‘I founded Aquazzura in 2011, as I felt surrounded by shoes that weren’t feminine and had chunky, extreme silhouettes. I wanted to return to a sophisticated femininity and elegance, but in a new way. With my designs, I try to enhance women’s natural beauty. I think all my collections are on trend, but without necessarily following trends. One of the reasons I decided to make comfort a priority in my designs is that I wanted women to be able to walk in my shoes all day and feel great. Now we cover all styles from flat sandals to boots, so the collections are wider than in the beginning.
‘Growing quickly as a brand has definitely been a challenge, but also very exciting. The hardest part was surely finding the right people who would take care of strategic roles around the world. Being born in Colombia – although I grew up between Miami and London – makes me live my life with a cheerful attitude that is reflected in my shoes. My designs are extremely feminine and I love vivid colours. I want my shoes to make women feel beautiful and have fun; I imagine women wearing them to a party, to dance the night away, or on holiday! All my shoes are very sophisticated and playful, and these traits – together with comfort and fit – represent the real spirit of the brand.
‘The Florence flagship opened in 2014 and is located on the same street as our headquarters, and both are housed in the historic Palazzo Corsini palace. When I first arrived in Florence I fell in love with the building and I can hardly believe my luck at securing space in such a gem. When I started Aquazzura, I knew this was the only place I could use to launch the brand. I had been told it wasn’t possible but after meeting the building’s current owner, Contessa Livia Branca di Romanico, and her family, I managed to convince them. We threw a launch party and started our friendship. Later, when I was looking for a new place to live, I called the contessa and she said: ‘You’re very lucky! The jewel of the palace is free.’ And, without a second thought, I moved in. Soon after, when I was looking for a new office space, the di Romanico family suggested a location in the building and that’s how we ended up having our first boutique there.
‘I love interiors and, along with fashion, design is my other passion; the contrast between antique and modern, mixing colours and patterns. I personally supervise the concept of each boutique and work together with interior designers who share this aesthetic. For this boutique I knew exactly what I wanted and Portuguese design duo Claudia and Catarina Soares Pereira, from the Casa do Passadiço studio, helped me to restore the building in harmony with the charming, historical, original structure. We maintained the original frescoes, ceilings and doors, mixing the antique elements with contemporary furniture. Finding out the whole surface was actually covered with such precious artwork was really a gift. The entrance features black panels, our signature black and white stripes on the walls and the marble floor, and a Sputnik chandelier, while the shoes are displayed on turquoise pillars. In the main space, there’s a strong contrast between the 17-century frescoes on the ceilings and the black and white marble wall, the elegant French grey and gold boiserie panelling, and other refined elements such graphic hand-woven carpets.
‘Each one of our boutiques has a very different feel but share a common thread. I believe that, living in a globalised world, people are getting tired of seeing the same things everywhere. I treat each boutique like a house: you wouldn’t decorate your seaside house the same way as a property in the city because the environment is different. Still, there’s something that pulls everything together – our signature black and white stripes. I find the motif very modern and chic, and it’s become a symbol for the brand.
‘Florence is the birthplace of some brands that I particularly love and offers a beautiful selection of interiors from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. When shopping for clothes I never look at a particular brand – I buy what I like and, most importantly, what suits me. In the city, I like Eredi Chiarini, which offers a wide range of old-school Italian brands it’s hard to find anywhere else, such as Caruso, Alessandro Gherardi or Cesare Attolini. I tend to dress classically and add a twist with the shoes I wear.’
Aquazzura, Lungarno Corsini 42R, 50125 Florence, +39 055 291242