Auerbach & Steele have moved to a new location, a few doors down, at 123 Kings Road, London
The prestigious optical store on London’s fashionable Kings Road – Auerbach & Steele – has moved to a state-of-the-art 3 storey architect-designed retail space just a few doors down from its original location.
Visible from the street, a vast minimal contemporary open space at ground level is now home to one of the UK’s most comprehensive and diverse selections of fine independent eyewear collections for which the practice has become a trendsetter and point of reference.
Distributed through the basement and two further floors beyond the main retail space, the practice also offers 2 private consulting rooms for eye testing and styling appointments, its own lens lab and one of the UK’s most unique dedicated spaces for beautiful, colorful kid’s eyewear. In line with its reputation for clinical excellence, the new location is fitted with cutting edge testing equipment, for the most comprehensive eye examination.
Curated by Gail Steele and a long-serving team of optics and design experts, the eyewear collections at Auerbach & Steele offer something for everyone including minimal design labels from Scandinavia, colorful British eyewear classics, exciting 3D printed frames and the most highly regarded avant-garde and statement eyewear from cities like Berlin and Zurich.
Gail Steele told Eyestylist: “Since we opened Auerbach & Steele in 1996, I have been dedicated to marrying absolute clinical and technical excellence alongside the dispensing of ever changing beautiful, cool and unusual frames which we source, and often have made, from around the world. We are thrilled to now be able to offer our special service from our beautiful new luxurious space spread across four floors.” Visit Auerbach & Steele at 123, King’s Road, London, SW3www.auerbach-steele.com CN
Industrial elements, custom-designed furniture, and colour and texture inspired by the Thai capital. A new MYKITA store has opened its doors in Bangkok, developed by the in-house architectural team at the German design house. Located in the Sindhorn village development in the Pathum Wan district, the shop defines the brand’s high-tech aesthetic in an open, minimal space with distinctive mirrored walls and delicate green foliage.
The ground-level space has the familiar white interior and wall. Pale green touches are added on the expanded metal ceiling, eyewear storage trolleys and the metal detailing on the oak furniture. On approaching the shop, the entrance to the in-store optical lab is visible through floor-to-ceiling glass front, providing a showcase for the handcraft and high technology that defines MYKITA’s Modern Manufactory.
MYKITA Bangkok stocks the full collection of optical frames and sunglasses including the designer collaborations with Bernhard Willhelm and Maison Margiela. A Zeiss Vision Center provides comprehensive vision care. Sindhorn Village (Room C115/2), Soi Langsuan, 10330 Bangkokwww.mykita.com
Denmark’s first sustainable optician shop is now open
The Danish eyewear label Monkeyglasses has opened a flagship store in Denmark, as they celebrate 10 years in eyewear – placing complete focus on sustainability.
“We have created a flagship store where we can show the full potential of the market for sustainable products,” says Mai-britt Seaton, CEO & Designer. “In the store, our guests can experience a wide selection of sustainable products: our frame designs in all the available colours, Zero Waste accessories made from surplus materials from our eyewear production, eco-friendly contact lenses and eyeglass washing kits with organic coconut soap and hand-tied washing brush. Our idea was to bring together a complete universe where environmental concerns are a given.”
The furniture in the shop is second-hand or has been built by hand by the Monkeyglasses team. The interior style is inspired by classic Danish mid-century modern with dark woods and sturdy metals, finished with a high level of craftsmanship. Modern touches come in the form of upcycled materials such as the scrap iron used for the counter and the former backyard gate (pictured above), repurposed for the design-office partition wall, preserving its patina, aged over many years by the Danish weather. For more information about the brand and the new store visit www.monkeyglasses.comPhotography by Robertsosis.dk – CN
The pretty town of Market Harborough has become home to one of England’s most beautifully restored optical boutiques in an historic 3-story townhouse. Statement colours, extraordinary attention to design details, the reintroduction of heritage features and a warm and elegant atmosphere: the renovation and refurbishment of Clarke & Roskrow took nearly 16 months from start to finish, and resulted in a stylish contemporary practice that rivals some of the UK’s most successful contemporary optical retail spaces.
An optician’s since 1974, Clarke & Roskrow, which the Clarke family bought in 2014, had an old-fashioned appearance, despite the historic building in which it was located. Anthony Clarke remembers his first ideas on how to develop it and create something quite new. “The practice was tired and the building was being under utilised, operating from two rooms on the ground floor. I had an idea in my mind of how it could be transformed; something akin to a small, luxury boutique hotel, full of “period features” but with a modern and slightly quirky twist over several floors. I wanted the new space to take inspiration from its heritage whilst simultaneously giving a clear indication of our new forward-thinking path.”
“I had to “think out of the box” to get 93feet interested in our project,” he says, on finding the right partners for the work, often a particularly challenging stage in a project of this scale. “I sent them a video of me and the interior, recorded on my iphone. The next day I got a call from their designer Jim Butterell. The rest, as they say, is history!”
The restoration project and rebranding took place simultaneously. “For the building work, we approached several local building/construction firms. James Barby of Rockingham Construction had the “can-do” attitude and proven track-record of high-end finishes that we were looking for. 93feet understood what we were trying to achieve with the interior of the building and our “brand identity”, whilst Rockingham Construction were able to bring the design element to life, remaining true to the original design brief.”
The rooms are painted in bold yet warm heritage-inspired tones and feature an array of restored fittings from fireplaces to Victorian style ceiling coving, picture rails and authentic reclaimed wooden flooring. Contemporary Danish furniture is mixed with custom built pieces, designed and made by 93. Some eye-catching light fittings and works of art create an added finesse to each room where the luxury eyewear is displayed for customers to try on.
