An Insider Guide to Florence with Aquazzura's Edgardo Osorio
22 January, 2019
Every square inch of each of shoe designer Edgardo Osorio's retail spaces are bedecked in elegant souvenirs and specialist art - it is an experience is akin to walking into Osorio's own living room, we imagine. It is in Florence, in the historical Palazzo Corsini, that Aquazzura's headquarters - and the flagship store - are situated. The shoes - which can take up to 10 months to craft - are produced in a small factory within the city's confines.
Launching Aquazzura in 2011, at just 25-years old, the brand exploded in sync with Instagram. Good timing and social platforms aside, Aquazzura's exponential growth was due as much to Osorio's fantastical platform sandals (among other key designs) as any online craze.
Born in Colombia and raised between Miami and London, his creations are a cavalcade of reference points. Drawing inspiration from European luxury and tradition, while creating modern (and moderately comfortable) shoes, his signature styles include "Sexy Thing" booties, Belgravia and Christy flats. For a saunter around Florence, the designer recommends donning the Deneuve pump or the "Wild Fringe" sandals (which also double as a chic Florentine souvenir).
Striding through the cradle of the Renaissance, the fashion savant shows us around his favourite local haunts .
Why is Florence a great city for both work and play?
It's easy to get around, eat, shop and be inspired. For those who work in fashion accessories, like me, it's also the epicentre of the best artisans, factories and suppliers in the world.
Which is your favourite hotel to stay at?
In the summer, the Four Seasons for its incredible four-acre garden. I love to stay at the Portrait Suite, which is ideally located by the river and with a fantastic view of Ponte Vecchio.
Aside from menswear trade show Pitti, what other Florence-based events should we be adding to our diaries?
The Taste Fair. This gastronomic event brings the best of Italian food and wine together under one roof.
Each of your stores are unique in their design, curated in line with their location. What does the design of your Florence store (and workshop) say about the city?
Florence has some of the most architecturally beautiful stores in the world - many are housed inside centuries-old palaces. The shop in Florence was my first and happened purely by chance. I was lucky to be given access to open inside the historic Palazzo Corsini, a 17th-century palazzo on the edge of the Arno River. We discovered incredible frescoes on the ceiling of the boutique; the whole concept was mixing the past and the present. I want you to feel like you are walking into my living room when you step into the boutique.
Why are shoes such a covetable item?
Because they lift you, transform you. A great pair of shoes make you walk, move and feel in a different way. You wear a dress, but the shoe wears you… And let's not forget about Cinderella - a great pair of shoes can change your life.
Where are the best spots for shopping in Florence?
Lorenzo Villoresi for perfumes; Loretta Caponi for fine linens and pyjamas; Richard Ginori for amazing china; Farmacia Santa Maria Novella for beauty products.
Must-visit markets in the city...
I love to go to buy food and fine Italian products at the Mercato Centrale. They have amazing fruits, cheese, cold cuts and whatever else your heart desires.
For a taste of history head to...
Palazzo Vecchio and the old Medici palace.
What's the best way to explore the city?
On foot. Getting lost in Florence is a real treat as there is so much beauty to be discovered.
Where's good for lunch?
For a truly authentic Florentine experience head to Cammillo - it's where all locals go to eat.
And for a late dinner?
Where should we go for aperitivo?
In the summer I love the outdoor terrace of Hotel Continentale that overlooks Ponte Vecchio.
What key pieces do you always pack when travelling?
Dr Tim Golueke Royal Fern Illumination Serum, a navy cashmere sweater, my Common Projects white sneakers, a cashmere blanket and an eye mask.
Where should we explore beyond the city?
San Gimignano is a beautiful, medieval jewel. The town in the middle of Chianti has one of the best contemporary Italian art galleries, Galleria Continua, and they always have the most fantastic exhibitions.
Your best-selling taxi-to-table heels are…
The Temptation Crystal peep toe.
Choose two of your favourite shoes and tell us the best place to wear each…
The "Deneuve" pump on a date as it's the sexiest black pump, but still very chic. The "Wild Fringe" sandals are great to go dancing - ideally at a wedding.
What one thing should we bring back from Florence?
Culture and good memories.