Over ninety years ago, a chic little optical boutique opened in the Madeleine area of Paris. The distinctive location on rue Vignon is close to the famed Madeleine Church, and a short stroll from Concorde. If boutiques could talk, what a fascinating tale the Lafont shop could reveal! The building was constructed in the early 19th Century, and has survived global depression, a World War, and numerous changes in selling eyewear. The boutique strides confidently towards its centenary, rich in history – complimented and enhanced by modern times and trends.
Louis Lafont opened the boutique in 1923, and a guided tour by Matthieu Lafont – the third generation to be working in the business – provided a fascinating insight into the family legacy. Frames from the archives are on display in custom-crafted cabinets, so the shop is a delightful mixture of Lafont history, and the current collections.
In this cosy, elegant atmosphere, clients are able to choose from the vast range of Lafont frames – optical and sunglasses – for men, women and children. In addition, Lafont has opened their first Atelier, tucked behind this architectural gem. The original stalls where horses were once kept provide further flashback into the rich Lafont heritage. In the Atelier, clients can creat a pair of one-of-a-kind frames with numerous possibilities for shapes, colours and materials. Certain materials are exclusive to L’Atelier Lafont, including buffalo horn. Pedigree, experience, and artisan craftsmanship are expressions of refinement and authentic luxury available at the L’Atelier Lafont.
If a visit to Paris is on your agenda, a positive and rewarding experience is definitely a visit to the Lafont Boutique and L’Atelier Lafont — 11 rue Vignon 75008 Paris.www.lafont.frJG
A modern, inspired interior is the focus at the second concept store by OOG, located in the Old Town of Gdansk, in Poland. Eyewear expert and owner, Adam Kujawski told Eyestylist: “The interior was designed by Marta Napiorkowska-Losin from Manadesign studio. As with our first store in Sopot, we left her to come up with our new concept.”
Inspired by the old-fashioned lifestyle of Gdansk, Napiorkowska-Losin has kept the mood of OOG’s original store, whilst playing with a contrast of natural materials, metal fittings and a fresh colour direction. The result is a trendsetting store design and a reference for the new wave of modern independent optical retail openings in Europe for 2017.
A very special eye test room has been created in the basement of the building. “During the Second World War, the old town of Gdansk and the building was completely destroyed,” explains Kujawski. “It was rebuilt with a mix of bricks that were left in the ruins. In the walls, it is possible to see an incredible mix of Gothic bricks and much more recent ones from the 20th century.”
Graphic artist Oskar Podolski aka OESU One (www.oesuone.com) has also been involved in the design project downstairs, creating a 3d graffiti with a quote by Jose Saramago, roughly translating: “Everybody’s world is what his eyes can see.”
Address: OOG Concept store, Szeroka 17, Gdansk, Poland. For more information about OOG in Poland visit www.oog.com.pl CN
Dubai’s impressive luxury eyewear store – EYE BOUTIQUE – is a haven for the eyewear enthusiast, offering a mix of some of the world’s greatest luxury design labels and experimental designs, an exceptional and comprehensive vision care service, and a staggeringly impressive choice of vintage frames.
Part of the historical Hassan’s Optician Company in Kuwait, the first optician store officially approved by the Kuwaiti Department of Health in 1960, the innovative world-class EYE BOUTIQUE was founded by Sanaz Saadat, the wife of Dr Kian Saadat, the son of the founder and current CEO of Hassan’s Optician Co., Dr Hassan Saadat Yazdi.
The success of the EYE BOUTIQUE in Kuwait and Dubai is such that expansion plans are underway to open two additional stores in the UAE.
Today, the boutique in the Dubai Mall which EYESTYLIST visited in October 2016, has a comprehensive selection of luxury and experimental frames. They include some of the finest designs by leading innovators Anna-Karin Karlsson, LGR, Linda Farrow, Gentle Monster, Oliver Goldsmith and LINDBERG, as well as ic! berlin – some of their rare pieces such as Splash! dating back to 2012 and their more recent collectible “glasses display” (pictured above).
The vintage collection is unprecedented and comes from Hassan’s Kuwait archives. Key early pieces from brands like Persol are available, as are labels such as the Italian classic Casanova by TAXI, Paloma Picasso, DIOR and Cazal.
Dubai Mall, Ground Level, Dubai and 360 Shopping Mall, Sixth Ring Road, Kuwait. New stores coming soon! For more details visit www.eyeboutiqueme.com CN
Swedish designer Anna-Karin Karlsson presented her luxurious eyewear collection at Bergdorf Goodman, New York City’s illustrious fashion emporium. Karlsson’s individualistic, charismatic frames were among the highlights of the Fashion Week experience.