“I wanted an environment that gave clients an experience, something memorable and quite different from a traditional optician’s. I am very pleased about the response that we have had from clients, the overwhelming majority of whom are thrilled with the transformation; of course I’m also delighted that our project won the Federation of Master Builders Award (Commercial Project, Midlands – June 2019).”
Today, focus is placed on exceptional eye care and a handpicked selection of independent eyewear brands, mixing well-known names with emerging labels. The selection this season includes LINDBERG, Maui Jim, Anne+Valentin, Leisure Society and the iconic eyewear collection from l.a. Eyeworks. Anthony Clarke takes the view that his clients deserve the very best choice in interesting, colourful independent frames, right on their doorstep.
“If you want to sell beautiful and luxurious eyewear whether in a large city or small market town, you have to have an environment that reflects that,” says the owner. “The general public tend to assume that you’re a competent clinician, but we’re also judged on the quality of the products that we sell and increasingly, the experience that goes with it.”
18 Church Street, Market Harborough, LE16 7AA – For further information about the independent eyewear specialists Clarke & Roskrow visit www.clarkeandroskrow.co.uk Photography by Adam Fairclough. CN
History permeates the French port city of Rouen on the River Seine. Hero and martyr Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in Rouen in 1431; Edward IV of England (1442-1483) was born there, as was the novelist Gustave Flaubert (1821), and François Hollande, former President of France (2012-2017), and Claude Monet painted the Rouen Cathedral Series in the 1890’s while visiting there. Now French optical brand Lafont is creating a new and exciting history of its own – with a charming, inspiring boutique in Rouen’s historical Old Town.
The Rouen boutique is the first shop outside Paris for the Lafont family-owned business. Optician Fatima Deflinne explained: “There is a family history of friendship between the Lafont family and the previous owner of this shop, and when he was ready to sell, he approached Philippe Lafont. The shop is over one hundred years old, and has always been an optical boutique.” Ultra chic colourations of aubergine and olive green harmonise elegantly in the shop, located within a three-minute walk of the acclaimed Cathedral Notre-Dame de Rouen, plus intriguing shops and cafés. The complete range of Lafont’s diversified eyewear designs for men, women and children are on display. A specific area for children has been carefully allocated where they can play with toys or use colouring books, while also trying on the latest immensely desirable children’s frames.
The shop participates and supports city events, the most prominent activity being the International Rouen Armada that takes place in June every year. This is a major robust celebration on the River Seine, where the finest and beloved sailing ships arrive from all over the world to cruise and navigate along La Seine from Rouen to Le Havre. This year, as a tribute to the genuine love story between the city, the world of sailing and Maison Lafont, the Lafont Parisian workshop created a striking design to be sold exclusively in the boutique. The graceful, navy blue Armada frame is accented with a carved sailboat above the contemporary frame top.
Everything in the Lafont Boutique is personalised, and that includes customised, handwritten invitations that are sent to customers to experience and appreciate new collections. “We only use real invitations that are sent in the post,” explained Deflinne, “and visitors are welcomed with a glass of champagne. Rouen is really a community and everybody knows everybody.”
For Lafont, authenticity is linked to the credibility of the designs handmade in France, which have been awarded the distinguished certification ‘Origine France Garantie.’ For more information on Lafont products and shops, visit www.lafont.com JG
“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.”
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.”
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.comCN
Luca Gnecci Ruscone has opened a second L.G.R store in Rome, the city he grew up in and home to his sunglasses and eyewear company. Like L.G.R in Milan, the chic individual design takes inspiration from the atmosphere of Ottica Bini, the store which Luca’s grandfather, Raffaello Bini, ran in Asmara (Eritrea, Africa) between the 1930s and the 70s. It was in that store, in 2005, that Luca discovered some old and elegant frames dating back to the 40s. He then decided to take them to Italy to embark on a new business venture.
This combination of Italy and Africa, which represents the brand DNA, is part of every detail of the store. Wooden furniture and coconut elements have been carefully and elegantly manufactured by Italian craftsmen, while the fabrics and the chandelier designed by L.G.R have been made in Morocco. The wooden display niches in Venetian Neo-Gothic style have been inspired by the windows of the old Ottica Bini as has the colour palette of sand, green and turquoise. On the walls, the evocative illustrations by Giampiero Celani Piendlbach embellish the environment.
“After Milan, opening a store in Rome was my priority, not only for commercial purposes, but also for personal reasons. I grew up in Rome, it is my home, this is where our company has its headquarters. We are determined to grow and in the future we plan to open other monobrand stores in Italy – Florence may be the next one – and abroad.” says Luca Gnecchi Ruscone, Founder and CEO of the brand.
The new store presents the 2019 collection of sunglasses and eyewear, with L.G.R highlights such as Reunion and Asmara (Explorer line) and the new exclusive limited edition, RAW #2. L.G.R., Via della Fontanella di Borghese, Rome www.lgrworld.com CN
A very dear friend in Rochester, New York keeps an “eye” on what might be intriguing in eyewear. He alerted Eyestylist to this forward thinking, fashion savvy boutique in the American city that is closely associated with the industrial, cultural, and philanthropic endeavours of George Eastman, the Kodak founder. Tamra Asmuth (above image) is creating her own legacy in the Northern New York State city, nestled on Lake Ontario, with a distinctively elegant boutique – One Hip Chic Optical. Nowadays, customers are looking for something “different” – an experience that is personal, with speciality items, and excellent service. Asmuth delivers: with beautiful eyewear from artisan creators, and handmade shoes.
