21st September 2011 Taschen, the publisher of books on art, architecture, design and photography has opened an impressive store in the heart of Amsterdam (another excuse to visit this wonderful city). With shops in many idyllic capitals around the world including Paris, New York and Copenhagen, the new flagship in P.C. Hooftstraat showcases the entire range of books available from the publisher….look out for one on eyewear which we will be reviewing soon….CN
Taschen Store Amsterdam, P.C. Hooftstraat 44, 1071 BZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Tragic Heroines of The Palais Garnier from 1875 to 1939
12th September 2011 Opera divas are powerful goddesses, and intricately linked to opera history. The exhibition Tragédiennes de L’Opéra traces some of the singers from 1875 to 1939, who left a lasting impression on opera and Palais Garnier. Founded by King Louis XIV, the stunning structure that stands today was initiated by Emperor Napoleon III during the Second Empire. Austrian diva Gabrielle Krauss performed at the gala Opera opening in 1875. Other singers who form part of the musical history include Rose Caron, Lina Cavaliera (shown above in THAÏS by Jules Massenent in 1907 – photo: BmO, GF 163) Lucienne Bréval who entranced opera goers at Garnier for 30 years, and Mary Garden who shocked audiences with her scandalous Salomé. Through an intriguing collection of costume sketches, photographs, objects from the original productions, jewellery and paintings, plus rare documents, the exhibition illustrates how opera is enriched by its divas. Until 25th Septembre. www.operadeparis.frJG
7th September Wink Optometrists is an independent eyewear boutique in Melbourne, Australia who introduced me to Karen Walker. “As an optical shop, we are unique,” explains owner Jo Twaddell. “We match customers with frames that enhance their own personality and fit their specific needs. So, rather than just filling shelves with ordinary, mass-produced stock, most of our frames are handmade and some can even be ordered to the customer’s requirements.”
“One of our favourite brands is Karen Walker eyewear. Karen Walker is a prominent womenswear designer from New Zealand, and her foray into eyewear design has been particularly successful because she delivers a product which is quirky and unexpected, rather than a carbon-copy of a pre-existing style. Walker takes risks with everything in her range, from her colourways to her advertising. She designs sunglasses that make a statement of confidence and individuality. As such, the brand is perfect for our store!”
“Another unusual brand that we stock is RVS By V. Inspired by his father’s optical collection as a child, designer Vidal has created a collection of vintage shapes with a fresh eye. The collection is available in a range of bold, matte colours, recreating iconic styles for the modern glasses-wearer. The range is handmade in Turkey and WINK Optometrists is the exclusive Melbourne stockist of the brand.”
6th September 2011 Brilmuseum in Amsterdam is a paradise for eyewear lovers. This quirky, enchanting little museum is a celebration of 700 years of eyewear that includes historical frames, optical instruments, posters, photos, and much more. Mijke Teunissen, the fourth generation of a Netherlands optical family says: “The goal is to illustrate the history, art, culture and development of spectacles.” The adventure begins with eyewear from the 15th century through to the amazing designs from Pierre Marly in the 1960’s, to the acclaimed designers of today – Lafont, l.a.eyeworks, J.F. Rey, Oakley, Christian Roth, Judith Leiber, and many more star-studded names. Repeat visits to this oasis of eyewear fascination is always a pleasure. www.brilmuseumamsterdam.nl
If Amsterdam isn’t on your immediate travel itinerary, the next best way to “visit” is to get a copy of Spectacles & Sunglasses published by Pepin Press/Amsterdam www.pepinpress.comJG
In a month where not one but two key eyewear exhibitions take place (Vision Expo West and Silmo), we look forward to an exciting time, seeing what’s coming up in terms of trends, colours and new launches. We will be reporting on what we think stands out, in previews through September and in the months following these two international shows. As well as introducing a variety of exceptional collections and designs, including some gems from as far afield as Australia, we will be reporting on some favourite finds in the luxury collections. See you in Paris! CN
26th September 2011 Laser engraving technology has become increasingly used in eyewear for a variety of effects on the surface of the frame. This exciting design is a very good example, with its modern textured effect and out-there gold colour scheme. It comes from J.F. Rey, the French brand from Marseille. Inspired by the graphic arts, the design has been shortlisted for the Silmo d’Or design award this week. For more on J.F. Rey visit www.jfrey.frCN