“I love Bergdorf Goodman and I am thrilled that their team is so very adventurous and fashion forward to carry my work. Such a joy to do my in-store visits and events a couple of times a year and meet the lovely staff, and the folks that have enough confidence to wear my work.” Anna-Karin is photographed (above right) with Linda Fargo – the dynamic senior vice-president fashion and store presentation. www.annakarinkarlsson.comwww.bergdorfgoodman.comJG
“Ottica Urbani started to produce eyewear in 1953, with a collection in cellulose acetate by Mazzucchelli 1849, handmade in Cadore,” explains Fosca Urbani, one of three siblings who run the eyewear business today.
“Today we have two shops in Venice – one at the Lido, by the Des Bains Hotel and one just steps away from Piazza San Marco. We are stocking brands like Kuboraum, JF Rey and BOZ as well as our own collection of handmade designs.” The business has a simple yet precise philosophy when it comes to its own line: to bring inspiration from the lively artistic and cultural context of Venice and the city’s magical beauty. The Urbani frames are made from water buffalo horn, wood, stainless steel and high-quality acetate with inserts made of fabric and – incredibly – Venetian glass. “This eyewear,” explains Fosca, “is the result of our creative experimentation; it is designed to “dress” the face, a symbol for a lively, colourful and optimistic personality.”
During our visit to the store, we saw the Pantos style worn by Sir Elton John, frames decorated with small animals, as well us some “limited edition” designs with a special connection to Venice.”Tondo Murano is the classic round dedicated to Le Corbusier inset with unique embedded Murano glass “millefiori” beads produced the famous Ercole Moretti company.”
Model Ice, on the other hand, is a statement design produced by hand with an uneven outer rim that is elegant, expressive and perfectly Venetian in spirit.
For further information about Ottica Urbani or to purchase their Venetian frames online, visit www.otticaurbani.comCN
Print designer Lisa King and Zanzan Eyewear have opened a stunning one stop summer shop in London’s Soho today, just in time for the soaring temperatures in the capital. The selection of specialist independent brands includes exclusive brightly coloured swimwear by Lisa King, handmade sunglasses from Zanzan, jewellery by Jiya, and a selection of travel items and vintage books and magazines. A capsule collection by iconic 80s label Bodymap includes beach separates, tees and totes.
Featured accessory labels: Lisa King Swimwear, Zanzan, Bodymap, July Stars, Conservatory Archives, Alighieri, Jiya, Cosmos by Petra Borner
Five optical store owners from Germany, including featured boutiques on Eyestylist, Klar in Darmstadt and Leidmann, Munich, are teaming up together to launch limited eyewear models in their unique stores across the country – in an initiative inspired by a mutual love of great design and good friendship. Their first edition? A Limited Edition acetate sunglass design with Californian eyewear designer, Garrett Leight, produced in a run of just 150 for the five participating stores.
Available through the five stores from this weekend, priced at 335 euros, the Collective told Eyestylist a 2nd Limited Edition collaborative edition is on the way for Autumn/Winter 2016 – this will be created with a different international eyewear designer popular with the group.
Hans Schneider and his daughter Sina gave us a warm welcome in Munich, on a cold snowy evening during the annual eyewear event Opti. Their family-run store, located close to the universities and prestigious art galleries opened at this very same address in October 1970, and, as Hans and his daughter explained, the whole interior, as it was then, has been preserved. “We have only needed to renovate the floor,” explained Sina. “My father had the interior furnished by an “optical” furniture specialist from Hanover (a rarity at that time!), according to his own taste and design brief.”
During the first two years’ of business, Scheider recalled that he sold Zeiss lenses, opera glasses and Rodenstock lenses and spectacles. It wasn’t until 1972 that he added some of the up-and-coming Italian eyewear labels; and as things began to change and the choice in collections grew, Schneider took a selection of fine eyewear designs including the German labels Cazal and Jil Sander – at that time sold directly by the design house itself – and, by the early 80s, Alain Mikli from France.
“Today, with the vast number of collections available, we are still seeking out the innovators and designers that show excellence, quality and detailing. We have selected items that my father and I both identify as individual and of good quality…we are working with brands like Lindberg, Oliver Peoples, PQ and Eyevan from Japan,” says Sina. “I love some of the more underground styles by Activist in Brooklyn. My father has an incredible appreciation of all things that are well made, using traditional techniques, but he is also known for recommending the very individual frames produced with a modern, more daring aesthetic. He has a real eye for which frame will suit a customer, young or old, and true expertise when it comes to finding something different. He’s inspirational.”
Parisian brand Lafont’s boutique on Boulevard Raspail, a stone’s throw from Bon Marche, is instantly recognisable with its aubergine and dark green decor and artistic seasonal window displays. A 1970s painting of a tiger above the desk – with a glint in his eye – has come from the Lafont family’s private collection, creating a surprising focal point in the spacious modern interior where eyewear is displayed on elegant shelves.
