August 2019

Chicago: Lab Rabbit Optics

“My philosophy toward eyewear is simple: longevity and versatility are key”, says Coyote DeGroot.  “I want the frame to last, from both from a structural and stylistic standpoint.  The frame must complement, not overwhelm, the wearer.  And it should also be suitable for all occasions, weddings, job interviews, bachelor parties, funerals….”

Lab Rabbit Optics, located by Wicker Park in Chicago, opened nearly 9 years ago. Today, Coyote sells a wide selection of independent collections, from classics like Randolph Engineering to avantgarde designers from Japan. “My customer base is very diverse in terms of both lifestyle and age,” he told Eyestylist. “I make eyeglasses for attorneys, musicians, television and film producers, bike messengers, retirees, bartenders, professors, performance artists, doctors, deviants, and over-achievers.  Every day is a surprise.”

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The development of an own label came naturally, owing to a serious passion and interest in design. “My own frames are designed in-house and handmade in Japan in limited quantities of 20-80 pieces per colour. The collection is comprised of nine different models, with another two in production.  They have unusually sturdy hinges, and lots of titanium, along with Mazzucchelli and Takiron acetates.  I try to offer something different in terms of the design, and I experiment constantly.  My customers really like having access to unique, limited edition frames, from a Chicago-based brand.  I’m now preparing for the frames to go into select optical shops outside Chicago.”

Frames on display: Lab Rabbit

Asked about the attitude of young people toward independent labels in Chicago, Coyote is realistic but he sees a trend that suits his style. “I think buying cheap, fast eyewear via the internet is a phase that a lot of consumers go though.  Many of my customers have purchased glasses from Warby Parker or Zenni in the past, and now they’re ready to invest in something better: cool handmade frames, more optically precise lenses, and attentive, personal service.  My shop definitely does NOT look like the average optical shop that most people grew up visiting, but it’s growing in popularity among the adventurous, and among those who recognize the lasting value of good quality products and service.” For more information visit: www.labrabbit.com CN

Chic + characterful: Laurence D’Ari, Antwerp

“Antwerp heart, Italian hands”

Antwerp creator and avid eyewear collector Laurence Bourguignon says she doesn’t follow trends nor does she focus on a specific target group or age. “My designs are an expression of myself and who I am. I can only hope they will be picked up by women with a genuine and self-confident personality, daring to express themselves.”

Named after her father Ari (short for Aristide), the collection remains something of a special ‘secret’ outside Belgium, although it’s stocked in some prestigious optical stores and luxury fashion stores like Azzurro Due (www.azzurrodue.com). Pictured above: model Authentic in Honey – a showpiece in the Laurence D’Ari collection.

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Model Spirited by Laurence D’Ari – in Crystal Green

The 8 sunglasses in the 2019 selection – named after characteristics of personalities which the designer admires (they include ‘Devoted’ and ‘Spirited’) are crafted in Italy in rich marble-effect acetates with bold organic or angular oversized forms and retro-infused squares and cat eyes that have characteristic sculptural definition in some details such as a wave effect in the lower edge of the temples, and an open gold temple ring to attach the accompanying gold chain.

Eyewear with charisma: Laurence d’Ari model Devoted in Black Marble

Laurence D’Ari launched in 2018 with focus on strong, charismatic elegant styling inspired by vintage elements, especially for women. The sunglasses are available in selected opticians (including Annys Optiek, De Wilde, Philip Hoet and Frank Props) and several fashion concept stores known for unique designers and luxury apparel. Find the full collection online at www.laurencedari.com CN

The Viridi-anne x Rigards glasses

In a unique collaboration between award-winning avantgarde label Rigards and Japan’s artisan fashion designer Tomoaki Okaniwa, these silver + aluminium round glasses are among several of the works of art in the Rigards collection for 2019 – showing that the Hong-Kong based designer Ti Kwa continues on his own path of artisan craftsmanship and innovation, with ever greater achievement in the creative process and work with different, distinctive materials.

This complex small round frame is made from pure titanium and hand hammered .925 sterling silver for the nose piece, surgical steel for the temple arms and aluminium-magnesium for the interchangeable sun clip. Delicacy and character come from the signature hand worked finishes and elegant shape of the glasses which are light and refined, with a bespoke feel to each element of the design. A sophisticated nose pad design uses three different components which fit together to form the cohesive whole and unique colour combinations ensure a choice of dramatic or more subtle, depending on the individual’s style. The frame above is pictured in black (RG2001) with a white clip-on and contrasting red lens.

About The Viridi-anne: the brand was launched by Tomoaki Okaniwa in Japan in 2001. It is often described as Japanese in design, with influences from Europe. The label collaborates with many unique labels including Bocci, Mold and Daniel Andresen.

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About Rigards: Rigards has become a creative leader in luxury artisan eyewear and produces frames by hand in a variety of sophisticated materials including copper, wood and buffalo horn. Rigards won the iF design award in 2018. for its aluminum-magnesium model RG0086AL. For further details visit www.rigards.com and www.viridi-anne.jp CN

Autumn choices: SoupCan tech innovation

Tavat Eyewear continues to prove that ingenious tech innovation is a lasting, winning trait in eyewear. Their SoupCan concept, launched in 2015 (at the Mido eyewear fair, Milan) and inspired by 1930s goggles, continues to achieve an ideal balance in the benefits of the “sandwich” style technical construction with rimlock closure. It also offers a completely different finish and feel to the design which is comfortable, durable and fresh in style.

