Award-winning fashion graduate Becky Hong studied Millinery Design at the Royal College of Art, and fell in love with eyewear, now one of her principle design projects and – she hopes – a possible career path. Eyestylist first met her at the 100% Optical fair in 2017, when she won the fair’s student competition with an exceptional design project entitled My Tribe – in that year students were asked to consider the wearer and their activities and lifestyle, by designing a frame for a specific person and specific use. Becky considered the frame’s capacity to work like make-up. https://www.eyestylist.com/2016/12/rca-x-100-optical/
This year, Eyestylist returned to London to meet Becky at her RCA finals show in June. Allthat Solidity, All that Fragility– RE-FORM looked at breaking – in eyewear and millinery – to ‘re-create’, says the young designer.
“Through challenging the possibilities of the construction based on materiality, the technique of breaking, displacing and replacing both the lenses and the frame itself is reflective of the wearer’s impermanent real life experience and fragility of the wider society…”
The project offered exciting ideas in lens design concepts and frame functionality, extending not only through the refined reconstruction of the “broken” and “reconstructed” designs themselves but also in a strong, minimal concept in packaging. For more details about the young designer visit www.beckyhong.comCN
Eyeshaker is the innovative, practical and proficient way to clean spectacles. The Austrian based creators Martin and Andreas Lasnik (top image) tell Eyestylist the story behind their idea.
How did the creative concept evolve for Eyeshaker? “The vision was to clean your eyewear and do it in a cool and stylish way. You can place the Eyeshaker canister in your kitchen; office or bathroom, because you need it every day. Our target was to make the cleaning container look like a unique decoration or part of your furniture. And here it is…the stylish matt black canister with which you gently shake your glasses – frame and lenses – rendering a beautifully clean result.”
Were there challenges in developing this eyewear accessory? “Sure…it’s always a challenge to create a product. The important thing for us was that the consumer gets 100% clean glasses. Not just lenses, also the frame, nose pads, silicone parts, everything. So it was a lot of work to find the perfect cleaning solution and cloth to make that happen. And finally, we had to tell the optician that this is the perfect add-on sale to every pair of glasses, and the best cleaning solution for the customer.”
What customer feedback have you received about this unique product? “People love it. The way it works; the soft shaking; how it looks: everybody has fun now cleaning their eyewear. They love the feel of putting glasses on the nose after cleaning them. It’s almost like you’re wearing a new pair of glasses.”
How do you market Eyeshaker? “At the moment we sell them to almost every country in Europe. Step by step we are working on the distribution all around the globe. It’s important for us to work with the opticians in a good and fair way…so we are really taking care about how we market Eyeshaker.
Your recently launched the inventive, very adaptable LASNIK Jacket. Are there other items that you would like to launch? “Absolutely…we are working on a LASNIK Shirt where you can store your glasses; it will be perfect for summer. But we are also working on new cleaning products for eyewear, and also on our eyewear brand SEEOO. We are always trying to create something smart, easy, cool or with practical options to simplify the life of the consumer.” www.eyeshaker.com JG
Fascinated by Vogue and the work of couture designers, fashion illustrator Julie McGrath says she finds inspiration in creating their intricate designs on paper. With a profound love of fashion and art, her illustrations reflect a fascination for people watching and a great love for twisting proportions. She also finds creativity and inspiration in the imaginations of her children.
Can you tell us about your background in the arts? Originally from Massachusetts, I am now living in Florida. I attended the University of Massachusetts at Boston earning a bachelor’s degree in Art focusing in Art History. From there I went on to study in Illustration and Design, earning a Master of Arts degree from Savannah College of Art and Design.
And now?I’ve completed a second Masters at SCAD, this time in Art Administration. I teach visual arts and humanities at colleges and universities, and continue to evolve and nurture my style daily.
How long have you been an illustrator? Since I could hold a pencil. But really I only started considering myself an “illustrator” over the last five or six years. That is when I found my groove and my style.
When did you develop an interest in fashion and accessories?