Our most recent visit to the family-owned Parisian brand took in two Lafont addresses – 17 Boulevard Raspail, a large space with a high ceiling, chic and contemporary, and fitting for the area frequented by Parisian professionals, lawyers and politicians; and the historic “epi-centre” of the brand in Rue Vignon, charming and historic, more museum than boutique, dating back to 1923 (further details at http://www.eyestylist.com/2011/09/lafont-eyewear-paris-france-2/)
“My mother and father began to experiment with colour in eyewear as early as the 1970s,” explains Matthieu Lafont who meets me at Rue Vignon. “They were spraying the frames to apply colour at that time, and then they began to introduce fabric into the designs. They were really experimental for those times.”
Today the shops highlight the brand’s entire collections – classics such as Jupiter (above) set side by side with new designs, desirable re-editions, a gorgeous classical horn collection, and precious authentic vintage tortoise frames. Bespoke is also an important highlight at retail. “We see demand for bespoke frames in the stores, and this is an area that is increasingly relevant, it’s a part of our expertise,” explains Matthieu.
With four shops in Paris and one in Normandy, as well as optical stockists worldwide – some feature bespoke Lafont “corners” with similar colours and details as the Parisian stores themselves – the label shows no signs of slowing down in terms of creative drive and accomplished trendsetting designs and decorative applications. Part of the beauty of the collection remains its unique identity – and the expression of that through each design. “For our 2016 collection presentation at Mido,” explains Matthieu,” Thomas, artistic director, has worked on new colour combinations in acetate, metal or acetate with fabric. We will also present a new set of retro inspired products combining carbon fibre fronts and beta-titanium temples. A lot of work has been dedicated to the shapes, with new offers in terms of sizing and proportions.” For more information about Lafont Paris and the Parisian stores visit www.lafont.com. Photography credit: Eyestylist.comCN
The Barcelona brand Wilde Sunglasses announces a new showroom in Medellin, Colombia, following the success of its independent label in the Catalan city of Barcelona. The new retail space is similar to its bijoux boutique on Calle Avinyo, behind Placa Reial and the Ramblas. The retro-modern design of the collection, inspired by earlier decades, has established the artisan label as one of Barcelona’ s most popular home-grown independent sunglass labels, and it is becoming increasingly sought after outside Spain.
Designed by the Wilde team, the space in Medellin becomes the first international outlet for the brand showing the entire collection for the first time in Colombia. www.wildewebstore.comCN
Moscot’s latest venture is a new store in Soho, London, which opened this month. The first of its kind in Europe, the shop at 37 Beak Street has been designed to replicate the Moscot stores in New York City, with the familiar decor, vintage memorabilia and dark wood fittings, and a range of its well-known vintage-look eyewear, popular with spec-wearing celebrities including Johnny Depp.
We popped in on a busy Xmas shopping afternoon to a warm welcome from the team and managing partner, Mo Webb. Resident ‘Moscot mascot’ Hugo (#MOSCOTMASCOT) was also at home – one of the cutest puppies we’ve met in a while.
As well as three stores in New York City and one in London, Moscot has shops in Tokyo and Seoul. One of the oldest surviving independent labels in eyewear, dating back to 1915, the brand has grown a following globally.
Moscot London, 37 Beak Street, Soho London W1F 9RZ. For details about Moscot, visit www.moscot.comCN
A world of luxury, beauty, inspiring fashion and accessories waits behind the doors of Les Suites – the sumptuous Parisian boutique, located in the chic 8th Arrondissement. The ambience is magical – an amazing interior with a sweeping grand staircase, exquisite service, clothes and accessories that are unique in their crafted perfection.
The exclusive boutique opened in 2013, presenting Limited Editions of gorgeous fashion creations – Haute Couture and Pret-a-Porter plus wedding gowns – are made by European, American, Japanese, Russian and Chinese designers. Like the collections, the clientele is international – from all corners of the globe, and includes many from the art, film, and music worlds. Often mothers and daughters shop together, to discover one-of-a-kind items. Fabulous sunglasses — all handcrafted – featured at Les Suites includes designs by Anna-Karin Karlsson, Jacques Marie Mage, John Dalia, Thierry Lasry, and Kyme. When in Paris, treat yourself to a visit at Les Suites – it is a memorable, modern, exceptional and elegant experience. www.boutiquelessuites.comJG
“It’s lined with up-and-coming design stores,” says Hackney boy Keval, explaining the location of his inspirational glasses store – Specstacular – on Cheshire Street in Shoreditch, East London. “Hala and I opened the shop in May last year, but we’ve planned the business over a much longer period of around 7 years. I was driving across the country to source furniture and increase the vintage collection. I have been collecting vintage frames for around 20 years.” In the centre of the shop is a wooden cabinet featuring unusual eyewear exhibits including an “eye mask” that dates back to Roman times. Lining the walls of the shop are a selection of the frames – different types of vintage design, folding glasses, unusual safety eyewear and visors, and classics of all shapes and sizes. Pictured above: owners Keval and Hala at Specstacular, Shoreditch
The shop was introduced to Eyestylist by Rigards’ Ti Kwa, whose unique horn designs are now available here – aptly it’s the first stockist of the Rigards collection in London, and the only store in the UK that will have the exclusive Rigards x Royal Selangor designs in horn and pewter – coming soon.
