Eyewear Inspiration

Throughout the year, we have seen numerous collections, and the amazing potential for eyewear is boundless. This month we review ten designs with imaginative concepts and creativity. Our Designer of the Month is an inspirational young Australian firm brimming with new ideas. During November, we’ll be presenting a variety of Boutiques, each with a unique concept or history. Winter holidays are rapidly approaching, and we’ll be suggesting gift ideas with great appeal. Click on City Guides for what’s happening in various cities in art, books, auctions, music, restaurants and hotels!  Follow Eyestylist for continuing inspiration, discoveries, and opportunities……JG

Baby R01


29th November 2011 If there is a little girl on your holiday gift list, here is an ideal present for a future fashionista – colourful sunglasses from Zoobug. Created by eye surgeon Dr. Julie Le, she is very aware about eye care for youngsters, and she has an instinctive feel for what appeals to the young set. The Mini frames (above) feature UV 400 polycarbonate shatterproof lenses, and rubber tips ensure that the frames stay put on little faces. Children will love the variety of cheerful colours! Available in London at Harrods and Marie Chantal, and at www.littlefashiongallery.com / www.zoobug.com   JG

Introducing Res / Rei Eyewear


28th November 2011 A friend in Italy has suggested to me to have a look at this brand….Res / Rei Eyewear, Handmade in Italy with Love. From what we hear, their first collection in acetate is rather lovely. Named after Roman emperors, the spectacles are inspired by these characters and their different personalities – pictured above, Adriano, in the elegant colour ‘Gladiator Red’.

The design of each frame has been realised to balance the weight of the frame on the face so it rests less on the nose and more on the ears, creating a design that can be worn throughout the day, without causing any discomfort, and ensuring a constant feeling of wellbeing. The brand is currently available at Gaillard Opticiens, Chartres, France, and Capello Centro Vista in Castelfranco Veneto, Italy, among other stores around Europe. We hope to have more on this soon. For more information visit  www.resrei.com CN


Cult Eyewear – An Author’s Passion

Eyestylist meets Neil Handley

25th November 2011 If you are an eyewear devotee and curious about social history, The British Optical Association Museum in London is the place to visit.  A personal tour by Curator Neil Handley adds richness and revelations to the experience. Handley is the author of the highly acclaimed book Cult Eyewear, an intriguing perspective on the iconic brands who redefined eyewear (image above, l.a. eyeworks “The Beat” 1980.) Fate has had a strong hand in Handley’s career – as an art historian with an Oxford degree, he took a temporary position with The College of Optometrists. “It was to be for twelve months,” recalls Handley, “and now it is thirteen years! I wasn’t in the eyewear field, so this has been amazing. The Museum was founded in 1901 – so it is 110 years old.  I feel that I am the temporary custodian of the collection, and it’s my job to keep it going, and lay the seeds for the future. The Museum is a cultural home for eyewear to which people can gravitate. We have fashion, art and design students who visit, and we encourage them to get involved. In 1997, we moved to this great building on Craven Street, an historic area in the heart of Charing Cross. Benjamin Franklin lived just a few doors away.

RVS by V. Robin. Photo: The College of Optometrists/Elliot Franks

“Working on the book required a lot of research with many discoveries. The first spectacles were not worn on the face, they were held in the hand, and designed to wear with a wig, the fashion of the time. Your character is brought out with what is on your nose. We found one box marked ‘junk’, and inside were the most incredible items – original, vintage frames and much more. Eyewear started as a craft, and the manufacturing techniques remain largely unchanged. The future lies in continuing good craftsmanship and quality.

Oliver Goldsmith 1985

“Britain is living up to its design standards today, but the manufacturing is being done elsewhere, as I’ve noted in the book. I hope it’s an eye opener! However, things come in waves, and there are high and low points in every story. There is always space for mavericks, but there are also lessons of history. There is no guarantee that certain companies will be around in two or three years; an awareness is needed to get through the hard times.” (Oliver Goldsmith image above: The College of Optometrists/Elliot Franks-Courtesy of Oliver Goldsmith).

Handley clearly enjoyed his research for Cult Eyewear. “You should have seen what was left out! Unfortunately, everything could not be included, but perhaps one day, there will be another book. The collections that we have here are certainly inspiring.”

Lafont 1970's acetate: O.PH.L-Lafont

With Handley’s meticulous eye for details and love of his subject matter, a sequel to Cult Eyewear is already eagerly anticipated. Published by Merrell www.merrellpublishers.com.

