Artisan Excellence – Derome Brenner
1st August 2012 Xavier Derome bounds into the Blois train station, and the first thing I notice are his sunglasses — quietly distinctive, effortlessly luxurious and exuding confident quality. Blois is situated in the Loire Valley – that sumptuous region of France with its beautiful river and amazing chateaux. This area is Derome’s professional and personal territory – he was raised here, and many family members live here too – close to the historical, magical chateaux, and where Derome creates his own spell with beautifully crafted eyewear.
We drive by one of the most famous Chateau – Chambord – and as I’ve never been, Xavier graciously stops so we can have coffee in the garden, while admiring the extravagant architectural dream of King François 1. What inspires you, I ask Xavier? He looks up from his coffee and surveys the magnificence around him. “All of this,” he responds, gesturing to the beauty of the green forest, the open spaces, the superb chateau, the Loire River. “I was born in this region; it’s in my blood.”
Studying history at La Sorbonne didn’t really prepare Derome for the eyewear world. However, his father was involved in the production of frames, and this is where the seeds for his future career were sown. “What I really wanted to do was go live in Vietnam, to move away from France.” However, he believes in fate, and began to become interested in eyewear. “But I knew,” says Xavier, “that if I wanted to do this, it would be a long road to design eyewear, and I needed the skills. I learnt production at the ‘grass roots’ and the new technology. Eyewear production is still very special, and I developed a fondess for acetate, because with acetate, I could make jewellery too.”
We move onto Derome’s production facilities in the small village of Bracieux, and Flo Flo, Xavier’s adorable little miniature dachshund, greets us with enthusiastic barking. When all ten employees of Derome Brenner are at work, the factory is a beehive of activity. “I love machines and all this fascinates me,” says Derome, “and these Italian machines are able to do many processes, which are all intricate.” Derome Brenner frames are acclaimed for their exceptional craftsmanship, and the distinctive multiple layering of acetate that gives the impression of volume, without ever being heavy. The acetate is polished in special tumblers filled with wood chips, and Xavier savours holding each piece in his hands to observe the polishing process. No detail is overlooked; as a result, quantities are very small. “We keep no stock, and many frames are made to order. Everything is finished by hand – there are over 60 different steps. Only hand finishing can produce superior quality,” notes Derome, “and this requires concentration and good eyes.”
Xavier’s concentration, determination, creativity, passion and perseverance won him a SILMO d’OR in 2009, and his frames are sold worldwide. Recently, he lanched jewellery, which has met with great success. “I’ve carved a nice in the market,” says Derome, “and I have my own production plant; I can travel; I love my work; I love my job.” And eyewear fans across the globe love his beautiful frames. www.deromebrenner.com JG