Alongside Rigards are several other carefully selected new labels such as Michel Henau and Kuboraum, – Keval says the new ones have to be really interesting – “the wackier the better” – and the selection of incredible vintage designs, which dates back to the 40s, giving the shop its historic appeal. “We have become a destination for eyewear brands and designers; we are involved in all kinds of special TV and film projects including a documentary on the Royal Family and a Hong Kong-Chinese romantic film called ‘Triumph in the Skies”.
“Customising lenses is one of our specialities and this is an area where we seem to have caught the public’s imagination. We are able to play with colours and tints that you wouldn’t normally get, and we can fit them in frames that are not easily found,” explains Keval.
Planning for the future, the duo mention a new 15 piece collection of their own, coming in summer 2016. “I am working on it and I’d like to launch next year. We will start in acetate with a few combination styles. The aim will be to create a collection that fits with our specialism in vintage, with, of course emphasis on artisan quality and precision.” Further details at www.specstacular.londonCN
Les Lunettes Óptica, a leader in independent eyewear in Barcelona, has opened its third store, just off Paseo de Gracia and close to Gaudi’s exotic Casa Batlló. A minimal white interior with industrial vintage fittings and natural wood make a perfect backdrop for creative frames selected by Eva Mena.
Collections launched here in August included LGR, Res/Rei, Gentle Monster and Barcelona’s own young eyewear label, Alfred Kerbs.
Each of the Les Lunettes stores has a handpicked selection of frames and a different style of interior in keeping with the location of the store. Owner Eva explained: “All our stores are unique. The starting point for the new interior in Consell de Cent was a set of old industrial drawers and the iron stairway, painted neon yellow – with this we have added some 1950s touches including vintage mirrors and chairs. We will add more individual touches as we go along.”
Munich’s Brillen Schneider, a specialist in fine eyewear and independent brands such as LGR, Lindberg and Suzy Glam, launch a new window exhibition with artist Ewa Look. 12 handmade collages, with a nod to German dadaism and 3d futurism, are displayed alongside eye-catching frames from some of the collections on sale at the prestigious store.
The colourful collage designs in different sizes metamorphosise the optician’s windows with spectacular effect. Showing until 19th October, with all original collages available to purchase. Brillen Schneider, Amalienstraße 33, 80799 Munich / www.brillen-schneider.dewww.ewalook.comCN
1st September 2015 Viennese coffee has a much-heralded reputation for its aromatic and delicious taste. The brew also appears to have inspirational qualities as well. It was over a coffee at Kleines, the celebrated Vienna Café, that Bernhard Wolf of ROLF Spectacles was first inspired to open the ROLF Boutique. Bernie was attracted to the welcoming shop design, with its original wood front still intact. ROLF is all about the craft of wood, nature and beauty.
Meetings with Bernie’s brothers and the ROLF team, and a bit of detective work ensued, and now the former sign shop is a distinctive bijou boutique, featuring the entire collection of meticulously crafted eyewear. “It is probably the smallest shop in the world,” says Manager Johannes Kern, “and it is like a little jewel.” The location has jewel-like credentials as well. Situated on the Franziskanerplatz, one of Vienna’s oldest squares; it is also the site of an historic 17th Century Franciscan Church; and Kleines – the charming café that caters to the Viennese art scene.
The ROLF boutique, which opened six months ago, has already achieved international exposure. “We have customers from all different nations – Russia, America, Australia, Asia – it’s really cool,” says Kern, “and the ROLF boutique is included on Vienna tour guides, which is amazing. We didn’t ask them to do this. However, most people are not used to craftsmen making everything perfect, and not accustomed to handmade frames. Some people are fascinated from the first second; others don’t see the energy.”
Quality service is always the ROLF priority. “One evening I was getting ready to close the shop, and one of the best hotels in Vienna telephoned to say they had an American client with a ROLF frame that was damaged – “could I fix it?” I said I don’t know, but bring it over. The customer arrived, I looked at the problem, and wasn’t sure I could repair it, but told the man to go have a beer, and come back in an hour. Exactly sixty minutes later, he returned and I’d repaired the frame. He was fascinated it worked – and purchased two more frames to take back to the U.S. He was very happy.”
