Following our launch in January, we have been searching for this month’s inspirational designs, designers, and new launches. The creative possibilities in eyewear are awe-inspiring, and by profiling individual frame designs we are hoping to uncover all kinds of clever solutions and achievements…whether it’s a frame in wood that is free from any components, such as those made by Rolf Spectacles, or a joint or hinge such as the 3Click™ by Sutro, so meticulously conceived that it becomes a key part of the overall aesthetic, as well as the primary functional joint between the frame front and the temples.
London, 24th February, 2011 – Sunglasses are generally well represented at London Fashion Week both on and off the catwalks, thanks to British fashion favourite Cutler & Gross whose vintage shades are always a popular fashion editor’s choice. Specs tend to get slightly less of a showing, although I’ve been sent a few images this year…this one features Andy Wolf Eyewear which got an amazing showing on the models at the Irwin & Jordan show on Friday.
Andy Wolf Eyewear is based in Austria where its products are handmade. Launched in 2006, the brand has become known as a niche label offering style and elegance and beautifully crafted vintage effect styling…but without compromising on the functionality and wearability of the product. Hoping to see this one again in Milan next week. CN
I have known Thierry since the 1990s; he looks like a rockstar and he’s the designer of clever, cool, underground eyewear; he’s totally passionate about eyewear design as many designers in the business are…he’s always shown me his frames with such great enthusiasm that I come away impressed by the creativity, the excitement he manages to inject into his styles, and the way he manages to put his stamp on his designs…he’s certainly very popular with celebrities, and you can see why – the designs are always special or make an independent statement. Model Sexxxy is just that (with one “x”); its sister shape, model “Lively” is one that Madonna has been seen in time and again, and Sexxxy provides that lovely reminder of vintage shapes of the past, in a futuristic concept – the temples look as if they have been designed by an architect, the chunky quality of the black acetate is a wonderful camouflage (you can see why the famous faces would like it to hide behind) and yet it has an eloquent shape. CN
Today, model Wyatt by Mykita is sitting on my desk and has caught my eye. It’s a unisex frame that has a slick shape while being as light as a feather. There are different colour options, including this gold one and the stunning black I have in front of me. Mykita’s Collection No.1 has a clever, patented “snap-hinge”. This means the hinge does not require any soldering or screws and it is therefore particularly good-looking; it adds to the design, and makes a quirky snapping sound when you open and close the temple. Sunglasses in the No.1 line come in a variety of metal surfaces, with a choice of lacquer coatings. Continue reading “No.1 Sun Wyatt”→
Aviators are the number one sunglass design for Spring/Summer 2011, with all kinds of interpretations available for men and women. Danish designers Ørgreen have come up with this angular, oversized model which is the look I think many will be wanting to find in the months ahead, particularly in this shade of white which is going to be a big thing come the new season:
“Ørgreen keeps one eye in the future and the other in the past with the launch of 12 fresh new frames for 2011,” said a spokesperson for the company. “Sleek Danish design advances in a new streamlined direction with lightweight titanium, beta titanium and acetate frames in colours ranging from earthy to jewel luster.”
Frames from this energetic young Danish company are individually handcrafted in Japan for a good balance of fashion and function. CNwww.orgreen.dk
I’ve got a bit of a thing about crystal at the moment so I’ve selected an example here that is really outstanding. This frame is made from transparent acetate combined with leather, yes, beautiful, tactile leather….The designer Stephane Sarnin is one of few in the spectacle business who specialises in leather designs.
