Aurelia 42

Rolf Spectacles, Austria

Rolf Spectacles creative team specialise in creating unusual frames – in unique materials. The woodstone series is the result of painstaking attention to detail, and combines both ancient and modern techniques to achieve the smooth finish on the frames. The graceful shape is contemporary, so there is a harmonious mix of a natural, earthy material in a design that is effortlessly stylish. Handmade in a small Tyrolean village, the frames are a distinctive delight – a work of art. JG

Chartwell 02

C.W. Dixey & Son

International Royalty to British Prime Ministers have worn C.W. Dixey & Son eyewear since 1777. The Chartwell Collection (named after Winston Churchill’s country retreat in England) has recently been re-launched, including an exact replica of the frame (above) which Churchill wore, particularly when giving speeches. The dots on the temple tips were created uniquely for the great man, and enabled him to distinguish his various frames for reading, painting, even card playing. Expertly crafted in luxurious black acetate, the frame continues to be favoured by eyewear connoisseurs. Available in Paris at Les Plus Belles Lunettes du Monde. JG

L’Osservatorio, Italy

An Italian eyewear adventure

1st March 2012 L’Osservatorio is a must-see for anyone who loves good frames….there are branches in Milan, Finale Ligure, Alassio and Mondovi (pictured above)…of which we have been to the Milan store and warmly recommend it to anyone going to Mido next week. We spoke to Alfio, director at the Milan branch.

“The Milan shop (Corso Porta Ticinese 83), like our other three stores, was designed by the architect Andrea Meirana. The overall design is inspired by Donal Judd, one of the most significant American artists associated with Minimalism. The concept of the shop is not simply to present a window display showing objects, but rather a “lieu” that treasures and protects the unique qualities of the products it presents. The frames are treated as works of art, and that is why they are placed on glass shelves or special fabrics…in a setting that recalls a jewellery display.”

The Milan shop, like our other two stores, stock very exclusive eyewear lines, including Frency & Mercury, Theo, Mykita, Linda Farrow and collaborations, Lunor, Reiz and Retrospecs, among others.

According to owner of the stores, Gabriele Evangelisti: “My philosophy is that the choice of a pair of glasses in our shops does not end with the purchase, the important story that lies behind each object continues even beyond the contact between the frame and the person who chooses it. The frame becomes a part of the personality of the person wearing it, a distinctive mark, an emotion…My dream is to always have more customers that share my passion for eyewear.”

Does the Italian public have an interest in more unusual brands? “We get a very positive response. The mentality in Italy is that many people are conditioned by famous brands. This is mainly because many of the world famous fashion brands are Italian. In the last year the trends have changed and people now are less keen to spend money only for a brand, they look more and more for the quality of a product. Customers today are also more interested in distinguishing themselves from others and looking more original.

Mondovi store interior

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Trend watch: Spring’s statement sunglasses

Creative, colourful, and curious?

1st March 2012 For March, I have my eye on some of the most creative and eccentric sunglass designs, for seeing but also for being seen in! I love the exhuberant and artistic creations that some designers are proposing…we have already covered the incredible Prabal Gurung/Linda Farrow butterfly and Prada’s Baroque styles…but there are so many more exciting shapes and designs on offer…it seems only right to celebrate some of the most stunning ones.

Finest Seven Zero 5 in honey

I’m excited to see the intense colour experience offered by the young British based label Finest Seven. I have picked out their fabulous tangerine and honey colours, but there are more bright tones where these came from including a shocking pink. As always, Finest Seven places emphasis on the quality and exclusivity of the designs, so there are only 100 pieces of each colourway and each pair is numbered and catalogued in the Finest Seven archive. In  other words hurry up if you want one! From £495 at Harvey Nichols in the UK and online at CN

Francis Klein, Paris, France

Eyewear Design is a Family Affair

1st March 2012 “We are known for colour, and love experimenting with colour, cat eye shapes, and mostly feminine designs,” says Dixie Klein, daughter of Francis Klein, the Parisian creator with an international clientele. “My father was twenty-two years old when he opened his shop in the 1970’s, and he was disappointed with the frame choices, so he decided to create his own designs. We’ve always been a family business – my mother and my sister Betty are involved too. I remember being about ten years old, and Betty and I were helping to tint lenses in our garage! From the very beginning, our concept has always been that frames are a fashion accessory. We used to have fashion shows at Galeries Lafayette – the Parisian department store.”

Creative colouration and design from Francis Klein

In 2002, the Klein’s moved the boutique location in the smart 7th arrondissement, to an even more historical part of Paris – the heart of St. Germain de Pres, just steps away from Aux Café Deux Magots, the favourite haunt of literary luminaries Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Satre. On display in the boutique is a vast selection of their styles – past and present. Francis Klein glasses always provide an element of surprise – it could be an unexpected colour combination, an innovative touch in the frame shape, a particularly distinctive accent. They perform magic with acetate – they make all their own acetate, and the frames are handmade in France – truly a 100% French product. “We are inspired by everything, says Dixie, “certainly our travels, but particularly the 1970’s; we are loyal to our image. We are also passionate about everything we do, and not only the family, but our staff is involved in submitting design ideas – we have a good team.” JG