Summer is a time for experimentation and colour and a favourite stop of ours is Levels Shoe District in the Dubai Mall. Among the fresh, vivacious talent are, Edgardo Osorio of Aquazzura and Alessandra Lanvin of Aperlai, two of footwear’s hottest designers. The former takes a spirited approach to style and the latter a soft, sensual one, but with each just as stunning a choice for the summer sun as the other we talk to them about art, inspiration and lucky pineapples.
Edgardo Osorio, Aquazzura
Your brand emblem is a pineapple, why?
The gold pineapple is a symbol of good luck, it attracts good fortune. I love the thought of wearing a lucky charm on your foot everyday!
Other than lucky, how would you sum up your brand?
It’s a very simple concept; beautifully made comfortable shoes that allow women to be more beautiful and sexy. Oscar de La Renta once said that you should walk like you have three men behind you. When you wear my shoes, you should have five men behind you!
Who is the woman wearing your shoes?
She’s a modern woman who probably has a busy and active life and still wants to look beautiful at anytime of the day, so I make sure my shoes are also comfortable. I think all women, no matter what age they are, want to look young and beautiful and I try to address this need.
Where does colour fall into this idea?
I love colour, life is in colour! I think a beautiful emerald or electric blue shoe can make the most simple outfit look amazing.
Your SS14 collection is bursting with colour, but what else were you inspired by?
It started with snake images from Guido Mocafico and then it developed into a story of the desert and jungle. We took inspiration from snakes of the African jungle to develop the colour and prints and then we took the colour palette of the desert nudes, sandy hues and metallic. I wanted to create a tribal look but in a very sophisticated and urban way.
You’ve lived in many places throughout your life, does this play a role in your design inspiration?
I was born in Cartagena, raised between Miami and London and have lived in Florence for the past nine years – Aquazzura mixes all of these elements. It’s an Italian style but with a Latin flair and an American ease. As a Latino man, I like to make women look sexy and beautiful but never ever Vulgar.
How does it make you feel to be tipped as the new hottest shoe designer?
Very honoured since they’re many talented designers out there. In less than three years we’re already sold in 38 countries around the world and this makes us feel very proud.
One of your points of sales is Levels Shoe District, what attracted you to it?
Quite simply, it’s the best place to shop for shoes in the world. If you love shoes, Levels is your shoe heaven!
Alessandra Lanvin, Aperlai
The name Aperlai is fast becoming synonymous with style and elegance. What’s the idea behind it?
It takes its name from the ancient Lycien city in Turkey, a 20 minute boat ride away from my family home where lies a nest of happy memories and summer feats.
A mix of nature and feminity often takes place in your designs. Was that inspired by your family home in Turkey and the nature found there?
That’s more about the Aperlai DNA – graphic and pure lines, essential sophistication, strong design, yet feminine.
What does this DNA bring to the woman?
Shoes have the power of expressing a woman’s state of mind or feelings, without saying a word.
Asides from expression, what does a woman want her shoes to be today?
Sexy, sophisticated, modern, comfortable and with that “je ne sais pas quoi” that makes you feel confident!
Where does the Middle Eastern woman come into this?
I think that the women of the region are very sophisticated and at times they pay even more attention to their style choices than Europeans. Plus it’s always sunny so they look for more colour choices!
Is this why your relationship with Levels Shoe District came about?
Yes, we share the same vision and unique approach – they understand the relationship women have with their shoes and they present them with that in mind, as jewels, sculptures, unique artefacts. We loved their project from the start.
You mention sculptures and artefacts, does art make its way into your designs?
The world of art has the biggest influence on Aperlai designs and is the base of the creations. Surrealist iconic elements appeared for the AW12 collection; SS13 was the turn of Amerindian Art; the palettes of Picasso and Mondrian were proposed for AW13, and Ettore Sottsass inspired SS14 and AW14 collections.
Which modern day materials do you use to evoke this historical beauty?
New technical fabrics like PVC, vinyl and rubber are mixed with luxury and exotic fabrics. Contrasts are always interesting and add a fresh touch.
Before becoming a shoe designer you were a head-hunter in the luxury industry, what do luxury and fashion today mean to you?
To me they mean timeless elegance, craftsmanship, unique design and quality.