Much of the work is done by hand by Stephane in a workshop – a finish like this could not ever be mass produced. The whole collection is quite astounding given the complexities of assembling the materials and combining leather with other more commonly used materials like acetate. I can also recommend the styles using embossed leathers with beautiful antique patterning. They are very original. CNwww.histoire-de-voir.com
Acetate is a versatile material for frames and the opportunity to use colourful handmade acetates is never wasted by designers Christian Roth and Eric Domege, who were two of the first spectacle creators to set trends (in the 1980s and 1990s) and dictate the look of the moment…this pair of sunglasses, pictured in orange, is also available in classic havana. It has a strong oversize square eye shape, and the acetate has a special striated pattern which gives it a unique handmade, vintage feel; the light orange tinted lenses which allow the eyes to be seen below them unite with the frame to create a style which is unusual and playful. CNwww.christian-roth.com
The Blinde Collection is one of several brands under the auspices of Optical Shop International – creators of diva glasses for women and truly trendsetter styles for men. Fess Up is a luxurious handmade creation, with a hint of Retro, in Italian and Japanese acetate zyl. There is a genuine feel-good factor with these glasses even in your hand, that translates onto your face when wearing them. The finely bevelled temple, custom hinges and wonderfully expressive colours – like the Royal Purple featured – insure that Fess Up is a pleasure to wear. JGwww.opticalshopinternational.com
Eyewear designers Gai Gherardi and Barbara McReynolds were among the first to create exciting frames in unexpected colourations. That was in the early 1980’s, and since then, loyal followers (including me!) around the globe seek their colour adventures in frames. The California-based design team are a wellspring of unique ideas for eyewear. Elton John and Arnold Schwarzenegger head a star-studded list of wearers who covet the flare, fashion and fit that is an essential with every frame. Tuba is a good example of Gai and Barbara’s creativity with modern shaping and experimental use of colour. Creamy, soft buttery acetate is counter coloured with rich chocolate sculpted along the bold brow – it’s subtle and chicly sophisticated. The frame is also available in an elegant blue on blue and black and green. You can find fashion forward frames by l.a.eyeworks in London at Mallon & Taub on Marylebone High Street and Ste Maral optic in Paris. JGwww.laeyeworks.com
Vanessa & Mehdi design frames with amazing engineering feats. In 2007, they won a coveted Silmo D’Or (an Oscar equivalent in eyewear) and they bring a unique style to their creations, with ethereal, futuristic elements combined with technological innovation. Their frames have a mechanism designed in mould-injected metal that ensures a micrometric adjustment, so that every frame has a customized fit for the temples and frame front. The lenses on these particularly distinctive frames, give the illusion of “floating”, and purple is just one of several delicious colours in which these frames are available.You can find these frames and other innovative designs by Vanessa & Mehdi at Blanco Optica in Valladolid, Spain and Optique Milbert in Remich, Luxembourg. JGwww.vanessaetmehdi.com
A favourite treat when I’m in Switzerland is to watch (and listen!) to the cows on the hill above the mountain village where I’m fortunate to stay. Cows are one of the inspirations for the exclusive, recently launched Swiss frame company – Zuërihorn. A creative team of four – Jonas Herde, Livio Notaro, Patrick Basler and Daniel Ferrari – have launched a stunning collection of handmade frames in South American water buffalo horn and Italian silk. Yes, silk. Fine silk is painstakingly worked into the razor-thin horn layers. The result is an exquisite luxury frame that is a mixture of artisanal traditions and modern technology. Baldi, in smooth, polished horn, is sculpted into a classic shape that men particularly like to wear. The piece de resistance is carved into the sidepieces– three little 18K gold cows on each side. Irresistible! Available at Götte Optik in Zurich: www.goetteoptik.ch and L’Osservatorio Venturi SRL, Via Flaminia Vecchia, Rome. JG
This frame lives up to its name! Flirt is a design with playful charm and style, in acetate and titanium, created by Lafont, the French company with a noble heritage. Edging close to ninety years of Parisian optical history, the family owned firm is an oasis for distinctive, creative eyewear. This particular frame is modern, feminine and boasts intricate details in the lacy pattern of titanium over caramel acetate. Other colour combinations include violet and black, and a very flirtatious red and black. I wear Lafont frames, and appreciate the uniqueness of the designs, the comfort, and the wonderful service that is available in their four Parisian shops, and at Optik Mayer in Munich. JG
Check out further details on www.lafont.com. This month’s optical reviews are by Joan Grady. The sunglass reviews are by Clodagh Norton.