Everything about the shop has the ROLF signature. Natural materials including steamed oak, grey felt and slate are used, and the frame trays that display the designs, are all in wood as well. The environment is the ideal showcase for the authenticity and craftsmanship of the handmade ROLF collection. “This is fun for me,” says Kern, “and I like people to be fascinated by our passion to do this. I really care that frames fit properly, and how to make the complete service. I get up every morning and like coming here.” www.rolf-spectacles.com JG
Top Image: ROLF Store Manager Johannes Kern at the ROLF Boutique Entrance
21st August 2015Suzy Glam’s chic, sophisticated boutique in the Museum District of Amsterdam opened last November, featuring the complete selection of handcrafted eyewear created by Susanne Klemm. The boutique also showcases distinctive eyewear designers with a creative spirit – including Jérémy Tarian who visited and presented his collection at a recent Vernissage.
“After appearances of Paulino, Willems Wonderglasses, 8000 Eyewear and now Tarian, the concept of an Eyewear Gallery is Established,” says Etienne Frederiks of Suzy Glam, “and it was great that Jérémy came to Amsterdam. The nice weather and great people made for a relaxed atmosphere.” Photo above: Etienne Frederiks, Susanne Klemm, and Jérémy Tarian at Suzy Glam Boutique
The Tarian collection is unique in its originality, style, beauty and colourations. Jérémy brings art into the eyewear environment with his handmade designs in acetate, and acetate and metal. www.suzyglam.comwww.jeremytarian.comJG
11th August 2015 Leading independent optical retailer Óptica Toscana, one of Europe’s top eyewear destinations, opens another store this summer, on the beautiful island of Mallorca. The design is in keeping with the other stores in its creative design, but maintains its own unique warm ambiance and decorative details, fitting with the sunny location.
Like the other shops in Madrid and Barcelona, the store proposes a selection of “the best collections from around the world” including Anna Karin-Karlsson, Rapp, Anne & Valentin, Mykita and Jacques Marie-Mage. Find additional details at www.opticatoscana.com
Óptica Toscana, Paraires, 2., 07001 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Barbara McReynolds and Gai Gherardi, co-founders and co-designers of l.a.Eyeworks, share with Eyestylist the history of their legendary eyewear boutique.
“We opened our store on Melrose Avenue in 1979 because we wanted to change the conversation about eyewear. Having worked as opticians for several years with many of the best craftspeople and boutiques in southern California, we had grown restless and dissatisfied with the ‘sea of sameness’ we observed in the optical scene. Conspicuous logos, drop temples, enormous lenses, bland colours, narrow gender definitions, and optical shops themselves with heavy wooden furniture and potted plants – we wanted nothing to do with that kind of vocabulary or clichéd expectation. We were suffocating and we sensed that others were too. It was time to clean it all up; go back to the archetypes, re-imagine them, and open the face to new ideas.
“The context of our store was critical to the evolution of l.a. Eyeworks. Instead of frame boards or armoires, we created a gallery setting where glasses were presented unadorned, in repetition, and in every possible colour. Giving generous light and air to the frames made people graphically present in the space, and it allowed the glasses to be seen as objects of design. This was a new retailing concept for optical at that time. It was our way of giving people a gentle nudge to reawaken their sensibilities.
“Equally important was Melrose Avenue itself, which catapulted in a few short years from a relatively barren retail frontier to being the heart of music and visual culture in Los Angeles. Hardcore punks, artists, new wave darlings, fledging actors, clothing designers, filmmakers, and characters of every sort were all mingling in the atmosphere of our store. It’s hard to describe the dynamic in any other way than to say the store was vibrating. Add to that the stunning diversity of faces we were seeing! Everything was ripe for reinvention and we celebrated that moment by giving people room to rethink the paradigms. Out first eyewear designs, our window concepts, our ongoing projects with artists, our advertising campaign and our tag line, ‘A face is like a work of art. It deserves a great frame’ were all born from that milieu and its incredible energy.
“In addition to our own designs for eyewear, we also envisioned our store as a platform to showcase emerging international designers and brands. This began very early, around 1980 on a trip to Paris, where we were awestruck to come upon the creations of Alain Mikli. We carried his complete collection home in our suitcases to make its debut in the United States. And there have been many ‘firsts’ like this with other kindred spirits through the years. In our store today, you will find Kirk & Kirk, Rapp Optical, Jeremy Tarian, Kuboraum, Lucas de Staël , Alaine Bekaert, Hoet Couture, Blake Kuwahara, and Mykita, among others.