Museum visits by appointment only. Telephone +44 (0) 207 839 6000 www.college-optometrists.org/museum JG


Collegiate Chic from Leisure Society

23rd November 2011 California based Leisure Society endorses the enduring appeal of collegiate style with a collection of frames named after prestigious universities. One of my personal favourites is Cambridge (above), Shane Baum’s refined, preppy and superbly crafted frame in 100% titanium. The gold plates are available in 12k, 18k, or 24k, combined with Japanese cotton-base acetate temple tips – pure luxury! In addition, little details are precise with intricate multi-dimensional laser etching applied to the titanium and rim wire, with beautiful enamel insets. Twelve layer anti-reflective lenses, coated with Diamond Cast anti-scratch material, are state-of-the-art. Each frame is individually handmade and numbered in Japan by experienced artisanal craftsmen. www.leisure-society.com JG

Wowzers from Martyn Bal

22nd November Recently announced, Cutler & Gross have partnered up with Martyn Bal to produce Wowzers, a new sunglass collection. Bal says that he wanted the glasses to be “cool, neat and sharp”. I like the look of the crystal and also the version in “Ink Dream”. There are four colour choices in all.

Sunglasses by Martyn Bal


Available now from Cutler and Gross stores and the online shop http://shop.cutlerandgross.com/

For more details on Wowzers go to www.martynbal.com CN


Men’s style from Salt Optics


22nd November 2011 I really like the design of this optical frame…it delivers the new lighter looking, narrower shaping that takes geek chic to a a more sophisticated level. It’s a classic really, but fine tuned and superbly photographed to represent the direction in men’s eyewear. Salt Optics is a US brand we follow; it’s not so widely known in Europe but it’s readily available if you like what you see. I wear the sunglasses in the women’s range which offer feminine styling without drawing attention to itself in terms of decoration or logos. Stockists include Paris Miki, 33 avenue de l’Opéra, F-75002 Paris, Ottica Efrati, Rome (www.otticaefrati.com) and Burri Optik in Switzerland (www.burrioptik.ch), to pinpoint a few. More on Salt can be found at www.saltoptics.com CN



Boitier EK

Emmanuelle Khanh Paris

21st November 2011 A smart eyeglass case is indispensable for looking after your frames, and Emmanuelle Khanh has some beautiful styles this season. A particular favourite is this textured mini-clutch in an assortment of chic colours, plus all-important black. Frame protection is assured, and the metal clip is easy to open and close. Emmanuelle Khanh has an impressive collection of desirable eyewear accessories, including cases, chains, and magnifying glasses, for yourself  – or gift giving! You’ll find them at Les Plus Belles Lunettes du Monde in Paris, and Corso Como in Milan. www.emmanuellekhanhparis.com JG

Trend watch: three favourite flat tops

18th November 2011 This is a statement look for the year 2012…an aviator or wayfarer inspired shape (usually) with a flat browline….I love the way the French designers Anne et Valentin bring an elegance to the flat-shape in their optical style Factory 10 ……worn beautifully in the image above (www.anneetvalentin.com). Even in black it doesn’t look too harsh, it’s super feminine and we love the little old-school keyhole nose.

Other collections give the flat-top design a cool, urban interpretation and it just keeps on cropping up, particularly in the sunglass collections.  Tim Van Steenbergen’s Isidro, a pilot shape for men and women, gives the style an update by adding a very gently curve on the browline with an angular drop at the outer edges of the front; it also features the distinctive keyhole nose shape which is a detail we are delighted to see being brought back into the collections.

Isidro, Hierro Collection, Tim Van Steenbergen and Theo

This leather-look sunglass style is part of the impressive Limited Edition Hierro range by the Belgian fashion designer in collaboration with eyewear designers Theo; a range which is inspired by Spanish embroidery and traditional leather work and which pushes the boat out in terms of innovation in the design and decorative finishes. When I first held this style in my hand I thought it was covered in real leather, but actually it’s plastic that has an incredible finish like soft, natural leather. www.theo.be

The Walkabout by Paul Frank

Another example that leapt out at me when looking through the collections for 2012 was Paul Frank’s The Walkabout, a statement two-tone sihouette in acetate with subtle cutaways at the temple…an easy and relaxed choice for everyday wear and not too daring if you want cool and on-trend without over extravagance. www.paulfrank.com CN


Proof Sustainable Wood

An eco-friendly choice

17th November 2011 I have recently received a pair of sunglasses by Idaho based Proof Wood Eyewear…the model is one of their women’s styles, Cake, a simple but feminine shape featuring a matching brown polycarbonate lenses. The frames are offered in different woods such as bamboo and ebony, and have neat spring hinges and a tiny discreet logo etched into the temple. A quotation appears on the inside of the arm, customised from model to model. My pair is marked with the line: “My life is my message“. 