26th September California based Sama Eyewear has a twofold agenda with the creation of these sunglasses – to design a unique, luxurious frame, and to help young people. The above frame was introduced to celebrate the company’s 10th Anniversary of “Fashion with a Cause.” The net profits from sales of the Heart of Gold series goes to the Sam Vance Foundation to aid young adults with drug additions. Fabricated in pure Titanium, the concept was to create an extraordinary frame that brings absolute attention to the impact of eyewear as “THE” most important accessory. Multi-dimensional jewellery casting, and custom coloured Swarovski crystals add to the allure. Stunning! www.samaeyewear.comJG
22nd September 2011 For over 150 years, the Swiss firm Chopard has been creating exquisite jewellery and watches. Their understanding of luxury and craftsmanship is also expressed in their beautiful eyewear collection, merging creative artistry with eyewear technology. The finely toned acetate frame above, features silver coloured metal sides, gracefully entwined with Swarovski crystals and crystallized pearls – the latter made of unique crystal core covered with a pearl coating. Advantages of Swarovski Crystal Pearls include their high resistance against sunlight, washing and perfume – therefore the pearl finish will endure. More info at www.chopard.comJG
20th September 2011 Some wonderful pictures have come through from LFW…these are some favourite backstage shots at designer Zoe Jordan’s catwalk show, featuring oversized catseyes in acetate and metal versions from Austrian label Andy Wolf. The frames were perfectly in tune with the collection, paired with classic yet modernized silhouettes and very British fabrics and references (headscarves, tweeds and cricket jumpers) with traits of the 1930s. CN
14th September 2011 The new British label RockOptika will present its debut 10 piece optical collection at Silmo this month…I had a coffee with Tom in his bijoux Hasting’s shop (www.theopticallounge.co.uk) this week, and he showed me the full collection…mixing old-school vintage with some idiosyncratic details, the shapes are designed to be wearable yet bubble with personality, the colours fit perfectly into the new season, including a lovely transparent sea blue and a chic crimson, and each model works just as beautifully with sun as with prescription lenses.
“My aim is to make the frames I have always wanted to make….taking vintage elements and resizing them to make them wearable. I am very conscious of the aesthetics, and injecting something of my own character and a British eccentricity, but I also wanted quality and high-level production.”
Designed by Tom in the UK and produced in the Jura, the designs are made from Italian acetate…with some patterned variations featuring…an antique lace motif, and a vintage-look tortoise. As owner of an optical boutique, Tom has a true understanding of the needs of frame wearers in terms of fit and comfort. But he also has an appreciation for the minutiae of eyewear. Little touches such as the larger end tips are there to fit nicely behind the ear as well as adding a quirky touch. Available in the UK at McClintock Eyewear www.mcclintock-eyewear.co.uk. For more information visit www.rockoptika.co.ukCN
12th September 2011 Continuing with our luxury frame theme, we are pleased to present this stunning new design from the Lindberg Precious collection. Fine, smooth horn and lightweight titanium merge in a contemporary shape, exquisitely crafted. The pure simplicity and flow of the frame expresses both a subtle and a strong statement simultaneously. The Danish based company has amassed international fans for their elegant designs these past 40 years, and regal patronage in their homeland. In 2009, Queen Margrethe II bestowed a Royal Warrant to Lindberg. For further information: www.lindberg.comJG
9th September 2011 Just in on my desk, these elegant sunglasses are as beautiful on the inside as on the outside! With Davies’ amazing technical skills, this design has the appearance of being “reversed” – as if the inside has been transformed onto the frame front. The above design is one of an exciting, bespoke Limited Edition collection in Double Bloc Titanium – an original and beautiful concept that illustrates the artistry of Tom Davies. The frames, for men and women, were originally designed for royalty. I particularly like the classy sculptured frame front, with its gentle flow. Further information at www.tdtomdavies.comJG
6th September 2011 Gertrud by Isson, with its overtones of the Bauhaus period, has the appearance of marble…these frames, and the others in the collection are made from vintage acetate and feature pearlescent light reflecting finishes in tortoiseshell, flecked patterning, rocks and layered acetate.