“In many ways, the store itself has changed remarkably little since its inception. The footprint is the same and we love to brag about our Pirelli rubber floor that has stood up to 35 years of traffic. We continue to make provocative slogans and puns for our windows to talk to the world outside the shop (‘the original Twitter feed’ as we like to call it). There’s our giant clock, the original sales radius built by Gai’s father, the gorgeous furnishings by architect Josh Schweitzer, the Diane Arbus photo of a naked woman in sunglasses – these things are in the grain now, and they continue to resonate for us and our clientele. Nor have we wavered from our original mission: that glasses are imaginative, intimate vehicles that can give an individual permission to express themselves more fully. We have, and have had, other retail spaces, but the mothership on Melrose Avenue remains the heart of l.a. Eyeworks.” www.laeyeworks.comJG
16th July 2015 Created in 2008 by husband and wife team Jean-Paul and Catherine Sanchez, reVOLVERhas become a reference point for cutting-edge fashion and style on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza with a brand mix that includes McQ Alexander McQueen, 8PM and Silent Damir Doma. Now the owners have created their own separate reVOLVER Sunglasses boutique, dedicated to a selection of high-fashion, cult and artisan sunglass labels.
20 meters from reVOLVER fashion store, the shop is more like a gallery than a traditional sunglasses shop; original stonework walls contrast with custom-made raw metal fittings, polished concrete flooring and glass displays.
“There’s nothing else quite like it in Ibiza,” explain the owners. “People are tired of the same old brands you can buy in most airports; they want a more personal service where they can spend time finding the perfect pair of shades,” says Jean-Paul.
reVOLVER Sunglasses prides itself in offering a carefully curated edit of brands and styles. “We’re passionate about what we do. We spend a lot of time researching and selecting the very best from what are sometimes quite large collections. We mix well-known luxury brands like Linda Farrow and Dita with some amazing artisan brands – Hapter from Italy, Vava from Berlin, and Valley from Australia. At the end of the day, it comes down to taste, and over the years I think people here have come to trust us to do the hard work for them!” reVOLVER Sunglasses, Calle Bisbe Cardona 6, Ibiza 07800, Spain www.revolveribiza.com. Photographyby Sofia Gomez Fonzo (www.sofiagomezfonzo.wordpress.com/)CN
7th July 2015 Launched this month as part of the celebrations surrounding the V&A’s landmark exhibition, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, is the opulent display of Anna-Karin Karlsson Eyewear at the V&A store, on sale through to September for London Fashion Week.
Anna-Karin Karlsson epitomises the very best of creative couture eyewear design, focusing on avantgarde, high-octane frame creations with intricate, finely crafted decoration. An admirer of McQueen, Karlsson’s Decadence collection is lavish and exciting, and perfectly fitting as a tribute to one of the most innovative couture designers of recent times.
Karlsson has created two dedicated limited edition styles available exclusively at the V&A Shop. ‘The Butterfly’ (above) is dedicated to the designer’s Swedish ancestors who belonged to a tradition of hair jewelry artisans commissioned to create mourning pieces for Queen Victoria; “light and airy” as Karlsson had intended, the design appears laden with pretty, hyperreal butterflies in violet, azure and delicate black and tan.
The second collector’s piece, ‘The Queen’ – is a celebration of Queen Victoria and Alexander McQueen; this complex design references Karlsson’s own reputation as the queen of sunglasses, and features a transparent lace-patterned acetate and tiny metal butterflies on a typically oversized statement front. Both styles are priced at £575 and are limited to just 10 pieces each.
Also in the collection that has gone on sale are showpieces from the Decadence Collection; they include ‘Mourning for Miss Blow’, a tribute to fashion legend Isabella Blow, and Gold Horse or “One Trick Pony”, the extraordinary 24k plated gold design with pony profile. Anna-Karin Karlsson Eyewear is on display at the V&A Shop until 27th September 2015. V&A, Cromwell Road, London SW7. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty is open until 2nd August 2015; round the clock opening has been planned for 24th and 26th July and the following weekend until the exhibition ends. For more information, visit www.annakarinkarlsson.com / www.vam.ac.uk CN
1st July 2015 Since opening in the heart of Copenhagen in 2011, Ørgreen has grown its reputation across the world. For Danish residents with a taste for home-grown fashion, their flagship store is the first port of call for specs or sunnies, and a range of eyewear that includes Ørgreen, alongside brands like Thom Browne, Reiz (Germany), Hoffman Horn and Barton Perreira.
When you step inside, you know you have entered their ultra modern world of design. An über interesting duplex is designed to echo the sleek and chic lines of their designer eyewear, as well as its colours – in specific details such as the fluo lighting. The testing and consultancy room is in the basement, out of view, but offering full eye examinations, consultancy and lens expertise.
