LONDON — Aquazzura’s Edgardo Osorio knows how to make a statement shoe — and get stylish women to wear them.
He counts a wide circle of fellow designers, fashion industry veterans and red-carpet regulars — Meghan Markle included — among his friends and fans and for his latest collaboration, a project with Net-a-porter, he’s tapped five female jewelers within his growing circle of clients.
Osorio has joined with Sabine Getty, Eugenie Niarchos, Anissa Kermiche, Ana Khouri and Noor Fares, who are all known for their modern take on fine jewelry and their experimental personal style.
“These girls are a new generation of designers, each with a unique point of view, modernizing the fine-jewelry sector for a customer looking for something new, outside of the traditional way of wearing jewelry. They are giving consumers a chance to wear something precious in a much more casual way that adapts to their lifestyle,” said Osorio, adding that he was looking to team with women he is drawn to because of their creative work, but also the way they present themselves.
“Each of these women is their own best ambassador and wear their work beautifully. I wanted the shoes to also show the designers’ style and be something they would love to wear.”
The result is a capsule of five standout — and naturally bejeweled — pieces that translate the designer’s signature jewelry shapes into chic mules, statement sandals or heeled boots.
Getty, who is known for her brightly hued, Memphis-inspired pieces, added her signature wavy design on the clear PVC strap of a pointed-toe mule; Kermiche turned one of her most popular pearl and gold-hoop earring styles into a heel, while Niarchos’ love of nature and mixing metals was translated into a bold platform sandal featuring leather and gold-star shapes, which double as “a sign for good luck, for happy, bejeweled party feet.”
The collection is set to launch on Nov. 23 and prices range from 670 pounds to 975 pounds.
All five jewelers said they jumped at the opportunity to experiment with a new medium and learn how to “design with a different set of principles,” Fares said.
“[The collaboration] made me look at things from a different perspective. Being outside of my element made me sensitive to who I am in my work and how I could translate that into another medium,” added Khouri.
Niarchos also puts collaborations at the center of her work, and has in the past teamed with ready-to-wear designer Saloni to bring her lifelong obsession with all things underwater to life, in the form of bright sequined dresses that match her jewels. Kermiche is adding interior objects to her offer, while Getty sees herself as much as an image-maker as a jewelry designer, and often puts herself in front of the camera to create editorial concepts, from haute couture shoots for Tatler magazine to modeling Charlotte Olympia’s swimsuit capsule with Adriana Degreas.
“I like the risk-taking and just keep my eyes open to anything interesting that’s going on around me. I try to think outside the box and find things that excite me in design,” said Getty.
Unconventional collaborations also offer a way to stand out in a crowded market and make sure customers stay interested. “People see so much — they need to be entertained and they need to be surprised. We live in a fast-paced world of overconsumption, so to get customers to stop and pay attention at your project, you need to offer something a little unusual,” said Kermiche.
This more open-minded approach to collaboration has allowed for more frequent interactions between the worlds of jewelry and fashion and a move away from the traditionalism that has often been attached to fine jewelry. This wave of jewelers are approaching design from a more daring point of view — referencing everything from the female form to pastel-hued Memphis furniture, Hindu symbolism or unicorns, in the case of Niarchos — speaking to their customers via Instagram and being active members of the fashion circuit.
Getty calls it “the democratization of jewelry.” “Ten years ago, small brands who didn’t come from generations of jewelers didn’t really exist in a relevant number. Today, we are a real wave of designers who have their own brand and sell their jewelry in fashion stores,” she added.
For Kermiche, who was quick to grasp the attention of global retailers and customers with her architectural shapes and cheeky “Body Language” collection that translates parts of the female body onto jewels, this shift has been possible because of the evolution of the jewelry customer, too.
“Jewelry used to be a product that was more or less exclusively bought by men for women, given the price point. But now women have buying power and can decide for themselves. Rather than leaving this choice to someone else who would go to Cartier or Tiffany’s, they choose to be more original and buy something that has more personality, perhaps a bit more humor and looks more like them.”
Customers are also better informed, looking to discover the narrative behind a brand and buying jewelry to wear every day rather than to keep in a safe.
“Customers today are much more knowledgable and discerning. They are engaged on many different social platforms and want to know everything behind a brand or product. Instagram does play an integral part in this communication with customers and I use it to share my world, how everything I design fits together and how you can wear my pieces,” said Niarchos.
While they stay committed to a slower pace of creation, this wave of jewelers are constantly sharing glimpses of their stylish worlds via Instagram and interacting with customers.
Fares said there has been “a real shift in purchases coming through social media” in the last year, while Getty sees Instagram as “the most important platform to spread your message.”
“People absolutely love seeing the process, from inspiration to sketch and then to final product,” added Kermiche. “I don’t have a physical shop, so it’s important to say who I am on social media. Instagram Stories have now come into play, too, and really help with sales. People are able to see a product in movement and you can then create instant interaction with a user in private.”