Gertrud (above) is pictured in the mouthwatering colour “banana split”, and also comes in “fleckle”, a name that beautifully reflects the effect of the acetate. They are typical examples of this Australian sunglass range and we can’t wait to see them up close! www.isson.com.au
Vintage marbling effects, which look likely to be an interesting trend in the month’s ahead, are also seen in Pierre Eyewear’s collection launching this month…here is a sneak preview of two of the lovely idiosyncratic optical styles by Pierre that come in elegant varieties of deeply coloured/patterned acetate. www.pierre-eyewear.comCN
5th September 2011 The French designer Caroline Abram of Filao Paris is to launch these frame holders in horn and wood at the end of September. With so few companies in this field doing original accessory styles, these are worth a look if you can find them! Wood and horn are on-trend materials which are easy and comfortable to wear as frame “holders” or necklaces, very pretty and very practical if you are wearing stylish spectacles or reading glasses you don’t want to put down, and forget where you’ve put them …for more information on this company visit their website, one of our favourite “animated” sites, at www.filaoparis.comCN
2nd September 2011 This month we are featuring luxury frames – eyewear designs in exquisite materials and sometimes, with beautiful jewels. Luxury and glamour are benchmarks of the eyewear collections by Christian Roth and Eric Dommage. They possess a genuine feel and flair for elegant shapes, in haute couture materials, masterfully crafted. “The diamonds are definitely real”, says Roth, of the sophisticated frame (above) in hand-made silky black acetate. The diamonds are set in sterling silver on the gently curved frame front. Diamonds – and this frame – are forever! www.christian-roth.comJG
I spoke with Luca Gnecchi Ruscone over the summer by phone, and was immediately struck by his genuine enthusiasm for eyewear design, and fascination for the rediscovery of lost craftsmanship.
” In 2002, while I was accompanying by grandfather on a trip to Eritrea, I made a discovery which changed my life, and has brought me to this point with the brand L.G.R. which is really just at the beginning, we have so much more to tell.
My grandfather had lived in Eritrea for 40 years; he was a war photographer and after the war ended he decided to stay in Eritrea, and opened four photographic shop which became known as Foto Ottica Bini. He became a representative for Leika and other brands like Kodak. He then started importing frames and lenses, but not long after he became a shoe manufacturer for the local market. The shops became his second business. In 1974, with the revolution he had to leave and he lost everything. Quite amazingly, in 2000 the government called my grandfather to say that he would get some of his properties in Eritrea back, including one of the optical stores and the apartment above it.
I accompanied him on this trip back in 2002 – he was 92 and I was a graduate at the time. I stayed for one month in Asmara, a beautiful place with an incredible climate. I loved the atmosphere. I decided to drive around and visit the coast, but I needed some sunglasses…when I went downstairs in my grandfather’s shop and talked to my father’s colleague Bruno I looked in some closets and I found some incredible frames….and beautiful vintage lenses…Bruno fitted lenses in three pairs of sunglasses for me, and I was really impressed by how beautiful they were. At that point I decided to take 15 pairs back home to show friends and family and, as I was expecting, everybody was amazed that they were so wonderful.”
Months after this I was still getting emails from people asking for the sunglasses so I had more pairs sent over, and this allowed me to get the capital together to start my own business. By 2007 I started producing my own models. The first four models I produced were based on the original frames I had found in Eritrea…models Asmara, Keren, Massawa and Casablanca.”
Where do you produce your frames, how do you achieve true craftsmanship in the collections you are now designing, and quality that matches up to that of the frames you found in Africa? :”This is another beautiful side of what happened. I was running out of sunglasses, so I asked my grandfather how he thought I could create more with the same beautiful characteristics. He said go to Japan or China where you are living, and you will have them made cheaply and easily there. But I said no, these glasses have a history, they were made in the old way, how things were made in Italy before the economic boom in the 60s. Everything was made by an artisan and sold from the “bottega” in a very different way back then. So, I tracked down the address of the workshop near Prato where the frames were originally made and I just turned up there. An old lady opened the door, I explained who I was, and she said that her husband used to make the sunglasses, but that they had closed 20 years ago. Her husband showed me the warehouse where he used to make the frames, he had all the original machines and he explained the whole process to me. His eyes were shining it was very exciting and I couldn’t stop thinking about how we might get this working again. Now, just a few years on, we are producing the frames in Florence in this original workshop, and we have opened two other workshops including one in Naples.”
What will you launch for SILMO? “I am planning four new models of sunglasses and two new opticals. We are introducing two new colours of acetate which are very modern in a way, compared to what L.G.R. stands for, its classicism, its heritage. I want to show the market we are not just a vintage or retro brand. I want to show, and I have already given a first taste of this in our RAW LImited Edition which we presented three months ago, that we can achieve some modern and technical creations. We are introducing the polarised Neophan lenses, which offer incredible clarity – it’s a really unique eyewear experience. We are doing these lenses in a greenish blue called aquamarine and a vermillion.”