Managed by optometrist Chris Jensen, the team are all qualified opticians: “I have been here four years; I had my own optical store, and then I partnered with Ørgreen to run this store as a flagship. There are few optical boutiques in Copenhagen – really we are one of a kind.”
Like many independent optical boutiques at this level, service is a priority in the store. Jensen explains that he believes in old-fashioned relationship building with customers. “The store is also different from many in that we do a lot of collaborative work with other designers as well as events during the design and fashion weeks in Copenhagen,” he explains. “The Arne Jacobsen Swan Chairs (top image) were produced in a collaboration with Republic of Fritz Hansen. We have also worked with Danish menswear designer Asger Juel Larsen on a Limited Edition Sunglasses Collection of three acetate styles with neon green and orange lenses.”
Asked who the customers are, Jensen explains it’s quite a cool mix. As well as “hipsters” who know about eyewear, the store attracts the local community, the progressive lens wearer and a trickle of tourists from far afield as China, Japan, and the USA – with a curious eye or interest in contemporary European design.
Is there another store planned? The official line is “at the moment, no, but that is not to say that we will not do so in future”.
1st June 2015 Like many renowned cities in France, Dijon has a long and noble history. The home of the Dukes of Burgundy from the 11th century until the late 15th century, Dijon was the European centre of art, science and learning. The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon is part of the Ducal palace, which includes kitchens that date back to the 15th century. This is also the region for acclaimed Burgundy wine; aromatic Dijon mustard that was created in 1856; and an amazingly beautiful countryside. In this heady atmosphere, is an innovative optician who is an oasis for independent eyewear designers – Bruno Curtil Opticien.
Curtil was an early champion of l.a. Eyeworks and Alain Mikli. “For thirty years, I’ve been buying l.a. Eyeworks and Mikli – I’m very loyal to my suppliers. I have confidence in their creativity,” he says. Other brands to be found at Curtil include ROLF, ic!berlin, theo, Hoet, Oliver Goldsmith, Anne & Valentine, and Thierry Lasry among others. Prior to being involved in optics, Curtil was in the theatre, and his sense of performance and staging he brings to his optical practice, with events that involve his clients and the community. “We have fashion shows in the shop featuring sunglasses and swimwear; we serve delicious fresh snacks, along with fruit juices made in the Bourgogne, and we have live music. These events are by invitation only and the evenings are great,” says Curtil.
The shop decor is fresh, modern and inviting, with high ceilings, Italian wood and the versatile Dupont material Corian in white is used on the walls, providing aesthetics that are clean and functional. Throughout the year, Curtil hosts trunk shows, and customers are invited to see the entire collections of various eyewear designers. Thirty years in optics has only re-invigorated Curtil’s enthusiasm and passion for eyewear. He also understands that superior frames and service, plus a very personal approach to clients is a recipe for success. www.brunocurtil.frJG
1st May 2015 Cologne is the cultural centre of The Rhineland, with numerous and fascinating museums and art galleries. It is also home to an amazing selection of optical shops. Augenweide Optik is an elegant oasis where customers can discover international brands that fosters optical style. “Customers in Cologne love design,” says optician Michael Franzen, “but it must not be loud design; they prefer soft design with no logos. Clients are very reserved and refined, but want the best quality.”
Franzen opened the shop with his business partner Wilfred Wirtz twenty-one years ago, and they have experienced various eyewear evolutions during this time. “We have grown with our customers since we opened, and our clientele is professional men and women who are architects, lawyers, and teachers.” The shop features la crème de la crème of independent labels, including Orgreen, LGR, Lindberg, Götti, Rolf, Face à Face and WOOW, theo, l.a.Eyeworks, and the speciality German brand Wolfgang Katzer. “There are approximately over 300 optical shops in Cologne – I believe it is the most in Europe,” says Franzen, “and the reason for this is probably because there is an excellent School of Optometry here. When students graduate, they want to stay in Cologne, and open their own shop, so the majority of shops are independent.”
Augenweide is one hundred and fifty square meters, so the feeling is delightfully open, airy and welcoming. Beige and cocoa tones, with black floors, and beautiful, warm wood panelling and cabinets further enhance the ambience. Large windows offer the possibility of spacious displays, and during Eyestylist’s visit, the decoration included lavish flower paintings by a local designer, in bright spring colours, along with cheerful flowerpots, and beautiful frames. Discover more at www.augenweide.deJG
Coterie’s new store in Chengdu is its 10th to date. The independent chain champions top level collections, international independent designers and artisan labels, including Anna-Karin Karlsson, a-morir, Mykita and Thierry Lasry.
