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.

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/