Set up in January this year, Proof is run by three brothers, from a family sawmill set up originally by their grandfather. The brothers aim is to produce fun, well made, well priced wood sunglasses (suited to all ages but definitely appealing particularly to 20 somethings) while also donating a portion of sales to charity. Proof is supporting sight giving surgeries in India and is also currently involved with the Native American Reservation, Africa and re-planting trees in Haiti.

Another nice touch is the fact that Proof offers a recycling programme…if you want to change your sunglass style, you can return your old pair of shades and get a discount on your next purchase. The old shades are recycled into animal bedding..to find out more about Proof and to see the full collection visit www.iwantproof.com CN


Perroquets for Christmas

Magnifying glasses from Filao Paris

16th November 2011 These adorable parrots are so cute – and useful! The charming magnifying/readers design, by Caroline Abram at Filao, is handy for small type and street maps, plus other necessities in fine print. Crafted in glossy acetate, the charming little creatures fold easily to slip into a pocket or purse. Available in bright, joyful colours of shocking pink, orange, forest green, burgundy, plus elegant black. Filao designs can be found in Paris at Les Créateurs D’Opta, 25 rue Abbesses 75018 Paris, and in Vienna at Siebenstern Handels optician. www.filaoparis.com JG

Winter gift guide

John Varvatos V801

14th November 2011 The season for gift giving rapidly approaches, and we have found some unusual, useful and chic eyewear ideas. Good things do come in little packages, like these splendid readers (above) from lifestyle designer John Varvatos. Beautifully crafted in antique gold and silver, and extremely comfortable to wear, they fold compactly into a little leather pouch case. The Transitions lenses provide clear viewing, and the distinguished nosepiece adds a smart touch. www.eyerespect.com www.johnvarvatos.com www.remeyewear.com JG

Optica Toscana, Madrid

10th November 2011 Eyestylist.com’s Art Director Helen Bratby has just returned from a weekend in Madrid, and took some pictures for us of the very special Optica Toscana. It’s one of the stores in Europe that is always being mentioned  to us for its style and atmosphere and incredible selection of specs. The old-fashioned flagship shop (above) is a former seed store full of tiny old wooden drawers, bursting with exciting-looking frames. Blasts of colour are dotted around the wood displays.

The main shop is very buzzy and full of people (not just at weekends), and it’s in an atmospheric regenerated shopping area.

Wall display at Optica Toscana


Owner Antonio Lopez, explains further: “Our shops are designed for those with an interest in design and aesthetics, who see spectacles as an important part of their identity, for themselves. We have a wide selection of collections; they include Anne et Valentin, Barton Perreira, Cutler and Gross, L.G.R., Francis Klein, Rapp and Leisure Society and many others. We do well also with the buffalo horn by Ralph Vaessen.”

Why is the store a trendsetter? “We are coherent, we stick to our preferences and tastes when choosing frames, and we work closely with our suppliers bringing a wide choice of complete collections, the best from around the world, to our customers.

“We have opened a second store in Ayala because we saw a demand for our frames in another part of Madrid! Designed by the architects Maroto and Ibañez, this shop is completely different and modern, but we believe it shares the essence of who we are.” CN



Optica Toscana, Hortaleza 70, 28004 Madrid

Optica Toscana, Ayala 34 28001 Madrid 




Optica Toscana's branch at Ayala 34, Madrid

Photography by Helen Bratby www.helenbratby.co.uk 



11th November 2011 Marseilles based designer Lionel Bellet can always be counted on to create a collection with unique touches. In 2009, the company won a Silmo D’Or (an industry accolade) for their innovative  eyewear concepts. The newest collection features “Slide” (above) that allows the customer to select two or three different acetate colours; mix them to ‘slide’ into place, et voilà,  very distinctive frames. Ebony and champagne merge into these neat little shapes, and express retro harmony. Eye’DC designs are available at Les Createurs D’Opta in Paris, and Arthur Morrice Opticians in Knightsbridge, London. www.eye-dc.com  www.idc-lunettes.com JG

Austrian Designers

Katharina Plattner – Andy Wolf

10th November 2011 The next stop on our Austrian designer tour is to chat with Katharina Plattner, designer and managing partner at Andy Wolf. Although the brand is only five years old, it has captured international markets. Vintage heroes and heroines often inspire the timeless designs – including Betty Boop. Everything is handmade in the Styria region of Austria, located in the southeast section of the country, with a history that dates back to Roman times.

