Andrea Wazen took home FN’s Emerging Talent of the Year Award on Tuesday night during the FN Achievement Awards virtual ceremony.
The Lebanese designer has gained traction among fashion industry insiders over the past few years and is continuing to break ground. Hailey Bieber and Jennifer Lopez are all fans of the brand, and so is Kylie Jenner. Her stylist, Jill Jacobs, is partly to thank.
“[Andrea] is able to make a different spin on things,” Jacobs said while introducing Wazen during the virtual awards show. “Her pumps are made out mesh. It’s so unexpectedly feminine and sexy. I was just ooing and ahing and I posted them on my social media and everyone was like, ‘I need these shoes.'”
Wazen manufactures her shoes in her hometown in Beirut, which sets her apart from many luxury designers. Since launching online in 2017, she is finding success through her own e-commerce platform, as well as at stockists in the Middle East, including Level Shoes in Dubai and Galeries Lafayette in Qatar.
“This is really unreal considering the year I’ve been through,” Wazen said in her acceptance speech. “Beirut has been through so much this past year between the economic collapse, the revolution, the pandemic, and to top it all off there was the explosion.” (The Aug. 4 blast killed more than 150 people, injured thousands and obliterated Wazen’s store and offices.)
In response, Wazen went back to her roots and dedicated her spring ’21 collection to her city.
“I felt so sad and angry at that time that i felt that I needed to put that energy and emotion into design,” she added. “These are situations in life where you’re [made] to decide if [you should give up] or should I just grab myself together, do the best I can, because at the end of the day this is what life is.”
She concluded her acceptance speech, saying, “Beirut, this award is for you.”
For 34 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The first virtual FNAAs are presented in partnership with The Style Room Powered by Zappos, and sponsors FDRA, Deckers Brands, Soles4Souls and Foot Locker.