Venice Has a Long Road to Recovery: How One Local Shoe Designer Is Bringing Attention to the City’s Iconic Glass Industry

As Venice grapples with both pandemic and environmental challenges, the city’s road to recovery is long. With that in mind, one local designer is determined to bring attention to the city’s rich history of glassmaking.

For spring ’22, designer Giorgia Caovilla has unveiled the O Jour for Venice collection, which features the brand’s classic sandals embellished with special murrine, the glass beads that are a symbol of Venetian craftsmanship. The pearls, which are made of one-of-a-kind glass from the 1960s, are enhanced on shoes thanks to a bezel that protects the stone.

“Venice has had a really hard time during the pandemic, so I wanted to do something to show people Venice is strong. We have something you can’t find around the world, and I wanted to explain it with shoes,” said Caovilla, who launched her namesake collection in 2011 after learning the business from her family.

The project was born from a collaboration between the Venetian entrepreneur and Diana Battaggia, director of Unido, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

O Jour, Venice Collection, murrine glass
Each pearl of murrine glass is distinctive.
CREDIT: Giovanni De Sandre

Caovilla and Battaggia met at the 2006 Minerva Award ceremony, when Caovilla received a female entrepreneurship award. Since then, their common interest has always been to develop synergies for women in different fields.

“With the pandemic, I really wanted to think about how to do things differently,” Caovilla said.

Of course, there were sizable technical challenges with the project given the uniqueness of murrine.

Giorgia Caovilla, O Jour, Venice
Giorgia Caovilla models necklaces made of murrine glass.
CREDIT: Giovanni De Sandre

“It’s made by hand, so there’s not one piece that’s similar to another. It’s much more difficult than [traditional shoemaking],” Caovilla said.

Looking ahead, Caovilla plans to increase awareness around the Venetian glass industry by help to create a school that can teach the next generation of artisans the intricacies of the craft.

The O Jour for Venice collection launches in January on ojour.com and in select boutiques.

O Jour, glass, Venice
A closer look at the Venetian murrine glass O Jour is showcasing.
CREDIT: Giovanni De Sandre
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