In college. ‘Vogue’ became much more about the artistic concepts and less about the models and the consumer side of things. I started to understand it more as a form of art. Alexander McQueen had a pretty major influence in that understanding. With my love of art and this new understanding of fashion, my style was born! It took me a number of years to get into a rhythm with my specific style.
Who is your favorite designer? Some designers that always grab my attention are Dior, Giambattista Valli, Gucci, YSL…..I could go on and on! I love what Maria Grazia Chiuri is doing with Dior. Gucci is ALWAYS fun to draw.
Do you have a favorite illustration? I cannot say I have a specific favorite drawing. I truly love them all in different ways. However, the most fun are always the illustrations with sunglasses. Yes, my sunnies obsession plays a factor but also those are always the best when they are finished. Those illustrations always get the most attention and reaction and people truly love them.
In terms of the illustrations, I always make it my own by reminding myself that this is my work. In college when I took fine art focused classes, the point was always to draw what you see. I had a hard time shaking that idea and it haunted me in a lot of my illustration classes and then earlier in my career. At one point it just hit me, this style of drawing is mine; I can do what I want. So when I deter from the original image and give a twist on the human form I remind myself it is my work for me. I can do whatever I want.
In 2011, the French eyewear company FACE A FACE launched a second brand, WOOW, a colourful stylish line of off-beat frames with engaging messages on the temples. Eyestylist met the young designers behind the catchy concept, Claire Ferreira and Marianne Dezes (above).
How did you come up with “WOOW” eyewear?In 2011, we had been working on the possibility of creating another brand in addition to FACE A FACE. We wanted it to be young and fresh with an accessible price. We started with the concept of the frame, and focused on the temples or arms which face each other – the original focus of FACE A FACE. We imagined them starting to chat to one another – and that was the beginning of this very different idea. We now see the WOOW label as the child of FACE A FACE.
Why WOOW? Woow is a palindrome, a fun “sound” that people use as an expression for many different things. You can say it any way you want and it is totally spontaneous. As a collection name, it works perfectly with the witty phrases on the temples. We wanted to see if we could create a new relationship with eyewear through this name, inspiring happiness, joy and hope through British inspired humour, colour and the personal touch of the words on different frame styles.
How are the frames styled? The shapes are always trendy and fashionable, for the young and the daring. The touch of colour is really specific in the combination of materials. Our inspiration came from London, but always with a strong influence, naturally, from our own French taste. One of our idiosyncratic design details – highlighting the words at the temple tips – came from the design of the old-fashioned typewriters and their classic round keys.
As designers, you have created something completely different. Are you pleased with the results? WOOW is like our baby, it’s a collection we adore! When we were training, we didn’t only learn about shape and colour and product design, for us designing means thinking too – and coming up with new ideas. With WOOW we had the chance to oversee all the steps, from the concept to the creation of the actual frames, giving life to a brand with an evolution that we hope our wearers will truly enjoy. you don’t just choose a frame with WOOW, it’s really about choosing a lifestyle!
Tell us about the styles releasing this month?The new collection includes different looks: a more “working girl” styling, through to architectural shapes and, on the other hand, some very feminine frames. Bigger trendy silhouettes and a mix of more unusual colours stand out. Our frames are tempting like sweets – it’s difficult choose which one to go for! For more details about WOOW, visit www.wooweyewear.com CN
New Yorker Dayle from @artfulcitystyle describes herself as “combining art and style in Manhattan”. A former advocate and public speaker, today, alongside a busy volunteer job in an art gallery, Dayle is the star of an Instagram account with 20.5k followers created with professional photographer, Denton Taylor (www.dentontaylor.com). Dayle’s clever approach to personal style and enthusiasm and openness to trying new things has turned her into a fashion influencer with particular appeal to a fashion-aware over 40 audience. Eyestylist asked her about her inspiration and passion for clothes, accessories and statement eyeglasses.