Everything about One Hip Chic Optical is individual, with custom furniture, complimenting her unique taste in eyewear. Several years go, Asmuth moved to the present location on Monroe Avenue, and spent six months overseeing the renovations. She describes the techniques she utilised in creating the boutique. “A large wall covered with custom-made wallpaper welcomes each visitor to One Hip Chic Optical. Underfoot, a plywood floor cut in a mosaic pattern is a continuously changing art piece as layers of paint colours and textures are added. One of the first things I did in this house – built in the 1930’s – was to commission a local fine furniture maker to craft sets of drawers made of quality cherry wood. The drawers, each lined with handmade paper, contain the frame inventory. I take orders at a custom-made stainless steel desk, and dispense glasses at a glass desk. People can relax on a soft, pink velour couch. Since day one, every choice made at One Hip Chic Optical has been with the creative person in mind. Each detail is meant to appeal to the senses.”
Independent labels are the highlight at One Hip Chic Optical. “I’ve long been a fan of theo and Anne & Valentin,” said Asmuth,” and have recently fallen in love with styles from Blake Kuwahara. I also carry Colibris, the German label for small faces. And I happily discovered Metronome from Japan. I am continuously looking for a new and unique “voice” in eyewear.”
With Asmuth’s fashion sense it was only a matter of time before her optical business evolved into another realm. “My customers often consult me about various style choices. I was recently asked to help design a dress for a formal event for one of my customers. Last week, another customer asked for hair colour advice. Based on this fashion aspect, opening a complimentary business to One Hip Chic Optical felt right.
Asmuth continued: “Immediately following the renovation project of the new location, Sole by One Hip Chic was born. The second floor of the business location houses handmade shoes from around the world. The shoe business is very different from the optical business. The seasonality of shoes and the variety of sizes offer a challenge the optical business doesn’t have, but it’s a challenge I welcome.” Asmuth’s vivacity, enthusiasm and style statements bring exciting new dimensions to the expanding possibilities for eyewear boutiques. www.onehipchic.comJG
Functional elegance meets innovative style in the newest store from Berlin vintage and contemporary eyewear store Lunettes Selection. The retailer’s latest store is a stone’s throw away from the iconic shopping boulevard, Kurfürstendamm.
Founder Uta Geyer explains: “European design and handwork are celebrated in the store’s furnishing and fittings, and at the same time are represented in the selection of glasses on offer.”
Designed by the Berlin/London practice Oskar Kohnen Studio, the new store is furnished with pieces from 20th century European designers and great minds of modernism, including Jacques Adnet, Pierre Paulin, and Bauhaus.
For eyewear, Geyer has selected fine designer models from Italy, France, Belgium, and England, as well as offering in-house line Lunettes Kollektion, which is hand-finished in Italy. Eyewear expertise and craftsmanship is also brought into focus through a customized eye exam service, done on-site with traditional optical measurement tools by a master optician, and through prescription lenses crafted from high-quality Zeiss glass. For more information visit www.lunettes-selection.de and www.oskarkohnen.comCN
Studio Edwards designs flagship store for Vision Studio, Melbourne, Australia
A gallery-like space invites visitors to engage with and discover the Vision Studio store, located in Melbourne, Australia. Studio Edwards designed the concept with an aluminium perforated facade that hinges open to reveal a luxurious interior displaying eyewear by brands such as Dior, Dita, Mykita, LINDBERG and Thom Browne. The displays on the inside give space to 200 pairs of glasses set on shelving with storage for a further 800 pairs of glasses.
The space has an angular plan configuration with the areas requiring most privacy to the rear and semi private consulting spaces tapering to the front.
The side walls are lined with translucent display shelving which appears to float above the pastel coloured cabinets – visually connecting to the mall outside through gaps to each side of the aluminium facade.
The materials have been cleverly juxtaposed – brash New York marble is set off against the sheer pastel matt surfaces while translucent solid surfaces sit next to raw concrete and slithers of raw aluminium.
According to the designers, the store has been conceived as a physical extension of the Vision Studio brand. They worked closely with the client and graphic designer Louie Quilao to create and refine the final design. For more information: www.visionstudio.com.au / www.studio-edwards.com CN – Photography by Tony Gorsevski
Coterie, the luxury eyewear retailer in China, has branched into jewellery in its latest department store concept. “This is our attempt to move further along the road of accessorizing eyewear,” David Leung told Eyestylist. “By adding “real” jewellery to our assortment, our consumers can mix and match more freely.”
The brands featured alongside the sun and eyewear collections currently include the Italian luxury collection by Cynthia K Sakai, Vita Fede (also producing Limited Edition sunglasses handcrafted in Japan) and YvMin Jewellery by Zhang Xiaoyu and Li Min, based in Beijing. The selection of high-end eyewear labels include international brands such as Balenciaga, and Gucci, as well as the Korean brands Fixxative by art director Veronica Kang, and Irresistor.
Coterie has opened concessions in Galeries Lafayette Shanghai and MIXC HangZhou and the performance is described as “very encouraging”. “We may plan to open more in the near future,” says Leung, whose vision for optical retail continues to lead the way in the region. Find out more on Instagram @coterie_store and at www.coterie.cnCN
An eyewear store with the feel of a creative gallery, Optik Studio is located in Luxembourg city. An exclusive stockist in the country for 90% of the brands it carries, their goal is to make people discover how beautiful designer eyewear can be. “We’ve tried to do something different,” explains Maxime Drouna. “Our brands come from all over the world…France, Italy, Japan, Germany, Spain… and each of them has its own universe: you won’t see the same frame in two different collections; we are conscious that we must cover every trend.”
At present the mix includes Pugnale Eyewear, La Petite Lunette Rouge, L.G.R Sunglasses, Meg Eyewear, Mr Lenoir, and Masunaga. “There are a few more that we shall be launching shortly,” says Drouna who is passionate about original design.
