An avantgarde shop rarely passes us by and while Eyestylist hasn’t yet managed to visit, we look forward to this experience in the future. Monica Albanese agreed to talk to me about Iconaocchiali – Italy, and her new project with MiN New York.
What is your background?
Our store project was born in 2011 when I joined my sister Barbara’s company. The idea was for me to enhance her great technical know-how, with a new and different aesthetic direction. I am a collector of clothing, handbags and glasses. I have worked in the fashion industry for many years with a lot of different brands. I was also a teacher at the Istituto Marangoni, in Milan and Shanghai.
My family is important to me. They have taught me a lot about respect, beauty and a beautiful style of working. My sister taught me to entertain customers with professionalism and courtesy. She also taught me her love of taking care of the customer’s vision by being very careful to match the technology with beauty. My uncle is Paolo Seminara, who has taught me everything I know about eyewear. He is an important eyewear designer – he created the Vogue eyewear brand in the ’70s. It became a very successful brand – and was sold to Luxottica in the ’90s. Image above: Barbara and Monica Albanese
What is currently available in the shop?
Our store is unusual and unexpected. I like it when people ask “what do you sell?” We like to amaze in a gentle and discreet way, choosing elegance and cultural “references” in eyewear. In our store, you can find niche brands. Some are strong on image, some are more valuable in the construction of the glasses and the choice of materials. Among the brands we have selected are Linda Farrow, Lotho, Platoy and Frency & Mercury.
We also love Kuboraum and Slave to Ancestors, the collection made entirely in leather. We work with many more, including Jacques Durand, Sama Eyewear, Portrait, Robert La Roche, Lunor, Jean Francois Rey, and Orgreen.
You are also involved in a sunglasses collection with MiN NYC – how did this come about? Are you the only stockist of MiN in Italy?
This is a funny story. A young man entered my former shop in Florence. He was very enthusiastic about the brand selection and the elegance of the store. From that moment on, we became friends, and this has developed into a working relationship. Matthew called me in the summer asking me if I wanted to work with him and Chad to create the MiN NEW YORK glasses line. I immediately accepted, and began to seek the right language that respected the aesthetic aptitude of their brand.
I am not the only stockist in Italy, but our store is like a “brand” showroom for MiN in Italy – since I’m directly involved in the creative side.
Last summer we presented our first part of the Eyewear Collection in Florence at Pitti Uomo; we also did Pitti Fragrance, and we went to New York for Vision Expo. We are brand new in eyewear, but already strong in the fragrance business.
What are the MiN Eyewear designs like and why has the perfume brand moved into eyewear?
Presenting fragrance and eyewear as a part of the same story is a completely new idea.
One by one we have created and translated every scent story into a spectacle in the form of glasses.
When we created every single style, we sprayed a cloud of perfume into the air and carried our emotions back and forth and went back to every place visited in Chad’s mind at the time of creating the scent.
The MiN New York fragrances are created to celebrate a moment, a minute of life (MiN as a dime of minute). We think that a better product can make life fuller and that through an authentic experience something of us is revealed, that was previously hidden. Physics and metaphysics. A journey within ourselves but with a propensity to life.
As a designer, what are your most important influences in Italy or outside Italy?
Usually my personal feeling is my starting point. My background is like a ‘chest’, filled with tastes and things that I choose and are the only thing that make me unique and special. As an italian woman I usually live among the flame of florentine architecture, I can see all the best painting exhibitions in Milan, where I live alf of my week (as a designer), I can travel north and sud for a week end, smiling and testing all the “colours” of life.
Mention anything else about your shop in Signa regarding the styling?
I love change. The store has taken shape in time and that it suits the flow of life with changing needs and what seems important or new at that time. For this reason we have not created any fixed structure, excluding a wall cabinet. Our project is born of the need to express in a simple and universal way (hence the choice of the ICONA name), the idea of the beautiful as a manifestation of an instantly recognizable functional aesthetic.
All the eyewear collections and the objects we sell (Grottaglie Ceramics, Monica Albanese Handbags, Bijoux bought in many travels, Objects of various nature and Pieces of Art) have been chosen through a careful search of what we really consider as the Icon and thus representing a style and elegance that will be an integral part of the customer who will choose them.
We like to think that we can present glasses and other products as small artistic masterpieces and design objects. CN Iconaocchiali, /29, Str. Vicinale Vecellio Tiziano, 2, 50058 Signa – Florence