“Nowadays, it is difficult to find people to create handmade frames,” observes Plattner, “but is it important to have knowledge of old handcrafts, or else everything will be lost if you don’t learn from the old. The new collection is inspired by criminal novels from Agatha Christie – the sunglasses have names like Miss Marple or Colombo. This is because I grew up with these old films – my granny loved them.”

Plattner is adamant about quality, and every frame goes through a rigorous handcrafting and time consuming process. “I think it’s very important to give time to the finishing processes – we give the frames seven days – it’s usually three – and you can feel the difference.”

For the future, Plattner would like to experiment with materials. “I’d like to work with French lace for frames, and I think every type of cloth would be good, like silk for example.” Andy Wolf followers eagerly await the new Austrian eyewear creations. www.andywolf-eyewear.com JG

Irving Penn Auction at Christie’s

Iconic Photographers’ Images in Paris Sale

7th November 2011 His fabulous photos elegantly graced the pages of Vogue and he photographed some of the most important luminaries of the 20th century – including Igor Stravinsky, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Cocteau,Truman Capote, and Georgia O’Keefe. Now for the first time in Europe, photos by American photographer Irving Penn will be auctioned at  Christie’s Paris, on 12th Novembre. The 52 photos to be sold, estimated at €1.6 million, will benefit Médecins Sans Frontières. Penn’s fascinating images express sophisticated elegance with austere backgrounds, and subtle lighting – he rarely used props or backdrops. He married his favourite model, Lisa Fonissagrives, (shown above in the Harlequin Dress 1950, estimation €200,000-€300,000, copyright Condé Nast Publications Inc.), and she featured in many of his photos. Viewing is open to the public from Monday 7 to Friday 11 November, at Christie’s, 9 avenue Matignon, 75008. The sale takes place on Saturday at 19h00. www.christies.com JG

New African Fashion

A colourful guide by Helen Jennings

5th November 2011 I was recently sent a copy of this guide to African fashion by journalist Helen Jennings, an expert in the field and editor of Arise magazine. Published by Prestel (£15.99) the book celebrates a new wave of fashion designers with international recognition. Profiling lines such Black Coffee and Ozwald Boateng, Jennings also presents a detailed history of African fashion, beauty and style. An inspiration if you love fashion, trend developments or have an interest in African style and its place on the international fashion stage today….the book includes Duro Olowu, who designs chic, attention-grabbing colourful prints (one of my favourites), through to catwalk models such as Alek Wek and photographer Chris Saunders. www.prestel.com CN


Duro Olowu, Photography by John-Paul Pietrus

More Beautiful Blues

8O8O Emmanuelle Khanh

8th November 2011 As a long-term fan and wearer of Emmanuelle Khan eyewear, I’m delighted at the enthusiastic response to the renaissance of the brand. Khanh’s statement frames, with signature oversized shapes, in brilliantly glossy acetate, are once again enchanting wearers with updated concepts and details. These beautiful sunglasses (above) are from the latest collection, and very uplifting for winter wear. The shape is so flattering; the fit and comfort superb. Available at Profumeria in Rome, and Viola, 25 Connaught Street, London W2 www.emmanuellekhanhparis.com JG

Trend watch: new florals for 2012

5th November 2011 Greek designer Mary Katrantzou (www.marykatranzou.com) showed at London Fashion Week and walked away with some well-earned rave reviews for her head-to-toe floral creations, which are so imaginative and intricate.

To my delight there are some terrific new print designs coming up in eyewear too…and some eyewear designers have taken painstaking steps to create techniques for doing this which are really impressive. One example of a statement print frame for women, using florals and animal prints through the range, is this sweet shape below from Australia’s Jono Hennessy. Watch this space for our selection of the stand-out fabric styles in the months ahead….www.jonohennesy.com CN

Image above: Mary Katrantzou London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012. Source: www.londonfashionweek.com Credit: catwalking.com


Fabric Frames by Jono Hennessy

Trend watch: Beautiful blues

Beatrix by Orgreen

3rd November 2011 Orgreen effectively captures the eyewear trend of beautiful blues with stylish Beatrix. The supremely light frame gives a nod to Buddy Holly, the American rock and roll singer, with its 1950’s interpretation of revamped sleek sophistication. Vibrant electric blue beta titanium, with a smooth matt finish, is moulded into a retro/futuristic shape. Handcrafted with Danish precision to detail, Beatrix is a tempting frame to brighten winter wardrobes and days. www.orgreen.com JG