In keeping with the collections, the interior of this store is elegant, understated and comfortable. “We have two little spaces where we can welcome our clients with a cup of coffee. It’s then our priority to find the right pair of glasses for every face. We don’t have large tables or dazzling lights. Instead when you visit, we would like you to feel at home.” Optik Studio is also offering a successful service for home and office appointments. For further details find the shop on Instagram @optikstudio.lu. 20 Rue Beaumont, 1219 Luxembourg – CN
London’s choice of eyewear and independent design brands is rising quickly. Several new optical stores have opened across the city in the last few months. New mono brand stores and exclusive independent boutiques are changing the face of optics in a city where consumers are more informed and interested in eyewear fashion and good design.
1. Chakshu London
The new boutique style practice Chakshu is located in Camden. The store has been created by a team of optometrists who have also launched their own eponymous house brand in premium Italian acetate. Their additional brands, meticulously chosen to suit a variety of styles, offer the latest designs. They include Lunor, SALT. Optics, and from Paris, FACEAFACE.
Chakshu London Opticians has been created as an independent practice “where you will receive a highly professional service from a knowledgeable and experienced team.” The eye examinations are conducted using state-of-the-art equipment, including an OCT 3D retinal scanner.
The co-founders have worked in a variety of different optometric settings from smaller independent stores to large retail chains. Combined, they have over 30 years’ optical experience between them. Chakshu London, 97 Parkway, Camden Town, NW1 7PPhttps://www.chakshu.co.uk/
Located in Chiswick, West London, FourFourFour opened in March 2019. This is a sister store to Barnes Nineteen at 19 Barnes High Street, and it stocks a variety of design labels including Henau, Nine, Silhouette and Garrett Leight. A modern and minimal interior – which moves away from the clinical look of some traditional British optical stores – is becoming the norm in the UK as eyewear is seen as an important fashion consideration. 444 Chiswick High Road, London
3. Izipizi Paris
Izipizi is the latest opening in the Soho/Carnaby Street area in central London. This is the French brand’s second stand-alone store in Europe; the debut store is in the Marais district of Paris. Located in the popular shopping district of Soho, this new corner store displays all of the brand’s adult and children’s collections in a small yet well designed open retail space. www.izipizi.com
4. For Art’s Sake
This is another stand-alone retail store, located in central Covent Garden in the busy covered market. The store borrows bold design details from the brand’s penchant for eclectic style: decadent blue velvet furnishings and brass fixtures have been designed to “elevate the statement-making frames”. Many new retail features have been incorporated, from a selfie station to personal shopping (in five languages: Mandarin, French, Spanish, Italian and English), a concierge option, tax-free shopping, “Click and Collect” as well as exclusive colour choices for some of the frame designs. For Art’s Sake is designed by Xiwen Zhang who is featured on 2019’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list. www.fasforartssake.com CN
Michael Stoffels has transformed part of the historicZunfthaus zur Meisen in the Lindenhof Quarter, Zürich, into a state-of-the-art designer optical boutique.
Michael Stoffels opened his eponymous store in November 2018, replacing the well-known store on Storchengasse which had been run by the family in this location since 1983. The new prestigious boutique is located in the Zunfthaus zur Meisen, an historic 18th century building celebrated for its Grand Guild Hall and its exceptional central position overlooking the river Limmat. The interior of the shop merges contemporary and traditional features with striking colours and an artistic style with elegant, one-off pieces of furniture and art works.
Stoffels, who created the interior design for the store with Jaqueline van Maren, architect and interior designer, said the aim was to open a hip optical store in the very traditional historic setting, with a unique experience compared to other stores and an open and appealing outlook for young people. “We wanted to attract attention in a well-known location,” he added, “where thousands of people walk by every day. The brilliant colours are inspired by Yves Saint Laurent and his love for Marrakech, and the vibrant “Blumlihalle” (hall of little flowers) in Zurich, painted by Augusto Giacometti, nephew of the famous Swiss sculptor.” The exotic interior and its elegant furnishings create a setting that is more like a luxury living room than an optical retail space.
The shop has opened with a selection of handpicked niche collections which include Eyevan, Lucas de Stael, Retro Specs, Moscot, Carin and ‘Stoffels Own’ collection which is handmade in Switzerland.
Other outstanding features of the interior decoration include an impressive wall painting created with a bespoke wallpaper, designed especially for the wall and the colour scheme of the shop, by Jakob Schlaepfer from St. Gallen. Stoffels explains: “Jakob Schlaepfer is one of the most famous producers of haute couture textiles. The wallpaper is covered with a hologram foil, which is illuminated at night and gives a beautiful glittering effect visible from outside to passers-by.”
An energetic hub embraces Brussels. It is a hive of remarkable activity for culture, cuisine, fashion, and international politics. The city boasts vast green spaces and lovely parks; numerous museums; architectural landmarks; and it is the capital of the European Union. Belgian fashion designers have captivated the global style stage, and include Dries Van Noten; Raf Simons; Ann Demeulemeester, and Martin Mangela. Chocolate, chips, waffles and beer are known to dominate cuisine; however, elegant gastronomy is alive, well and flourishing in Brussels, and beyond the city centre.
Brussels includes nineteen municipalities, and a stroll of the historic Sablon area enchants the visitor with tempting antique shops; vintage clothing; designer labels; charming cafés; and speciality food shops. For distinctive and original custom-made eyewear – set your sights on the remarkable and influential Lunetier Ludovic Boutique. “My wife Vinciane and I opened the boutique in 2015,” recollects optician and owner Ludovic Elens when we met in Brussels, “and we specialise in bespoke glasses. We do feature some brands, but I am an eyewear crafter…that is my passion. We offer the finest quality and personalisation.”
Lunetier Ludovic is a bright and airy space over three levels; the street level displays frames where customers try on the designs; the lower level is Elens craft shop; and the upper level houses the office. “It was very hard to find a location; every week we went to a different area. We chose the Sablon as it has many interesting shops – art; jewellery; chocolate; antiques; and luxury products,’ says Elens.