Necklaces, spectacle cases and decorative lorgnettes…
I have enjoyed finding these colourful eyewear accessories, by some of the specialists in decorative spectacle chains, lorgnettes and cases. Filao Paris is run by Caroline Abram, who shows great creative talent in designing these beautiful pieces, but also now creates her own sunglasses and specs…Caroline uses a variety of materials for the jewellery and accessories, including wood, crystals and felt…Filao Paris has its headquarters in Paris…the creations are put together in a Senagalese workshop, supporting members of the local community. www.filaoparis.com
Also featured here is a young, vibrant company from Spain called Flippan Look (Image 3.) which is specialising in contemporary lorgnettes that can be worn as jewellery around the neck. www.flippanlook.com
French eyewear brand Face à Face has, for some years now, produced a range of chains and necklaces (Image 5.) which coordinate with the company’s stunning frames and sunglasses. They use a variety of materials, acetates that match the glasses, to lovely metals including silver. www.faceaface-paris.com CN
Images 1. Filao Paris 2. Filao Paris 3. Flippan Look 4. Filao Paris 5. Face à Face 6. Filao Paris.
The innovative sunglasses line ‘Cabrio’ differentiates itself by the use of new materials. The designer has invented a special technique of creasing, folding and manual manipulation of the laminated plastic, which determines the desirable shape. The sophisticated material on the outside is combined each time with polypropylene in different colours on the inside and this gives a casual and sporty accent. This is a young collection, presenting a totally novel idea: hat and shades in one. When you try the models on, they are surprisingly wearable…Cabrio Elan, the one pictured, is retailing at around 159 euros. CN
La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, Casanova, Juliet of the Spirits, Amarcord – each film is a revered classic by the iconic Italian film director, Federico Fellini. Also destined to be a timeless classic is the handsome Fellini frame, designed by Thomas Lafont, inspired by the director. Pure, smooth titanium with a protective PVD treatment is moulded into this elegant, strong, structured shape for men. The Limited Edition design is crafted to Lafont’s exacting standards. A new concept, a new wave in men’s eyewear. Lafont blazes trails, just like Federico Fellini. JGwww.lafont.com
Sutro Vision from San Francisco recently caught my eye. Their sunglasses feature a hinge creation which really stands out. And after looking into it a bit, I’ve found out, with great pleasure, that this brand is all about craftsmanship, a direction that is being revived in eyewear at the moment. Sutro has a signature 3Click™ Hinge, fitted on all its frames. This clever technological innovation provides strength and durability; it’s made of surgical stainless steel. It also provides a unique design detail. Sutro explains that this is the only frame hinge created with 3 clicks, hence its name. Continue reading “Hinge innovation”→
This is a very fresh Austrian brand, winning prizes for their spectacle designs in wood. I’ve just caught site of some of their new shapes. This is a style made from maple, but you can also choose walnut, even bog oak. Each design is handcrafted in the mountains of Austria by a team of young passionate individuals who have an amazing commitment to product development and innovation. They have invented a hinge created out of compressed wood, so there are no metal parts at all in these designs. CN
The first thought that usually pops to mind with Swarovski is their legend of shimmering crystals transformed into beautiful jewellery. Finely cut crystals, artisanal craftsmanship and innovative design are all part of the Swarovski history, that began in 1895. However, this is just one aspect of the Austrian based company.