Your expertise in styling accessories and eyewear has developed out of a love for fashion and art. Tell us more. I have always viewed style as a form of self-expression. So dressing myself—figuring out how to accessorize an outfit or how to combine pieces— is my art form. I have always been drawn to the arts—both visual and performing arts. I did musical theater for years, worked in an art gallery when I was in school, and now, in my retirement, am a docent at an art museum.
Your unique style involves combining outfits with interesting accessories and glasses/sunglasses. Have you always done this? Accessorizing is something I have always done and had fun with. Social media has not changed anything about how I put myself together. It merely allows me to share it with a larger audience.
Above: Dayle wears VAVA spectacles – model WL 0009 in Mazzuchelli bioplastic- a 100% recyclable material (www.vavaeyewear.com). Photography by @dentontaylor for @artfulcitystyle / NYC.
Eyewear is for you a statement. Do you shop for frames in one optical store and can you tell us about it? Do they offer you style advice or do you seek out particular shapes or colours depending on your apparel/jewellery for the season? Are they finding “original” frames for you or are you shopping around? I buy most of my glasses from Petite Optique (www.petiteoptique.com) in New York. They have a great selection of unique frames. They know me well and know what I like and what will look good on my face and still work with my prescription. I tend to do best with round frames. I am also looking for frames that are unusual and that most resemble art.
How did you come to select the VAVA frame? I had been looking for black frames for quite a while, but wanted something that didn’t look too severe, since I am very fair-skinned. I tried on many many black frames until I saw the VAVA and fell in love with that.
Can you offer any tips on styling eyewear, for anyone who has not considered that their specs are in fact an extension of their personality. How can we approach the overall look and coordinate with everything else we wear successfully? Many people find it difficult to pull off and need to find that confidence. I think that eyeglasses are a great accessory. As long as you need to wear them, celebrate that! I either use eyeglasses to bring a pop of color to an outfit or to color coordinate with what I am wearing. Finding shapes that work best on your face is extremely important.
What have been your favourite frames to wear in terms of shape, colour or unique design?
I mostly wear round frames and I like large glasses. I have a lot of glasses by theo. They come out with interesting and unique designs every year and also have great colors!
Annie and Vanessa are the founders of London brand Frame Chain, a fast moving eyewear accessories brand that is pushing all the right buttons in fashion retail and leading optical boutiques, across the world. As the duo get ready to pack their bags for Capsule, Eyestylist asked them to explain their quick path to success.
How did it all start?(Annie:) I have champagne taste and lemonade budgets! I lost about four pairs of glasses in a week and couldn’t afford to replace them. So I bought a cheap chain for my last pair. I would scour Europe looking for chic ones that didn’t look like a shoe lace or turn my neck green. I failed! So I hounded my then flat mate, soon to be business partner and best friend to make some- she was designing jewelry at the time. To shut me up she suggested we do it together, and FRAME CHAIN was born.
Liberty were the first retailer to stock us in 2014, and they continue to. This is incredible validation and we used their nod of approval to grow confidence in our idea. We have awesome stockists around the globe- mainly independent kick-ass optical boutiques with incredible talent for curated store concepts. We have been suprised by the success in Greece. The Middle East can’t get enough of the pearls! We are in Spain, France, Portugal, and even the Maldives and Taiwan.
You are both creative and very entrepreneurial…would you agree? Thank you for that – it’s a huge compliment. We both love to do things – to make things happen, to go on adventures and be useful! Vanessa is much more creative than I am. She can draw, design, build you a wall, design a house and bake incredible cakes! She is always thinking laterally; her approach to life is unique and pure. She has her own business already and thrives on having freedom to make things happen.
My nick name is ‘the whirlwind’- I am so excitable and determined that if you don’t know me it could feel like you are in a whirlwind. When I have my mind set on something, I make it happen. I studied biology, chemistry and maths, but I love to draw and make things with my hands. That 50/50 ‘left brain right brain’ gives me a good foundation for business. Plus we are both from up north and LOVE to talk and meet new people.
We like to think we are two sides of the same coin, two minds, one vision. We ebb and flow in and out of different roles. We are both designing, both selling, both creating. I do more of the spread sheet things and Vanessa does more of the visual and creative things. We do what we need to to make our little dream a reality. There is no formula!