Does this mean you want to be an innovator in eyewear? “No, I want to bring back in some way what has been lost from the past, making no compromise with the price. I want to work towards offering the best quality lenses with the best quality frame at the right price. At the moment the brand is very exclusive as we have a very exclusive distribution, but this is just the beginning…. you have to start from the top and the rest will follow in time. I want to bring back what has been lost from the past to consumerism, we have cut away too many things and we have forgotten so much. I see this from my grandfather of how he speaks, how he eats, how he buys… and I respect so much these past attitudes in life. I want these aspects to be reflected in my glasses.” CN
Muffin Top comes from a fun, new limited edition collection of sunglasses (18 styles) by English designer Henry Holland for Australian brand Le Specs. Lots of round shapes and references to “brow shapes and eyelashes” feature (such as the Hoodies which the fashion press have selected as a favourite) as well as a 1980s/90s vintage theme. I like the sense of adventure in as much as there are some new shapes and looks that are totally unique to this Collection. Muffin Top is a unisex model like many of the styles in the line, and our favourite colour choices are the black (pictured) and transparent. It’s typical of the designer in its quirkiness and fun fashion styling, and yet it seems that it is surprisingly wearable…we’d love to see who is wearing it, all fans of this collection are welcome to send us their pictures…to buy now (RRP Euro 90 or £80 pounds sterling), go to www.asos.com or www.eyerespect.comCN
Model Vesoul by US brand Dita comes in this incredible colour called “blue swirl crystal” with dark grey gradient lenses. It’s got the hue of the Mediterranean and fits beautifully with our blue theme of the Summer which seems to continue into the Autumn collections. Handcrafted in Japan, the model is typical of Dita’s sunglass styles, which combine an equal helping of style and quality construction. This is a trendy shape this season and one I recommend strongly to those of you wanting a fashion look for 2011/12, in optical or sunwear. Available direct from www.dita.com and also at the Eye Company in Wardour Street, London (www.eye-company.co.uk) retailing at £290. CN
Mykita & Bernhard Willhelm, The Mirrored Collection
This collaboration is into its third year, and the metal styles in the A/W 2011 Collection maks a brow-raising statement as is typical of this German-born fashion designer, whose gold aviator sunglasses shot to fame in 2009 when worn by Sarah Jessica Parker for Sex in the City. Since then the collection has a total of four models, Franz, Sepp (copper/mint above left) and Andreas (red/red flash above centre), and a new one, Xaver, top right in gold/gold flash. This is a 1980s design, with sharper contours that its predecessors. The frame’s dimensions mark another new aspect – measuring 14 mm these are the widest temples featured in the metal collection. As well as the colour combinations above, you will also find silver, matt black and pink, a top 2011/12 colour for fashionistas. CN
New Zealand’s Karen Walker is known for original, effortless, unpretentious styling. Her eyewear is perhaps best know in the US and Australia, but we know some savvy European stockists which include the optical stores Les Plus Belles Lunettes, Paris and Blink Optics in Ionnina, Greece. Bunny like several designs in this colourful collection is a statement style with intriguing over-the-top shape.