La Source

World Premier at Palais Garnier, Paris, France

1st November 2011 The curtain has risen on the stage at Palais Garnier signifying a memorable ballet event. The world premier of La Source, with music by Léo Delibes and Ludwig Minkus, receives a glamorous re-incarnation by Jean-Guillaume Bart. Formerly a “danseur étoile” (star dancer) with the ballet, Bart brings this beautiful ballet back to life, that was originally written in 1866 for the Paris opera. Christian Lacroix has created the luxurious costumes, and the designs are actually made in the couture workrooms located within the hallowed halls of Palais Garnier. Lacroix’s heady mixture of fantasy and opulence, with superb fabrics, sequins, feathers and beads, complements the poetic beauty of the dancers. Until 12th November. www.operadeparis.fr JG

Palladium 002

RVS by V. Handmade Eyewear

Following the success of their first stainless steel frame the Palladium 001, Turkish company RVS by V. Handmade Eyewear have continued their production of lightweight steel frames with the new 002 and 003. These showpiece styles are available in matt gold with gold lenses and matt black with faded lenses….the timeless but quirky shapes are delightful…the square 002 and small rectangular 003 are both shapes that appeared in the 1960s but also remind me of some very early antique specs produced in the late 1800s….RVS cleverly gives them a makeover producing them in modern stainless steel with luxurious eye-catching lens colours. Exciting! CN




Cassius Eyewear

This is a first appearance for New Zealand’s Cassius Eyewear on Eyestylist. Hadid is a classic flat-top sunglass style which is one of the signature shapes in the Cassius sun collection. As designer Jason Ng explains, “I am drawn to modernism: clean, linear, timeless design and work that is free from unnecessary decoration. Cassius Eyewear is a reflection of my methodical nature, and the way I see the world and everything in it.” This is a brand that prioritises cool, on-trend styling, but without any compromise on essential quality or comfort. For example, Hadid, released in homage to architect Zaha Hadid,  is made from premium layered acetate and finished with hand-polished lenses. 300 pieces per colour are available through Cassius Eyewear stockists. Colours include: black, cortado and this lovely deep mahogany pictured. Available to buy online at www.cassiuseyewear.com CN




Blush 2

Safari Collection, Face à Face

French designers Face à Face have a great take on animal print…launched in 2010, their Safari Collection features this much-loved pattern teamed with colour. This gives a new edge to the very glamorous styles such as Blush 2 (above) and Garbo 4 which is distinguished by a very pretty metal detail on the upper corners of the front. With its elegant bevelled front, a signature of the Paris-based eyewear company, Blush 2 and its sister styles in the Safari collection are excellent examples of perfectly well balanced styling for this winter season in a palette that is on-trend but also classic…..a staple to bridge the seasons and likely to be a favourite for years to come. CN



Paul Smith Spectacles

Kismine is inspired by style icons of 1960s London (a very, very trendy decade this season). It is an oversized (but not too big) rounded feminine design in acetate, offered in four colours of which this one is the most flashy…but I like the boldness and the graduated effect that we will be seeing a lot more of. For every daywear in the months ahead (sunglasses are actually a must-have in the winter by the way!) it’s a top style. www.paulsmithspectacles.com CN

Elektra and Phines

Mykita & Kostas Murkudis

Experimentation with colours, materials, laser and new print technologies are the focus here…there is a play on the contrast between “natural” and “artificial”, with specific materials selected that are more usual in the world of sport and swimwear. Laser techniques are used to produce a Moire effect in the material. The frames are made of stainless steel, with an unusual texture etched into it giving it a totally new feel. As well as a statement gold version there are these interesting Charcoal tile/dark blue and Pearl tile/light blue options. Very accomplished designs with attitude from this now very popular Berlin-based brand. CN



Blue Magic Eye

Since Guya Montermini and Ciro Tugnoli launched their eyewear collection several years ago, I’ve been following their design evolution with great interest. This season, they have launched another chic collection in must-have colours. Their creative frames, with great attention to details, includes this bold cobalt blue and dark grey design, with the colour combination a Blue Magic Eye exclusive. Matt acetate is contrasted with gold metal, and the frame shape is deftly sculpted into modern retro. Refined style, with elegant impact. www.bluemagiceye.com JG

The Super Conductor

KBL Eyewear

I spotted this design at Hall of Frames in Zurich, and found both the colour and the airy, weightlessness of the frame very appealing. Super Conductor, with its slightly oversized design, is crafted from milled stainless steel, for the ultimate in shape integrity and strength. World class polishing, hand enamelled acetate temple tips, and silicon nose pads are great details for perfect comfort and fit. The coolest and most innovative electric instrument on the planet, a 1960’s fender deluxe model bass, inspired the gentle mint colouration. A cool history for a cool frame! www.kbleyewear.com JG