“In our Chengdu store,” explains David Leung, “we also launch Vava, Lapis and Coco & Breezy. We allocate certain brands exclusively to each location, depending on demographic and positioning in the area.” The store is in a newly opened shopping area – Taikoo Li, where Hermes, Givenchy, Chloe, Apple, and Maria Luisa have all opened flagships in recent months.”
“It seems to us that Chinese consumers are starting to move toward specialised designer eyewear labels. In general, we see more openness to quality design products than we did a few years ago when we first started,” explains Leung.
Asked about further expansion, Leung says while there is much interest abroad, Coterie plans to innovate in other ways, through new collaborations, a wider accessories offering and a unique shopping experience for consumers in China.
“We believe good quality, inspiring design, and value for money are always the criteria for consumers’ selections. Regarding trends, we have seen in the last year a particular interest in mirrored lenses, combination and oversized frames overall.” Find out more about Coterie at www.coterie.cnCN
1st March 2015With a history that stretches back to the First Century, Saint-Malo has been through numerous trials and triumphs – including Corsairs, pirates and bombing. Nowadays, the charming walled city on the sea is a favourite destination for global visitors. Also with an extensive history is Benic Opticiens in Saint Malo, which opened in the late 19th Century. “Benic is a very old boutique,” reflects Guillaume Jourdes, Benic’s owner and an optician, “and the shop was known for telescopes, barometers, and magnifying glasses, all items necessary for the sea.”
The 21st Century Benic Opticiens is a comfortable, spacious boutique located on a cobblestone street that leads to the sea. The atmosphere is very friendly, and the décor gives the feeling of being in a cared for and well loved home. Jourdes worked in Lyon and Rennes before taking over Benic in 2012. He completely transformed the shop into an oasis for independent brands including theo, Caroline Abram, Thierry Lasry, Andy Wolf, Mykita and Anne et Valentin, among others. A local artist creates eyeglass cases exclusively for Benic.
Being in a location that is known for summer holidays, does this affect business? “Fortunately, not any more,” says Jourdes, “because people come to Saint-Malo year ’round. Yes, July and August are our busiest months, but there are so many events – including Festivals, The Route du Rhum, and Christmas is busy – so there is always something going on. Tourism is important, and we also have a local clientele who live here full time.” Jourdes notes that people on holiday are more likely to browse and look in a relaxed manner for frames. Both the frame selection and the ambience at Benic Opticiens are so inviting, it’s easy to understand why! 25, rue de Dinan 35400 Saint-Malowww.benicopticiens.comJG
“Who cares about brands? Care about eyewear.” Leidmann
After several visits to Munich, Eyestylist was delighted to visit the Leidmann boutique last month. Directed by Philipp Foret, this Leidmann location is a much talked about eyewear haven that opened on Maximilanstrasse in 2013, the third optical outlet created by Munich optician Chris Leidmann – and one to go out of your way for if you are in this part of the world.
Designed by local architects Kirsten Scholz and Stephanie Thatenhorst, the spacious interior combines a modern, international setting for fine eyewear with the atmosphere of a charming artisan eyewear factory. Showcasing elegant natural materials – untreated oak and leather, alongside concrete and steel, the effect is dramatic and elegant and perfectly in tune with Philipp Foret’s observation that natural artisan eyewear has carved a niche for itself at the luxury end of the market and, that in Germany, it has a particularly enthusiastic and established following.
Featured collections for 2015 at this branch of Leidmann include first-class brands Hapter, Barton Perreira, Thom Browne, REIZ, Ralph Vaessen, Eyevan and Onono. A buffalo horn house label – Foret Leidmann has also been created especially for the store. Each and every label is beautifully arranged in hidden drawers in the wall, -(we opened a drawer ourselves to find a stunning display of Italian Hapter designs) and on minimal wood shelving where individual designs are highlighted under dramatic state-of-the-art lighting.
When a finished frame is ready for collection, a special presentation awaits every new owner: the frame is arranged in a striking display in a huge wood-clad island at the centre of the store, a touch that underlines the value and quality of each design and the appreciation the owners have for the finest design, quality and materials – in both eyewear and lens choices.
Iconic store opens doors to Danish titanium collection
28th January 2015The OG flagship store in London is now stocking Danish label Ørgreen, following the alliance between the two brands, announced last September (http://www.eyestylist.com/2014/09/designers-unite/). Arriving just in time for Spring, the Copenhagen brand does fine titanium frames and sunglasses with an emphasis on sleek modern styling in accessible style-driven colourways.
Try a classic style like Observer (above) for super comfort and up to the minute refinement or go a little bit more wild and fashion savvy with the excellent Visionaire, a modified pince-nez inspired design with circular eye shape; the brilliant modern colours include mat Olympian blue with sandblasted titanium.