The frames crafted at Lunetier Ludovic are truly luxurious works of art. Clients chose their materials from the intriguing collection that Elens has acquired – including sheep and deer horns that he works in layers. “We never throw anything out”, declares Elens, “as you never know when a particular piece of acetate or horn might be useful.”
Each design takes approximately two weeks to create – and then two to three months for the actual crafting of the frame. “I want to design the frame that the wearer wants to wear,” Elens emphasises, “as we have many clients who are unable to wear a regular frame from a designer or manufacturer – perhaps due to an abnormal facial issue. However, that can be overcome with the correct design and bespoke fitting. There are details in the designs that you may not see, but the wearer can feel.”
Lunetier Ludovic has an amazingly diverse international clientele that range in age from two-and-one-half-years old – to eighty-one years old. They all wear Ludovic designs, which are individually personalised. Some clients are very specific about what they want. “We had a client who was a Roy Orbison fan, and he wanted frames exactly like what Orbison wore, so that is what we created.” Discover more about Lunetier Ludovic and the boutique’s unique, and beautifully handcrafted eyewear at www.lunetierludovic.be JG
theo’s exceptional Somers Optiek store in Antwerp, a window on the eyewear label’s world of colour, love, energy and design, always has a trick up its sleeve. In anticipation of the Chinese New Year in February and theo’s passion for all things ‘Valentine’ (14th February), the boutique is now resonating with the vibrant colours and textures of colourful dragons from the East.
Somers Optiek first opened in its current location behind the KBC Tower – a landmark ‘Art Deco Skyscraper” – in 2008. Since our last visit in 2012 – see Joan Grady’s feature at https://www.eyestylist.com/2012/11/somers-optiek/ – the store has expanded, with a new fresh open space designed to cater to a young customer and their particular requirements for styling, colour and design. The space was designed by APRIL ONE’s Karine Ribbens (www.aprilone.be).
The store features a comprehensive selection of new and past designs by the iconic Belgian company, many of which are hidden behind the scenes, ready for customers to explore and try on at their leisure. Just a few frames are displayed on cabinets or in alcoves to highlight new colour, shapes or special releases. Somers Optiek offers a comprehensive eyecare service with state-0f-the-art eye testing available in the lower level consulting rooms as well as styling expertise from ‘theo’ trained frame specialists. Visit online at www.somersoptiek.be / www.theo.beCN
Alicia Hartman opened Eye Q in 2011 at the luxury location Limegrove Lifestyle Center on Barbados platinum west coast, a shopping hot spot featuring luxury fashion stores – Vuitton, Burberry and Ralph Lauren. Despite a worldwide recession at the time, the shop quickly became the leading independent optical boutique on the island. In 2018, the owner launched her own independent sunglasses label, PFB (Peoples from Barbados) dedicated to the Bajan community and its unique all-embracing lifestyle, filled with warmth, colour and natural style.
“Many people thought I was crazy to take on a project of this scale with no experience in retail, marketing and management,” explains Alicia Hartman with a smile. But with the support of her husband Sam and family she achieved what she set out to do, “with passion and love”.
Alicia set out to offer personalized stylist consultations offering the best eye care with a stylistic approach and a laid back yet professional atmosphere. “Initially we brought the world to Barbados through a combination of designer and independent brands,” she explains. “From day one, I preferred independent brands, but I did incorporate some of the well known designer brands as crowd pleasers.”
Over the years she gained the trust of clients and was able to focus on creative independent brands. With this came Peoples from Barbados in 2017, Alicia’s own collection of sunglasses. “The shop has a real purpose beyond eyewear and I’m excited. It’s as if we’re taking Barbados, the people and the culture to the world through a truly unique colorful understated and glamorous collection!”
The store itself offers a clean minimal space designed to showcase the frames – with Caribbean flair, and a personal playlist of music that reflects the owner’s love for travel and other cultures. “Initially there were wall decals of different people in glasses. We referred to them as the #eyeqpeoplez with a “z”. In Barbados “my peoples or my people” is a connecting phrase, to make someone feel a part of something special. The idea was always to have a personalized stylistic approach bringing people together in Barbados, regardless of there class or colour – and with one thing in common: “great taste in glasses and the desire to be unique and stand out from the crowd”.
Today a few things have changed. “To liven up the minimal space there are life size black and white portraits of beautiful Bajan faces in PFB eyewear by local photographer Adrian Richards. We wanted to showcase the real Barbados – not just the “postcard images”.”
This season, the collections in the store include independent brands from different cities around the world. “On an island, it’s important to do that! The demographic here ranges from aristocrats to fishermen to artists and celebrities.”
When I select designs I have a specific client in mind. I must offer glamour (Linda Farrow / UK), colour (theo /Belgium) , and technological sophistication (Mykita / Germany). With the Peoples from Barbados collection, we can also offer our own distinctive DNA ‘with Bajan Soul’. “I have aspirations for PFB, to make my Bajan people proud of who they are. I plan to promote Bajan artists and local talent and to encourage them to think independently – to live their dreams!”
We took a look for ourselves and discovered tiny aliens with an obsession for kung fu. This is the inspiration behind the installations at the new 2-floor Gentle Monster store in London, a space that is more straightforward in its conceptual presentation than sister stores in the US or Korea, where part of the fun is the architectural excellence of the spaces and unexpected surprises encountered as you literally “journey” through the stores.
In London, the experience is more about the installations themselves: they include a huge kinetic apparatus with a gong that sounds every three minutes, a Kung Fu “training field” and “battle ground” for the aliens and a waterfall video installation by artist Ryoici Kurokawa, referencing the places where an aspiring Kung Fu master would typically train and meditate.
