is of your arrival at my 30th birthday in Florence. You were so incredible! What are some of your favorite memories of our friendship?Everything. We have so many things in common. We love life, we are passionate, curious, and interested about so many things. But let’s go back to your fabulous two-night-long Bal Masqué. I think those evenings will go down in history because they were so unique, so splendid. It seemed as if we were at the Palazzo Labia in Venice, when Charlie de Beistegui gave what has been called “the ball of the century” back in 1951. The first night the theme you chose was “wild” and wild we were! All covered in the most exotic animal prints (fake of course!) and the most incredibly extravagant hats and dresses. It was a night to remember. But, the second night – oh my! The theme was “surrealism” and surreal was everything that evening, including me. I was wearing an out-of-this-world Giambattista Valli haute couture dress, so immense that I had to arrive in a horse-drawn carriage. My head was covered with hundreds of eyes, floating in a sea of fringes, all in white. A dream come true.
Dress Zuhair Murad Haute Couture; shoes, Aquazzura; vintage earrings, ring, Naty Abascal’s own. Photographed by Félix Valiente for Vogue Arabia
You’ve been in the limelight for decades. What has been your biggest challenge?To understand how to keep my own values in an ever-changing world. Fashion is a tough industry that never forgives and forgets very quickly. It is important to know when it is time to move onto the next chapter.
You returned to the runway in the 1980s; had you missed it? Or do you prefer being a stylist and muse?Once you have tried it, the runway is something that never abandons. Obviously, when I returned, it was for a special occasion – the first show of Carolina Herrera. Now, we are living in an interesting moment, because designers have understood that not only teenagers or anonymous models in their early twenties can represent the variety of women in the world. More and more often, they are using people of different ages to show their creations. One example is this shoot for Vogue Arabia, to celebrate the launch of my book.
Naty Abascal with Oscar De La Renta, Photographed by Alexius Ruspoli- Rodriguez, New York, 1968. Photo: Naty Absacal Archive. Courtesy of Alexius Ruspoli, Mario Sierra
On the topic of your book, which are your favorite pieces in the exhibit?First of all, this exhibit has been the most generous gift of my friend Eugenio López, founder of the Museo Jumex de Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City. The whole process has been very personal. I would dare to say… intimate. Introspective. In some cases, these pieces have been with me for decades. It is difficult to choose, but I would say that there is a simple, short shirt- dress in yellow silk, with embroideries at the hem, that I am very fond of. It is from Oscar de la Renta. We used to go dancing most nights during the week. That dress has danced more than many other people in their lifetime. There is also an evening dress from Valentino. Black. Pure. What makes that outfit so special is the embroidered jacket that completes the look. It is entirely embroidered to recreate a Basquiat painting. But really, I do love all of them.
Valentino Garavani, Abascal, and Giancarlo Giammetti in Italy. Photo: Naty Absacal Archive. Courtesy of Alexius Ruspoli, Mario Sierra
As Christian Lacroix mentions about you in your book, along with the term “style,” the most important word in reference to you is “passion!” What are you passionate about nowadays?The same things as when I was younger: life. I am passionate about life. I am curious like a child, and everything interests me. This pandemic, though, has made me think once again about how important our homes are. How fundamental it is to feel at home, surrounded by harmonious things that make our lives more pleasant and beautiful.
What – in your life and career – are you proudest of?Everything. All that I have done is part of my learning curve in life. And let’s not forget the mistakes because they are part of life’s lessons. I don’t renounce or complain about anything. My sons, though, are who I do feel particularly proud of. They had challenging lives when they were younger but have navigated through difficult times with intelligence, resilience, discretion, and good manners. I am very proud of them.
Abascal with Edgardo Osorio. Photo: Naty Absacal Archive. Courtesy of Alexius Ruspoli, Mario Sierra
What do you compulsively hold onto?Beautiful things. I cannot resist the temptation of buying unique, rare objects, clothes, accessories, pieces for my homes… Whether they are unique or just simple and humble ones found in a flea market. What is important is that they excite me and stimulate my curiosity.
What do you think about in the moments before you fall asleep?How happy and blessed I am for having a life full of health, friends, work, and a beautiful family. Life is a miracle; something we cannot take for granted. Something we have to be grateful for, every minute of our lives.
What is good taste, to you? The opposite to obvious in-your-face pretentiousness. But good taste is something that cannot be defined so easily. What is good taste for me is bad for others. What is important in life is that what we do is coherent with our lifestyle and our personality. One cannot be wrong when following one’s own instinct.