What has been your most “creative” and exciting project so far? We are working on it as as we speak. But we LOVED doing the pop-up with Cutler & Gross.
One of you lives in London, and one of you in Spain. Does this effect the business in a positive way and if so how? It means we have to be focused, organized and efficient. That can only be good. It means we have different sources of inspiration and two home offices – one significantly sunnier than the other.
Can you describe your latest chains in the collection as there were a few new ones at SILMO, and tell us what you feel your direction is in 2018. We always start with the idea of jewelry. Chains that we want to wear – first and foremost – as a necklace or increasingly as earrings. This season, we focused on that a lot, developing it in three ways:
– the pearl range expanded, with new colours and sizes. Pearls are a trend and here to stay and we are having a lot of fun with this. We are playing with the idea of earrings. So styles like ‘loop de loop’ and ‘drop it’ have embellishments perfectly placed to hang like earrings. There is more of this to come for the summer and the the festival season. And now we are really playing with colours. By introducing rhodium and black enamel for our more masculine fans, we have pushed more rose gold and mixed the metals and colours on one chain. Find more details at www.framechain.comCN
French Eyewear by Pascal Guidice and Christophe Morcamp
Plein Les Mirettes glasses are produced near Evreux, Normandy. Pascal Guidice and Christophe Morcamp shared their eyewear story since creating their women’s eyewear label in January 2013.
Have you both been in eyewear for a while or did you begin your careers in different sectors? Christophe Morcamp: My first job was managing visual impairments and strabismus as an orthoptist. Then, over the years after further training in optics, I took a position as an assistant ophthalmologist. At the same time I created two optical shops in Normandy. This was a new experience and allowed me to learn about French eyewear very quickly. I fell in love when shopping for my stores with the creative collections. Making a collection of my very own soon started to appeal to me.
Pascal has a background in R&D, purchase management and finance – in other areas of business. It is the union of our complementary skills that has enabled Plein Les Mirettes to establish itself as a specialist in women’s eyewear in just five years.
Has it been difficult to grow your small label and what has been the main challenge? What has been the best thing for both of you?
We are lucky; the collection quickly finds an audience. The graphic quality and the traditional French production of our glasses enabled us to quickly find our place in a market which is already saturated.
In the first year, we opened more than 200 customer accounts in France, started exporting to Italy with Mattis our distributor there, and also to the Netherlands and Belgium. We were able to develop sufficiently for Pascal to leave his job to join me in this beautiful adventure in eyewear!
You are only designing women’s frames but their appeal is huge! What is your focus? Why do women love your frame styles?
Plein Les Mirettes is addressed specifically to women. I wanted to have fun drawing, but also to address a lot of women through these designs. I think women appreciate the glasses because they have been made especially for them!
You have a sensitive colour palette – that is broad and quite complex in terms of the graduated effects and transparency. Is this a natural gift or has it taken a lot of work to arrive at this in acetate?
I have a natural sensitivity to colour that comes from my childhood. I was lucky to be surrounded by women with strong characters and assertive tastes. I learnt a lot about what they liked.
In recent years, what have been your favourite trips abroad? Tell us a bit about this experience.
We are both a bit wild and we occasionally enjoy partying with a few special friends. During the many trips that we are now making to the various eyewear fairs around the world, we go out very little and dedicate ourselves exclusively to work. However we sometimes take a few extra days away from the madness of Vegas or NYC; we enjoy walking around the streets of Copenhagen or making personal visits to see our distributor in Canada or Tel Aviv.
We are fascinated by your factory in Normandy and its traditional production. Feel free to talk about this as it must be a huge benefit for you to have an intimate relationship with your producers and to live so close to them?
Our production is just near our house and this is a major asset for our success. The workshop and the team working there are close to us and understand our tastes. Being “on the spot” allows me to have access to some of their acetate stock and I think it makes me more responsive to the demands of women and opticians. I can also have an eye on every step of the production and have some things changed in real time if need be. But just as much as this proximity, another important thing is our producer’s know-how and recognised expertise.