And then there are the glasses and sunglasses: not so much at centre stage, and displayed in typical Gentle Monster style, in amongst the installations, usually on minimal, open shelves, but always designed to invite us to pick up and try them on as much as possible, the experience of which is positively encouraged at Gentle Monster.
The eyewear and sunglass designs available here offer a mix of wearable and very flamboyant metal and plastic shapes, colours and forms, and are priced – unexpectedly – at more moderate prices than we had imagined (some just under £200 – all made in China or Korea). Highlights include very classic plastic sun styles in easy colours – the collab with Tilda Swinton was a memorably classy one – and a few outlandish sci-fi pieces with metal details such as the capsule, Once Upon a Future. Much more is promised, with London Fashion Week being the immediate focus for September and, as in other GM shops, a changing and evolving theme, a part of the DNA of the label, will ensure nothing stays the same for too long.
The new store is located at 28 & 29 Argyll Street London, just near Liberty’s in Central London. The opening in the UK follows a second store in LA and a new pop up in NYC at DSM and Selfridges on Oxford St., London. Gentle Monster was founded in 2011 by Hankook Kim. www.gentlemonster.comCN
With a taste for modern design, well-planned contemporary fittings and new ideas, 27-year-old Nicolo Plebani says the new Indice store is hard to explain without mentioning every single detail that has gone into the final store design concept. “To my colleague Giovanni and I, Indice represents our passion for design, research and innovation, expressed through the world of optics”. The shop is, needless to say, far removed from the traditional optician’s store, and intentionally so.
Approximately 200m squared and split on two floors, this exemplary eyewear destination is located next to the imposing Cathedral of Brescia, a city located in the Northern Italian region of Lombardy. The setting is eye-catching and original with focus on a personal appreciation of design and creativity – a stunning environment for an eyewear experience and the ideal showcase for talented independent designers.
Silver leaf, iron and glass tables, and refined display cases and shelves, which rest on mirror carpets are some of the ad hoc elements in the modern space created for shoppers who appreciate fine design. Fittings also include Eames Vitra chairs, Afteroom stools and a purple armchair by Albini Cassina and the space is lit with Flos spotlights and lamps, further embellished with Poseidon Cattellan Italia chandeliers.
For eyewear choices, the store is equally avant-garde. The first collections available instore include Kuboraum, Cazal, SUPER (a special edition was launched by the store in June), and other equally individual lines, designed to give shoppers a different choice of products that combine extraordinary quality with good looks and a story far beyond the ordinary. Indice Vision is a new concept store by Nicolo Plebani and Giovanni Comotti – Address: Via Giulio Bevilacqua 7, Brescia – www.indice.vision – CN
Two of London’s youngest success stories in optics came together with the Celine Sunglasses team for a summer party in London’s Kensington in June. The Eye Est. opened in July 2017, and is one of London’s most elegant new optical and sunglass boutiques, located in a neighbourhood that supports their forward-thinking selection of fashionable eyewear and bold modern statement styling. Above, left to right: Fahmida Kamal Rob of The Eye Est., with Vanessa and Annie of Frame Chain.
The Eye Est. store currently stocks a range of design labels which include CELINE, Komono, Dita, and EYEVAN7285. It has also become known for its passion for coffee, and offers a unique espresso bar serving an independent London brew by Drury Coffee.
Frame Chain, London’s fast-expanding accessories label, has become known for its glamorous eyewear chains, available in fashion retailers such as Liberty’s in the UK and at leading optical retailers worldwide. The brand is the creation of entrepreneurs Vanessa Harrington and Ann-Margret Kearney, who have grown the fashionable appeal of the eyewear chain beyond all expectation in a short space of time.
Frame Chain’s latest line includes gold designs in yellow, white and rose versions as well as new finishes such as rhodium and enamel and decorative Swarovski and pearls. Inspired by jewellery, the chains can be worn with any glasses, or as a piece of jewellery on their own thanks to the changeable silicone ends. For more details visit www.eye-est.com and www.framechain.co.ukCN
French creative designer Jean-François Rey announces the opening of a redesigned flagship store, located in Marseille in the South of France – home to the company. Two passionate young opticians take the helm of the store – Julia Maggio and Valentin Abrioux – which first opened in the French city in September 2008.
The shop has a new striking black facade with a new identity : ‘Jean-François Rey, Créateur Lunetier’, strengthening the link with the Jean-François Rey company, now over 30 years old with a global distribution. Inside, the shop has been completely transformed with a beautiful, chic and creative area for each of the company’s different specialists collections: JF Rey, JF Rey Petite, Kids&Teens, Boz, Volte Face, Sky Eyes, Jean-François Rey 1985 and LE CUIR.
The company told Eyestylist: “The result is just perfect. This is the universe of designers Joëlle and Jean-François Rey! Our intention was to express the mood of each of the brands, the spirit of the designer and the House Jean-François Rey. Our customers can now see each and every one of our collections, the inspiration, and the original, creative style of our frames.” Marseille, FranceCN
Majestic architecture, the river Danube and the backdrop of the Buda Hills make Budapest one of the most stunning weekend destinations in Europe. The city is also home to Hungary’s no 1 independent eyewear company Tipton Eyeworks, located in the centre of the city across the street from the historic Cafe Centrale.
A wide choice of inventive eyewear at Tipton’s showroom
Opened to the public in 2017, the showroom offers a wonderful peep at a team of industrious, highly skilled artisans finishing frames, and a buzzing retail space exhibiting the collection, where Zach Tipton’s first eyewear designs and some very special limited edition glasses – including the NVSBLE range and a tribute to Bob Marley, are on show. A highlight is the photo wall of famous faces, including Robbie Williams, Elvis Costello, Fred Durst and Elton John. “I started with rimless in early 2000, but soon moved into vinyl,” explains Zach as we toured the workshops and store. “Over the years we have perfected how we use the vinyl and we remain the only company who has pursued this direction with a growing global success in top-level boutique shops.”