Dress, Giambattista Valli Haute Couture; earrings, rings, Bulgari. Photographed by Félix Valiente for Vogue Arabia
When you walk into your wardrobe in the morning, do you ever feel uninspired? How do you decide on a look? The truth? I don’t think twice. I rarely have doubts, and not because I have given serious thought about what to wear. It is something that happens in a spontaneous way. Color is important for me. Maybe one morning I am obsessed with a color – red, for instance. I choose an impactful accessory, maybe a scarf, or printed pants… and then I start adding things. That way, I can change for a lunch, a day in the studio working, or a dinner party in the evening. The key is layers. One never knows what is going to happen, so it is important to be ready for any last-minute surprise.
What is it about an item of clothing that draws you to it? What catches your eye and makes you want to wear something? Well, you know me very well and you also know how eclectic I am with my taste regarding everything in life. From fashion to history or architecture, all interests me. But if we talk about fashion, a perfect white shirt is a staple in my wardrobe, and I am most confident wearing one of those, from morning to evening.
Jacket, dress, Zuhair Murad Haute Couture; hat, Mariana Barturen; vintage earrings, ring, Naty Abascal’s own. Photographed by Félix Valiente for Vogue Arabia
Throughout your life and career, you were friend and muse to many designers. What did you enjoy most about working with so many incredible designers? Some of them were not only friends but also mentors and teachers. I have learned many things from people like Oscar de la Renta, Valentino Garavani, Veronica Etro, and many others that I can consider, above all, my friends. Working with such talented people is a rare privilege. Everything they touch becomes special, it is their vision. Working so closely with them gives you a privileged access to what is in their minds, and how they translate an idea into something wearable. That is fascinating.
What is something about style that no one ever asks you but you would love to talk about? Manners. People talk about other people, about trends, fashion, events… but it seems that manners are taboo today. Manners, as well as personal style, are probably the most effective test to know somebody.
You’ve worked with great designers, photographers, artists… What do the world’s most creative people have in common? Fantasy. No restrictions. Freedom. Culture. Exquisite manners and curiosity.Read Next: Designers of Three Arab Brands and Their Artistic Muses on Inspiring Each Other’s Creativity
Originally published in the May 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia
From Dolce & Gabbana to Aquazzura, Top International Designers Pay Homage to the Beauty of Saudi Arabia
From the vivid patterns of Aseer to the lush greenery of the Al-Ahsa Oasis, Saudi Arabia is teeming with vibrant colors, culture, and heritage. Vogue Arabia partnered with the Saudi Tourism Authority in our special fourth anniversary issue, the Creativity Issue, and we enlisted the world’s most celebrated brands to pay homage to just that. Envisioning the Kingdom and some of its key landscapes through their artistic lens, the designers behind Dolce & Gabbana, Aquazzura, Giuseppe Zanotti, and Ashi Studio dreamt up bespoke sketches and illustrations exclusively for Vogue Arabia.
Read on below to find out how the diverse beauty of Saudi Arabia became a source of inspiration for these designers.
Left: Roses of Taif. Right: Art by Dolce & Gabbana
“Among all the flowers, the rose is the most elegant and romantic; synonymous with charm. We love the bold yet refined image that the rose symbolizes and we like to tell it through our collections. Taif, the city of roses, inspired us to create this set of elements that is a tribute to the beauty and values we would like to share.”– Dolce & Gabbana
Photo: Domen / Van De Velde
Left: Patterns of Aseer. Right: Sketch by Edgardo Osorio
“The colors and patterns of Aseer are so modern and beautifully upbeat, they are exactly what I want to see right now. I loved mixing the floral arrangements with the graphic patterns in multicolor for a tribal-pop effect.”– Edgardo Osorio, Creative director of Aquazzura
Edgardo Osorio. Photo: Supplied
Inspiration: Al-Ahsa Oasis
Above: Al-Ahsa Oasis. Below: Sketch by Giuseppe Zanotti
“Al-Ahsa, the largest oasis in the world… Its greatness is just breathtaking. Places like this, an expression of the wonder of nature, are a great source of inspiration for me and remind me of how important it is to treasure and preserve them.”– Giuseppe Zanotti, President and creative director of Giuseppe Zanotti Spa
Giuseppe Zanotti. Photo: Supplied
Inspiration: Al Ula
Left: Al Ula. Right: Sketch by Ashi
“This look emulates the architectural grandeur, scale, and voluptuous curves of Al Ula. A walled city located along the road that carried the world’s treasures, from silk to spices, Al Ula has become a source of inspiration for the Kingdom; a timeless ambassador of the country’s culture, art, innovation, and talent, nestled in the desert.”– Ashi, couture designer
Ashi. Photo: Tom Munro
Read Next: The Mother Of Art: Meet Safeya Binzagr The Pioneer of Saudi’s Fine Art Movement