Finally, what do you both love doing outside eyewear? What inspires you and what makes you feel happy or creatively inspired?
Pascal and I love to spend our life at work. We have the chance to work together, and we have our offices within the floors of our house in Normandy.
We are very different in our interests. I love cooking, gardening, and spending time modifying the decor of the rooms in the house, drawing objects, clothes, accessories. Pascal loves reading and visiting museums; and he absolutely loves ‘shoes’. www.plein-les-mirettes.fr CN
A great fit and avantgarde style: Sandra Kaufmann and Monica Fink, the founders of award-winning Sol Sol Ito, who come from outside the eyewear sector, told Clodagh Norton about their approach to design, as their new styles launch for the coming season.
“As designers we need to be aware of our role in creating personality”
How did you come to set up Sol Sol Ito? We both wear glasses – me for distance (Sandra) and Monika for better close-up vision. We happened to be searching for a perfect frame which would fit correctly and then we started to create our own ideas. With our different optical prescriptions we felt this was a good starting point. The name of the brand came from Sausalito, the seaside town north of San Francisco.
What are your backgrounds as you are both from outside eyewear? Monika studied sculptural art in Barcelona and Geneva after an apprenticeship in design engineering. I am an industrial designer with years of experience in the Swiss watch industry. As a student, Sandra wanted to work at the Philippe Starck studio and ended up, by chance, working for Alain Mikli, a close friend of Starck and the eyewear partner of the Starck collection, where she learnt a lot about glasses.
You are keen on craftsmanship and quality – how did this come about and tell us a little about the frames – where are they made and what materials do you prefer? Traditionally, Swiss design is quite minimal, smart, adhering to a high quality standard. We are both innovation driven in our fields, and that’s why we started to work on a special hinge as a USP. For weeks, we were bending and cutting wire in Monika’s art studio. In the Swiss watch industry, we found a small manufacturer who was able to produce our metal parts. It’s difficult to produce our temples, although they look so simple. The acetate comes from Italy, and we put everything together in our studio in the centre of Zurich. We can check every detail of each frame ourselves, and that’s important to us.
Can you talk about the “open” design of the temple – the origin of this and how it has evolved since you started the collection? A strong, unique brand recognition is helpful for a newcomer in the market. We searched for an eye-catching design element that would be functional and aesthetically interesting. As we use the same temple shape for the different fronts, opticians can easily exchange the temple colours. Logistically this is interesting for a start-up: it’s the concept of an ‘eyewear kit’. Our first collection had very thick temples and was quite extreme; subsequently, we made the frames lighter and thinner and easier to adjust. Swiss people do not tend to wear heavy frames.
How does your use of colour represent the brand – you use some daring citrus and very bright tones, what inspires this mood? We don’t have a particular source of inspiration for the colour palette. We are inspired by many things, throughout the day – even with closed eyes you get wonderful inspiration. Monika is working on the colours, it’s her passion. The combination of a functional, technically inspired frame concept and an extreme, often elaborate colour range is our speciality. It’s a ‘feeling’, and something that’s in the air.
What is coming up in the collection? Cool new feminine pilot sunglasses in flashy colours. That’s what we will be wearing next season! Sol Sol Ito will exhibit at #SILMO50 in October. For more details visit www.solsolito.comCN Still life images by Hans Hansen.
If Roberta Baines is travelling, she’s likely to be somewhere beautiful, or supremely warm and sunny. From Tavat’s Italian HQ in the province of Treviso to the coast of California, her travels have brought business success and notoriety to the small independent brand, now well-known in the luxury eyewear community as the innovators of a unique hinge design in the “SoupCan” Series. We caught up with her in Europe between trips….
Explain how you are involved in the design of the TAVAT collection and its evolution? We are a family business, so everything we do is a collaboration and a conversation. My father, Jeremy, brings forth a lot of great “technical” ideas; whilst I have more of a feel for what’s happening in the market with regard to trends. I might know what we’re missing in our collection and where there’s opportunity and Jeremy will be able to apply that “TAVAT Touch”, ensuring there is always a technical imprint included. We work closely with our team of designers to ultimately create a new collection, and I focus on the details while Jeremy on the function and fit. Everything we do will have final approval from both of us.