An Eyestylist ‘pick’ / tech innovation: Hexad – in striped Havana

Launched in 2019, the Hexad in the Soupcan collection is offered in a range of colours suited to all tastes. They include classic matt black, bond blue horn and champagne, all beautiful and unique for the new season.

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The frames are made in Italy and feature a long list of tech details from tiny watch-crown screws to comfy hypoallergenic nosepads; the metal temples are laser etched for a decorative touch and some styles benefit from ultra scratched hand finished surfaces which provide a tactile feel to the material and a subtle texture. Tavat’s frames in the SoupCan collection are the expression of a rare and innovative approach to functionality and style in product design and the refreshing aesthetic is ideally suited to those who seek something different beyond the ordinary designer frame. See more colours in the SoupCan collection at https://tavat-eyewear.com/eng/prodotto/hexad-sc041-ov / https://tavat-eyewear.com For more about Tavat click on the link: https://www.eyestylist.com/2018/10/tavat-eyewear-pantos-18k-gold/ CN

Designer insights: Laura Howard, Vera Wang eyewear

Behind the Vera Wang eyewear collection is a team of creatives with expertise in colour, shape and the technical precisions of a unique pair of spectacles. Eyestylist asked designer Laura Howard to talk about her approach to luxury product design and her thoughts on trends and choosing a new frame.

How long have you been working with Vera Wang eyewear? I first began working on the Vera Wang runway collection, VWX, in 2014, along with Kenmark’s CCO and Vera Wang optical collection designer, David Duralde. Vera has been fully involved from the beginning, so having all that history there when I started provided some valuable design groundwork and some major expectations to fulfil.

How do you turn Vera’s vision into an eyewear collection? Can you describe the process for each collection. Each season’s runway collection all starts with Vera! She is incredibly passionate about eyewear and spends a lot of time thinking about the point of view she wants her collection to have. We meet with Vera and her team to discuss trends, to gather inspiration and to get a read on her vision for the collection. She’ll often sketch a few ideas for shape or to show the scale and proportion she is looking for. I then take all of that and design many, many concepts for her to review and make further edits. She stays very involved after that by choosing every material, lens and finish for each frame. This collection is truly personal to her and she is creatively connected to each piece.

Laura works for Kenmark Eyewear in the US

From a personal point of view, what are your greatest passions in life, and does that impact on your work as a designer ? I have a real need to get out and experience the world. There aren’t many places that I wouldn’t go at least once! The takeaways from travel (even short weekend trips) have a lasting effect on my life and work. Just opening yourself up to new experiences allows for creativity to prosper. Being out in the world is also a reminder that there are faces other than my own. When designing, I obviously try everything on my face, so I constantly have to make sure I don’t end up with a collection that is tailor-made just for me.

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Do you think that women are more in tune with the benefits of eyewear styling and choosing styles/colors that are enhancing to the personality. If so, can you give any examples or advise on choosing a frame? I think women have always been in tune with their personal style, but now more than ever, fashionable eyewear is much more accessible. With so many new ways to shop and eyewear being offered at nearly every price tier, women have access to a lot more variety and endless ways to express themselves. With that, I think choosing just one frame is no longer necessary. And I’d say try on EVERYTHING! As designers at Kenmark, we put frames on lots of faces. I would say that most people we fit end up loving something they never would have tried on if we didn’t make them. Toss out the face shape chart and go with your gut!

Developing the new-season Vera Wang designs

What can we expect in 2020 in terms of design trends / style/colour trends and how have you interpreted those concepts in the new collections? Metal eyewear is still a very strong trend that I don’t see going anywhere anytime soon. Shapes are trending toward more utility styling with pieces like shields and sports wraps. I think micro sunglasses are slowing down, but a frame on the smaller and thinner side is still going strong. Moving into 2020, I think we’ll start to see acetate creep back in, but in thinner profiles and more translucent colorways. One of the defining features of the Vera Wang collection has been the showcasing of exposed structure, which really lends itself to the growing utilitarian trend. Through a series of prongs and screws, the strength and construction of those pieces are celebrated, not buried within the materials. This styling will be carried forward into the newest collection by creating new shapes in metal that boast this concept.

V547: a round, transparent semi-rimless – the style comes in a selection of pastel tones

What is it like to work with a couture designer on a collection, and what have been the most exciting moments for you in your career path so far? Working with someone like Vera Wang, who 30+ years into her career is still at the top of her game, is truly the most fascinating and invigorating experience. I’m incredibly inspired by her sense of self, the strength in her vision and her tenacity as a designer. One of the perks of being around someone like that is that you get a contact high from their energy. Just absorbing her ideas, philosophies and instincts is always time well spent. Seeing your frames walk the runway isn’t too shabby either! For more details about the Vera Wang Collection visit www.kenmarkeyewear.com CN For previous articles about Vera Wang click on the following link: https://www.eyestylist.com/2019/08/deryn-by-vera-wang/