Visitors to Budapest can arrange an appointment to make their own frame at the showroom, with expert artisans on hand to explain the process of assembling individual frame parts, personalising the frame with gold lettering, and, eventually cleaning and polishing the frame – ready to wear. In the background music plays from the vinyl archive on a retro ‘record player’: we play all the LPs we use for the frames, Zach explains, as he puts on a mysterious 90s ambient album that has come from a London warehouse. A current favourite is AC/DC, the focus of a collaboration using the 22 x multi-platinum “Back in Black” album.
Tipton Eyeworks has also achieved notoriety in the film industry in Budapest, producing frames for particular requirements on set, and as special commissions and gifts for the many actors and actresses visiting the city. This Spring, a Limited Edition design from the Cinematiq Collection was created for Antonio Banderas during the shooting of Genius: Life of Picasso. These unique sunglass editions are presented in a flat circular case similar to that used to carry old-school film.
Alongside the VINYLIZE collection launched in 2004, the new Cinematiq concept presents luxury acetate frames which make use of vintage 16mm film footage – perfectly aligned inside the temples where light illuminates the colourful action and characters within. And there is no stopping there. Whilst we were at the store, an ingenious, collaborative eco-inspired project was in production – a limited edition commission by coffee machine makers, Nespresso, recycling the aluminium coffee capsules into a chic run of co-branded sunglasses for Hungarian stores.
True to its city’s exceptional focus on design, eyewear brand ic! berlin takes fashionable eyewear to exciting heights, and its flagship store is no exception. Located just next to Berlin’s state-of-the-art ADIDAS and close to its original place of birth in Max Beer Strasse, today the company’s retail HQ in Munzstrasse (Mitte) offers a wide selection of eyewear possibilities, highlighting the most comprehensive collection of ic! frames (over 500!) alongside limited editions and vintage collectibles.
Browsing is worthwhile and will allow a peak at the very latest designs and colourways that have just launched at the international eyewear fairs. Staff are on hand to explain the new colours, designs and materials with a special knowledge of the innovative state-of-the-art screwless eyewear for which the Berlin company has become known worldwide.
The industrial, gallery-like interior reflects style and design attitude, with details such as art works and floral displays that are immediately welcoming. At the back of the space is an area for high-tech eye testing, and should you have a creative streak, there is an option to design your own sunglasses choosing from an almost infinite number of frame and lens colour combinations. This service is unique to the shop and one that offers a particularly mind-blowing opportunity for combining frame and lens colours according to personal preferences.
ic! berlin brillen GmbH is a German company which designs and produces high-end, handcrafted eyewear in Berlin, and distributes it worldwide. The company was founded in 1996 by Ralph Anderl.
Following the flagship in New Orleans, and a 6 month pop-up style residency, in Soho, New York, US brand Krewe has opened a permanent location at 85 1⁄2 Spring St.
The airy minimal interior has been designed “to cultivate an intimate experience with the brand while strengthening the ties between New Orleans and New York”. Utilizing flora displays, a modern white decor and New Orleans-based artisans to create interior finishings, the space has a close affinity with Krewe’s standalone storefront in the French Quarter of their city of origin.
“New Yorkers are continuing to seek out Krewe,” says founder and creative director, Stirling Barrett. “This store is a celebration of the success that we’ve had with our 6th month residency and our relationship with the SoHo neighborhood.”
Krewe was founded in 2013. The brand is built on the philosophy of doing something unexpected from a place no one would expect. Using the spirit and soul of New Orleans as a source of inspiration, KREWE’s frames are designed to embrace individuality. Designed by Barrett in KREWE’s New Orleans design studio the collection includes colorful hand-carved plant-based acetates, mixed metals, and a wide array of premium lenses. www.krewe.comCN
Repeated visits to the elegant Götti + Niederer Boutique in Lucerne, Switzerland are always a genuine pleasure. Located in a landmark building, the boutique – celebrating its 25th anniversary this year – is situated on an historical square – Mühlenplatz – in the city’s charming Old Town. Evolution and discovery go hand in hand for Urs Niederer – whose passion for fine eyewear sizzles with enthusiasm.
The latest excitement in the boutique is the launch of The First Floor. This beautiful space, just above the main building, with its original parquet floors and decor has occasionally hosted exhibitions, designer appearances and short-term events, but was never used continuously. Now Niederer – with the design expertise of Thomas Frischknecht, who works at Götti Switzerland in Marketing and Communication – has launched a concept for young, fashion conscious people who love frames, but may not be able to afford luxury labels.
Emphasis is on sunglasses, with frame prices not exceeding 300 Swiss Francs. Niederer resources young eyewear and accessory designers from Switzerland and globally. The selection includes Sunday Somewhere from Australia; Pride, Web and Gambini from Italy; Funk Food in Germany; and Myth from Korea, among others.
The decor on The First Floor is fresh, contemporary and chic. “I love cactus,” says Niederer, “so when Thomas and I were discussing the design concept, we wanted something simple and natural.” Frames are displayed on cube units, wall shelves, and metal latticework, with an exotic selection of cactus displays. Frischknecht’s streamlined, uncluttered approach to The First Floor ambiance ensures an inviting, relaxing environment for leisurely trying on frames. Niederer plans to hold various events on The First Floor – and stipulates: “Everything is going to be fun and an adventure!” And indeed it is! www.goetti-niederer.chJG
Isabelle Lunettes Nantes, interior design by Decodheure: redesigned in 2017, the new store explores colour and minimal open spaces to highlight exclusive individual eyewear collections.