You are constantly ‘on the road’. Explain your love of travel and what have been the high points in the last couple of years? Travelling makes the world a lot smaller and makes you realize that despite the cultures… we, as people, aren’t very different. I thrive on being in a place I’ve never been to before. I’m influenced and inspired by other ways of life: the food, the colours, the language, the history, the scenery… I think once you start to travel, it’s really hard to stop.
I’m grateful that I am able to travel while simultaneously building our brand TAVAT. I get the opportunity to meet our team, understand new markets, trends and fashion on a local level and collaborate with amazing people from around the globe. It’s very hard to choose one high point – there are many! – but one that comes to mind, just because it has always been a lifelong dream, was to visit Thailand and I did have the opportunity last year after the Hong Kong show. It’s also very cool to see that TAVAT is growing very well there! There are a lot of special projects and ‘Thailand Exclusives’ in the pipeline. I can’t wait to share them!
Explain how the two designs pictured here represent TAVAT in 2017 and comment on any details/innovations they represent. This is only the start of us playing with our popular “SoupCan” frame… by applying unique manipulations, which, for SILMO, you’ll begin to see more and more. We are experimenting with various applications, even with different materials, to give an already progressive design even more dimension. We continue to focus on the details, while continuing to improve on the overall function and fit of a frame. We often say “When Design is Limitless” – we’ll continue to do our best to make an even more intriguing product with a story to tell.
Can you give our readers a hint of what you will launch this Autumn? In addition to further exploring our SoupCan Collection, our Tactile Collection is getting a whole new look and feel as we will be releasing 4 new styles, with a new hinge and, in my opinion, a much stronger message than ever before. In addition, we will be featuring our first capsule collection, together with a wildly talented “Art Center College of Design” student. We had an amazing “Design-Flash” last year at the University, and when you see what these guys can do, well, we couldn’t help but be inspired. We will be presenting the first frame this SILMO – we will have more to share on this soon. www.tavat-eyewear.com – Photo (top) exclusively for Eyestylist.com by Elisa Biscotti – www.elisabiscotti.de CN
The CEO of Italy’s fast-growing independent titanium brand Blackfin, Nicola del Din, talked to Eyestylist about eyewear heritage and his passion for life outside optics.
Tell us about you as a “creative”. Your training, biggest influences in terms of aesthetics/details/colours and your interests such as photography.I have a deep interest in technology, graphics and imagery. I have had this interest since I was at school. At that time, we didn’t have anything like the technological opportunities of today. But I was still very much into computers and I remember my first pcs…a Commodor 16, then the 64 and the Commodor Amiga which I used with a camera to make videos at school! I also love digital photography and the opportunities we have now to modify imagery via apps and special programs.
Music is also one of my great interests, particularly with the multimedia aspects: video represents the perfect synthesis of all my passions: IT, graphics and music, all in one! My work is to produce excellent eyewear and my passions can therefore become a function of my work. I couldn’t ask for more. I am very lucky for that – my job has become a life focus which I can develop and grow thanks to the contributions of many people around me.
Blackfin is a young fast-growing company. What is the ingredient that been most important in allowing it to develop so successfully? Incredibly, the crisis. At the time and through the 1990s we were reflecting on our future, and what we were wanting to achieve. We realised that technical capabilities were not enough and that is was essential to have a strong communications strategy for the brand. So we started again. We are like a start-up but we are 47 years old! It’s a contradiction in terms but that’s what has happened: we combined our experience in production with a new fresh enthusiasm to start out on a new adventure.
Blackfin has its own design team, but you are clearly a creative “driving force” when it comes to campaigns and marketing? Blackfin today is the ideal realisation of the potential I could see 10 years ago. And this vision is not just about the product, but rather a precise image and method of communication. The amazing thing is it just keeps running: my head is firmly looking forward into the future.