I am pleased to introduce the Australian brand Isson on Eyestylist.com for the first time. Launching in Paris this month, their latest collection is inspired by Bauhaus, a movement which encouraged a radical experimentation in architecture and the applied arts. Model Martha is a memorable shape, and typical of the line, which uses vintage Italian and Japanese acetates, in pearlescent light reflecting finishes including tortoiseshell (pictured), fleckle and rocks, and layered acetates which house silk threads and metal shavings. Each model is named after key Bauhaus founders/designers such as Walter, Hermann, Martha and Gertrud. Model Martha is a unisex style, with an unusual shape, distinctive metal insert at the front, and thick temple. Isson’s designer Catherine Federici says, “Each piece requires its own set of rules. Who would wear it? Where would they wear it? How would it make them feel? By trying to tap into the psychology of the wearer, subtle design features such as shaping are being used to characterise each frame through its features. Be it a wide temple, temple tip design, or an angled front.” CN
The New York Yankees, The Big Apple, The Empire State – both nicknames – and Frank Sinatra belting I Love New York are iconic symbols of the American city. To that list can be added Moscot Eyewear, the Manhattan based company that has been producing its own frame icons for over a century. The Zolman (above) in flesh acetate is from the new collection, featuring the key attribute for the autumn season – the burgeoning trend for perfectly round shapes. Traditional values and craftsmanship are reflected in every frame. This cool and classic design has no exposed hardware, and a three-barrel hinge. Moscot Eyewear is available throughout Europe. Visit www.moscot.com for stock lists. JG
Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Meima and see his eyewear collection in his charming Parisian atelier. Meima is a master in working with acetate – his frames feature shapes that embody classic elegance, refinement and flow. I particularly like this style, with his signature acetate thickness at the temples, which gives depth and richness to the design, and the linear colour contrast on the frame front. Hand-made in France, the frames are beautifully crafted, and possess a definite “feel good” factor on the face. JG www.meima.fr
Alyson Magee is a delightful, creative Irish eyewear designer whose career I have followed with great interest for the past fourteen years. She was one of the founders of Face à Face, the award winning eyewear firm. Now she has launched a new collection which has just recently appeared in European boutiques, distributed by JDL in France. Alyson loves to work in acetate, her favourite eyewear material, and each pair of elegant, refined frames is handmade in France. With her Irish heritage, green frequently appears in the collections, such as the style above, gracefully paired with tortoise. The soft oval shape is extremely flattering,and the result is a beautifully crafted frame that is a real pleasure to wear. JG www.alysonmagee.com
We are fortunate to have a peek preview in advance of the new collection designed by Sven Götti – The Black Edition. There are four distinctive models – all in black – featuring the latest high tech assets and precision details. To ensure this reed-thin titanium frame retains its luscious black finish, a PVD (physical vapor deposition) process is used. And everything on the frame is Black – front, pads, earpieces, even the miniscule screws are black. Just a sliver of a silver hinge provides subtle contrast. Black is seductive, sensuous, secretive and elegant – Götti captures all these qualities with The Black Edition. JG www.gotti.ch
Quality and craftsmanship echo throughout CG Legacy – the collection of beautiful frames created by Claire Goldsmith. The young dynamo successfully resurrected the iconic Oliver Goldsmith brand, and is now pioneering her own great collection. Surtees, shown above, is one of Claire’s favourite designs, as it is named after a very dear friend. Sophisticated, delicious tones of chocolate and jade distinguish Surtees, with its elegant frame shape expressing modern vintage. The CG Legacy collection is available at the Oliver Goldsmith boutique in Notting Hill, 15 All Saints Road, London W11. CG Legacy can also be found at Browns on South Moulton Street, London W1, and in Amsterdam at Oogappel www.oogappel.comJG Further info at www.olivergoldsmith.com
1st September 2011 Lafont Eyewear always find the best locations. For their fifth boutique in Paris, they have chosen the area known as Passy, in the 16th arrondissement. The area has an intriguing history, as Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin, the first U.S. Ambassador to France, lived in Passy from 1777 to 1785. At that time, Passy was a village in the suburb of Paris, and Franklin a beloved resident. Nowadays, Passy is an eclectic mix of foreign embassies, beautiful apartment buildings and great shopping. Franklin, who wore glasses, would be delighted to find Lafont’s newest two-level boutique, in a classical French building, decked out in the company’s signature colours of rich hunter green and aubergine.
Their diverse collections of ophthalmic eyewear and sunglasses for men and women are elegantly presented in wood and glass armoires, and on customized shelves, from which customers can try on their favourite styles. The first floor is devoted to frames for youngsters. Lafont eyewear designs have superb kid appeal, and the collection of antique toys grabs attention too – for children and adults. You can always count on superb service at Lafont – not just when purchasing your frames – after sales care is attentive and friendly. This boutique is a little gem for true French eyewear – designed in France, made in France. JG www.lafont.com
1st September 2011 This Australian brand, exhibiting at the Paris show SILMO this month, is releasing some exciting block colours for the new season. Colour is big for winter, as an alternative to dark classics. Jono Hennessy proposes a Limited Edition featuring flouro pink (love this shade), crimson and bright blue. This range features sharp fashion shapes for women, with pretty embossed temple markings. The Jono Hennessy label is available in Europe at Frames in the Lanes, Brighton (www.framesinthelanes.com), SES Optikk, Oslo (www.sesoptikk.no) and Herve Domar, Paris (www.hervedomar.com). www.jonohennessy.comCN