I attended a Press Day in London for Swarovski, where they unveiled their new eyewear styles for 2011, and I was able to view, and try on their exquisite collection of eyewear that truly sparkles. The company’s “Swanflower” motif – a delicate swan shaped to form a flower – is integrated into the designs. Among my favourites is the model Aquarelle, a romantic frame in metal and acetate, with the small “Swanflower” on the edge of the lenses. These ultra-glamorous, precision-made frames are a delight to wear. JGwww.swarovski.com
Kirk Orginals have long had their headquarters in Covent Garden…but all has changed..a newly designed one has opened in Conduit Street, just near Regent’s Street, in the centre of London…and what a joy to see such a thing. There are so many eyewear brands opening their stores around the world, London was just waiting for this…
I visited a few days ago for the launch party. This is a very contemporary looking optician’s store showing the full Kirk Originals’ repertoire of frames, which are exhibited in a fun, accessible way: each frame is like a work of art, displayed on white faces with expressive “lenticular” eyes that change as the customer moves around. The interior and window displays are inspired by the Kirk Originals’ Kinetic Collection, a line which uses lenticular printing (the technical term for this type of “moving” almost 3 dimensional, colour-changing imagery) to decorate the temples of the glasses.
In addition, director of the brand, Jason Kirk has hand-picked two international eyewear brands that are available here exclusively: the very dashing Leisure Society collection, which is a luxurious treat with high prices but incredible design, clever detailing and lots of West Coast pizzazz: I have seen this line in its entirety recently, and it certainly stands out. And there is also Undostrial, an industrial, street brand from France that offers a slightly more conservative but nicely created range of colourful specs, primarily in metal. Indications are that there are more exciting brands coming soon. CN
Necessity is the mother of invention, wrote Plato, centuries ago. And it was necessity that sparked the concept for an unusual eyewear boutique in Berlin.
Uta Geyer looked for a vintage frame when she started wearing glasses. Her profession was as a theatre decorator, so she was always looking for vintage accessories, which she loves. When she could not find a frame she liked – she opened her own store – in fact two shops, specialising in vintage eyewear. The first boutique, on the Marienburger is a charming little oasis in seventeen square metres. The latest jewel on the Torstrasse is bigger – fifty square meters that she opened in 2010.
The Torstrasse boutique is fresh and inviting – pristine white is the perfect, unobtrusive background for an astounding collection of vintage frames. Plus, authentic furniture from 1950’s optical shops add to the allure. Clients can happily browse and try on vintage frames that are perched on top of the dark wood cabinets. Uta says that people have a continuing fascination with vintage eyewear.
“The quality of these old frames is amazing, much better than most contemporary mass production,” she observes, “and vintage designs are more individual, and not as streamlined as today’s eyewear. This is probably because designs are now made by 3D programmes, and not drawn on paper anymore. Many of the frames are one of a kind, and people love the idea of having something just for themselves. However, it’s harder and harder to find authentic vintage frames.” Continue reading “Lunettes Collection Torstrasse, Berlin”→
Babou brings an intriguing international background to her designs for Butcher Couture – leather frames that are created with her philosophy of “Slow Design”. That is the term that the designer uses for her framecreations that are made with traditional manufacturing processes, and working with skilled craftspeople and artisans. She is also an avid believer in using natural materials whenever possible, and likes to design frames that merge both style and functionality.
I had the pleasure of meeting the personable and charming designer last summer in Paris, and was impressed not only with her innovative frames, but her philosophy and unconventional approach to frame design.
Babou was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but grew up primarily in the UK, and attended University in England. She now divides her time between Oslo and London, perfecting her craft of Optical Tailoring in frames, which are made in France – giving a global flavour to her products.
She emphasises that the overall focus of Butcher Couture is to offer design, quality and to evoke timelessness. In addition to frames available in boutiques, customers are able to purchase and commission frames on a made-to-order basis, and clients can choose from a selection of leathers, threads and various finishes. “I’ve always enjoyed a love affair with leather, which I believe is inherently linked to my love of all things craft and artisan,” she says, “and since starting Butcher Couture in 2007, my passion for leather is a crescendo into somewhat of a full blown obsession. Continue reading “Babou Olengha”→