Gemmologist and award-winning jewellery & eyewear designer Ely Yili Cao is a graduate of the prestigious RCA in London. Her latest work is entitled Lunette de Diadème.
“My collection uses luxury as a perspective and high-end jewellery as a platform,” says Ely Cao. The designer, who has taken part and won the 100% Optical / RCA Eyewear design competition (in 2020 and previously) for a work featuring delicate pearl settings, has created her latest work – Lunette de Diadème – as a means of exploring how spectacles have infiltrated our lives beyond a medical device and symbol of impairment.
Working with a mix of materials such as rhodium plated silver alloy, fresh water and Tahiti pearls with bluetooth earphones, Cao has imagined and created a new personal concept in luxury glasses, incorporating high-tech, connected to artisan jewellery-techniques, with handmade settings and a genuine appreciation of traditional construction. Her attention to detail continues into innovative functional and aesthetic features – with highlights which include beautifully conceived moveable jewellery parts, interchangeable lenses, and a hugely appealing charging case.
About: Ely Yili Cao, a designer who specialises in jewellery, eyewear and accessories, an authorized gemmologist and appraiser, earned her BA (Hon) degree in Jewellery Design, at the Central Saint Martins’ College of Art and Design, finished gemmologic study from GIA with scholarship, and recently graduated from the Royal College of Art fashion programme, specialising in accessories and eyewear. Her design and craft skills have been selected and awarded worldwide — by organizations including The Goldsmiths’ Centre, The Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council in the UK, Gemological Institute of America in the US, Barcelona Art Jewellery & Objects (JOYA) in Spain; and by commercial companies including The Leatherseller’s Company, Theo Fennell and William Morris London (100% Optical / RCA competition). For more information visit @ely.yili.cao (Instagram) andwww.elycao.com
Launch of three made-in-NYC styles as the Brooklyn label returns to normal production
A set of three stunning new handmade frames is announced by Lowercase, the NYC independent artisan label working out of a historic Brooklyn factory. The label has recently resumed full production post-lockdown and the new designs – Rose, Lenox and Astor – offer a refreshing reminder of the intricate processes and distinctive handcrafting techniques that go into a small-batch production at this level.
The three new bookish frames are inspired by the renowned libraries of New York City, where the Lowercase manufacturing workshop is based. Merging craftsmanship with modern design, each style has its particular nuances from the effortlessly stylish shaping of Rose and the classic, versatile, and flattering Astor to the Lenox, which features rounded corners and smooth lines that soften the hard geometry. All Lowercase sunglasses are produced in hand-polished acetate and feature the finest hardware and quality Carl Zeiss sun lenses.Find out more at www.lowercasenyc.com
UK start-up TimeFrame, created in lockdown, proposes bespoke frames made from old stock and restoration of vintage specs
A new project by a UK dispensing optician – created in lockdown whilst on furlough from his regular work – offers customers a bespoke sunglasses design, made from pieces of old, unused, upcycled or vintage eyewear. Elliot Carey says that alongside repairing special vintage eyewear finds from the past, he is creating one-off designs using pieces of unwanted spectacle frames that the owners would otherwise throw away.
The limited editions sunglasses are fitted with new UV protective lenses with a choice of colours and tints – depending on the requirements of each client. Above: old eyeglasses reconfigured into new “Frankenspex” designs – the styles have a Gothic-infused style and finish
Carey has also sourced a selection of unique vintage frames, some of which he will reconfigure for his clients, who include individuals with a love of vintage eyewear, theatre companies, and people who just want to recycle their frames and use them again.
With plans to expand the bespoke service and create designs inspired by architecture and design details in his local city, Carey is confident that demand for his handmade recycled styles will increase as the fashion industry resets its focus towards a sustainable agenda. A one-off bespoke design without a huge price tag is an attractive proposal to a young 20+ age group especially for those, according to Carey, with a passion for upcycled fashion and a desire to recreate their perfect specs and give them a new lease of life. To find out more visit www.ebay.co.uk/usr/timeframer90
Fun yet classic, with focus turned to sustainable, energy-efficient production as well as charming, easy-to-wear design, the second capsule by Gemma Styles and Kenmark Eyewear is announced with a further 5 timeless shapes, in youthful colours including honey, watermelon and caramel. Styles says she focused on the longevity of the shapes, making sure they could be loved and enjoyed by their owners for years to come.
“The Young Ones” – a petite acetate cat eye – pictured above in carbon: “The inspiration for this shape was a photograph of my grandma from the early 1970s” says Styles.
Continuing the theme of the first collection, each sunglass is named after songs from Styles’ personal favourite playlist that embody the look and feel of the frame. Gemma also wanted to give back to a cause near and dear to her heart, mental health.
To do so, she created a special ‘Find the Light’ style (‘Don’t Stop’ in Caramel) specifically to donate 10% of the proceeds to mental health research. It was important that this style had a positive song association.
The first line created as a collaboration between influencer/writer Gemma Styles and Kenmark Eyewear launched in 2018 with four styles. The new sunglass designs are available exclusively at www.baxterandbonny.com from the official launch date of 7th August 2020. For more information about Kenmark visit www.kenmarkeyewear.com
While small-scale brands enjoy popularity among consumers who seek authenticity, quality and style, these labels are also seeing more and more opportunity to propose bold statement designs, with interesting colours and a more individual look, even in these times of global pandemic.
Certainly, growth in timeless, unisex classically oriented specs and sunglasses is expected where economic recession looms, and a desire to play things safe may become the status quo. However, smaller independent labels continue to tell us that their specialist designs – those that offer a different more unique style focus, are still very much in the running when it comes to current purchasing trends. Some have even cited lifestyle changes such as our continued use of Zoom – where the camera hones in on the upper body and face – as precipitating a trend for more adventurous specs choices and a shift toward colour and more impactful, memorable shapes.
Above: SOL SOL ITO model 048 offers a new interpretation of a 70s square eye shape in daring tones of red, hippie gold or blue – the sunglass style is eye-catching for its novel shaping but also for its beautifully curated colour palette – if wearing with a mask then coordinate colours carefully. www.solsolito.com Photo by Hans Hansen
For an unforgettable statement, the bold signature shaping of a floating lens mount is the eye-catching focus of the Regumbo by l.a.Eyeworks – a frame that is as extraordinary as it is aesthetically exciting. The dazzling colour choices range from the classic black to a soft delicate powder pink and absolutely adorable patterned ‘Merry Mix’. Visit www.la-eyeworks.com
Elongated narrow 90s inspired sunglasses have been around for a while now and are still a staple for Gen Z. The colourful versions which offer a funkier spin (AF17 above by Reflect Eyewear) are a particularly desirable statement-making style accessory this summer with growing appeal for all ages and sexes. The Newquay comes in black and coral red – and has decent UV protective lenses at a very competitive price. Find more 90s inspired shapes in this genre for men and women at www.reflect-eyewear.com