Iconic shoe design will always define the era in which it was conceived: consider the platforms of the 1960s, the classic 1980s stiletto heel and the ballet pumps of the ’90s. And now, Aquazzura’s Sexy Thing cut-out bootie encapsulates all that is great and good about fashion in the 2010s.
This variation of the closed-in ankle boot was created by Edgardo Osorio, the Colombian-born designer who founded Aquazzura in Florence in 2011; this was his first design for his label. Following a decade working for Salvatore Ferragamo Osorio had seen how Tuscany was home to the ‘best shoe craftsmen and best leathers in the world’ and decided that Italy was where he would launch his own label. His designs are available around the world, including in La Rinascente in Milan.
Inspired by the writer Truman Capote’s glamorous female friends of the 1960s, whom Capote called swans, Osorio sought to create a shoe for the ‘swans of today’. ‘I’m a Latin man and love to dance,’ he says. ‘I went to so many weddings and remember seeing girls take off their shoes before they started dancing. I wanted to create a shoe a girl could dance the night away in.’
Instantly recognisable due to its cut-out style and thin 11cm heel, it’s the sensual, skin-baring element of the design that gives it such a distinctive feel ‘The cut-out is what makes it so sexy as it shows some skin, but the foot is still very much covered,’ explains Osorio.
Following its launch in 2011 the shoe’s popularity was spearheaded by the Italian fashion editor Giovanna Battaglia who was frequently photographed wearing the shoe in a variety of shades and the design became an instant hit among the fashion set. Battaglia’s exuberant style is a perfect match for the Sexy Thing, with its mix of sensual yet cutting-edge design and flashes of bright colour. What’s distinctive about the Sexy Thing beyond its design is the vibrant selection of colourways in which it is available, in recognition of fashion’s current focus on bold, saturated hues. Today, the Sexy Thing bootie is worn by international style icons of different ages, from Cara Delevingne and Emma Watson to Solange Knowles and Natalia Vodianova.
‘I like to think that my shoes are trans-generational,’ says Osorio. ‘You can wear it all year round and dress it up or down. I’ve seen celebrities on the red carpet wear it with evening gowns as well as girls on the beach with denim shorts and a T-shirt. That’s why it’s so modern: it’s very effortless and works with almost any outfit.’
The body of the shoe is made from an unlined cashmere suede that naturally takes on the shape of the foot. In fact, the Sexy Thing bootie was the first design to utilise Aquazzura’s production technique, which is now patented. According to the company, this ‘second skin’ technology is unique to Aquazzura and makes the shoes incredibly soft and comfortable, as if ‘you are wearing a glove on a high heel’.
Comfort also comes from the sole of the shoe, the result of time invested by artisans who studied a myriad of techniques for construction and fit. ‘The man who creates my lasts came up with a way of constructing the shoe so that the weight of the body is more evenly distributed around the ball of the foot, the arch and the back, as opposed to having all the weight of your body on the ball of your foot which makes it uncomfortable,’ says Osorio. This element of the Sexy Thing led to it being known as the ‘fashion week shoe’ and the ‘24-hour shoe’, as it became popular with fashion editors during the launch of international collections.
‘Sexy Thing is a season-less and timeless shoe. My aesthetic reflects the beauty and sophistication of a certain kind of Italian style that is never over designed or overdone. It’s about small, luxurious details that make something great, like everything else in life,’ Osorio concludes.