“I first opened my shop in 2008, in a collaboration with the network Rien Ne Va Plus,” explains Isabelle, the owner of Isabelle Lunettes in Nantes, one of the most beautiful optical stores we have seen in Europe in recent months.
“The shop was originally, “Le Petit Salon des Créateurs.” In 2017, I decided to leave the group and became completely independent. At that time I got in touch with friends who owned an agency in Nantes called Idile Edito and I started the year with a total redesign of our visual image and graphics. We changed the name, the logo, and the graphics completely. And then I realised it was also the right time to change the interior.”
By the end of the year, Isabelle had completely transformed the store with a new striking interior. “It was natural to choose Decodheure (www.decodheure.com). Sandie and Pierre-Edouard were introduced to me by my communications agency Idile Edito who have worked with each other on many different projects. When we met, we were completely in tune with the vision and design and I was able to put all my trust in their work. The project was completely focused on DESIGN – GRAPHICS – and COLOUR….”
“I am completely in love with the new store, I feel completely at home here. The interior design corresponds completely to my vision of creative eyewear: chic, modern, and very colourful”, Isabelle told Eyestylist.
Featured brands: Cutler & Gross / Dita / Thom Browne / Struktur / l.a. eyeworks / Coblens / Kuboraum / Kaleos Eyehunters / Blake Kuwahara / Clément Lunetier / Robert La Roche. Address: 24 Rue de Strasbourg, 44000 Nantes, France – www.isabellelunettes.fr Interior design by https://decodheure.comCN
Deepak Oberai is the owner of Albert Road Opticians, a beautiful converted Edwardian house in Wilmslow. Eyestylist asked him about the store, which has an original setting and exquisite mix of eyewear collections.
When did you first open and can you tell me about how you had imagined your store initially? Albert Road Opticians is set in a house that has a lot of character. When we first opened, I was aware of the potential but did not maximise this. However after an impromptu climb of Mt Kilimanjaro, I decided I wanted us to be ‘The House of Spectacles’. So I decided to take it back to the original features (fire places, picture rails) and treat people as if they are coming over to your house, with a lovely cup of tea! This was a game changer for us.
You are working with very creative brands like theo from Belgium? How is it going, and is there a greater interest for statement design? What have your experiences been so far? Theo is my personal favourite. Initially when we introduced this at Albert Road Opticians we did not know how to approach the bolder design conversation. However, as with anything, practice makes perfect and we are now known for brighter, bolder designs in our local community. Our clients who have bought this eyewear may have been reluctant initially, but as soon as they get a compliment from a stranger (and this happens), they turn into raving fans. It’s incredible to see such joy on people’s faces.
Tell us about the design of the shop and who worked with you on it. The shop and its unique quirky features lend to the building we are in perfectly. We worked with Sheffield based interior design company 93ft (https://93ft.com) and they really know how to push the boat. The style chosen was reclaimed furniture with a modern twist. The dark colours compliment the handmade cupboards perfectly and the reclaimed flooring brings the design together.
How much do you change your selection of frames – do you stick with old favourites or add newcomers if you find them in the shows? We attend international optical shows regularly to see what is up and coming. When we see something exciting we like to build relationships with that brand and see if they are a good fit for us. Generally we only take one new brand a year if we really like it. However working with innovative brands like Theo or Anne & Valentin, their new collection releases can almost feel like a different brand so that helps keep things fresh.
You have clearly gone out of your way to provide a really special service. Tell us about this and where your priorities lie. Coming to Albert Road is like visiting a good friend. The atmosphere is relaxed; we want people to feel they are in a non-clinical environment. As the building has several rooms, we have renamed the front room, and we call it our ‘Tea Room’. This is where we offer drinks, a bit like a hotel. It the scene for the rest of the show.
Our eye examinations are longer than the average 45 minutes. This allows us to get to know our clients better from a personal perspective. This slow, personal approach means we can highlight opportunities for multiple pair purchases, in the future, where necessary. The eyewear is presented in the ‘Eyewear Gallery’ with a few frames on show, and others hidden in drawers. We like to style people, and this subtle approach of introducing quirky eyewear works very well. Most of all we want our clients to be happy. We always say ‘Our reputation walks around on your face’ and we want this to be spectacular. This friendly relaxed approach has won us many fans.
This January, a second shop – Station Road Optician – has opened in Cheadle Hulme. 18 Albert Road, Wilmslow – plan your visit atwww.wilmslowopticians.co.ukCN
Copenhagen Fashion Week is underway, and as always, the Danish brand Ørgreen has something special to show. Its new 3d printed collection with Yuniku is presented in a spectacular design window by GamFratesi at the flagship store in Store Regnegade 1, a street that boasts some of the city’s most fashionable shopping destinations.
Drawing attention to the exclusive customised collection which currently has 12 models in six colours, the GamFratesi installation takes inspiration from Pablo Picasso’s diverse and eclectic approach to portraiture, never rendering one face in the same way. The accentuated quirks of Picasso’s portraits—evident in the portrayal of his muses Dora Maar, Olga Khokhlova, and his daughter, May—work to celebrate the diversity amongst people: their unique shape, size, and spirit.
The partnership between Ørgreen and Yuniku is an extension of Ørgreen’s desire to provide diverse product range choices for a wider spectrum of consumers, always with respect to a Nordic aesthetic, and with an eye for the newest technological innovation.
Meaning “unique” in Japanese, Yuniku celebrates the uniqueness of the human face with a special scanner that measures facial features. By taking the lifestyle of the consumer into account, lenses are individually designed while the frame is 3D printed around the individual’s visual needs, all in all matching vision, face and personal styling. More details at www.orgreenoptics.comCN