Tell us about your collaborations which are far from ordinary? Our collaborations can be out of the ordinary and unexpected. This is because we go beyond the product to find shared social, geographic, moral and cultural values. This is the case with Cipriani: what we have in common is the constant research dedicated to offering excellence in Italian products. Excellence understood as authentic luxury which, as Arrigo Cipriani reminds us, is the expression of a complex simplicity.
We found a similar synergy with Andrea Bocelli. Andrea is a great artist, and an Italian man of great integrity. Our collaboration with him and his Foundation represents sharing a vision towards Italian excellence and authenticity. Continue reading “Nicola del Din, Blackfin”→
Timeless Danish design characterises the individualistic creations by FLEYE Copenhagen. Annette Esto shares with Eyestylist the heritage of the design driven collections.
Please tell us about the history of Fleye Copenhagen. “FLEYE was founded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2002 by my two partners, Hanne Anderson and Lars Halstroem, and I. All three of us worked together in another company where we also designed eyewear: we did a lot of export and attended the same fairs as now. All the experience that we had, good and bad, was fundamental when we made our business plan for FLEYE. From day one, we asked ourselves: why should people buy frames from us? What can we offer that is different from what is already on the market? At the time other brands made very thin and invisible frames, so we decided to go in another direction, to be more expressive, more colourful and different, and customers loved if from the beginning. We wanted to have a red thread in all that we did: corporate colours, designed shipping boxes and a very high service level. We tried to do our very best, just like we do today.”
FLEYE designs are eco-friendly – could you please share with us the background on this concept? “All of our eyewear frames are allergy-friendly and made from nickel-free materials. As an optician I have seen many customers suffer from nickel, especially 25 years ago before the CE marking was mandatory. It makes sense to invest in the best material that does not contain any nickel.”
The frame colours are gorgeous – are you inspired by nature? fashion? travel? art? “Thank you. After I started to design frames, I looked at the world in a different way. My eyes always (without even focusing on it) search for details, patterns, colours, structure, and materials that I can use or be inspired by. When I travelled in India I visited the Taj Mahal early morning to study how the Marble Palace changed colours from sunrise to sunset. The patterns are not noticeable at first, but when light is striking them magic happens. I used the colours in its combination in our collection. The same happened in Marrakesh with all their grids in the buildings, and the lovely colours of the earth in the mountains outside the city. Shanghai by night at The Bund inspired me to use bright coloured temples together with black carbon fibre (the black Yangse River against the colourful skyscrapers). I am also inspired by trends in everything from subcultures, art and architecture to interior design and fashion.”
What materials are your favourite in which to create frames? “A tough question because it all appeals to me, especially when I can combine carbon with natural wood, and the flexibility in beta-titanium temples. I love warm and exciting colours and acetate patterns. I was wondering how to achieve that in a carbon frame, so we coloured our wooden surfaces in the most beautiful shades of Indigo Blue, Majestic Purple and Velvet Black.”
What is the customer profile of the FLEYE frame wearer? “FLEYE is for the urban, modern day consumer with a strong sense of design aesthetics, and a confident attitude of individual expression who appreciates wearing a frame that is light, comfortable and eco friendly. Style has nothing to do with age.”
This year marks the 15th anniversary of FLEYE. What are the most defining changes in eyewear that you have experienced during this time? “I see a shift from eyewear being a medical product to being an accessory. If you could not see, then you needed glasses. But now glasses are no longer focused primarily on function, but on fashion too. Eyewear is now seen as an expression of style, and just as important a statement as shoes, bags and jewellery.”
As a brand that sells globally, how do you foresee the market unfolding in the next two-three years? “In the future we will see much more competition of the low price segment vs. the high-end segment including innovation, brand concept and corporate identity. Design wise I think shapes will be more edgy in a geometric way.There will be space for niche and independent designs – it may be slim and simple styles, or bold and demanding.” www.fleye.dkJG
The Norwegian independent brand Karmoie derives its name from the Sanskrit word karma meaning “action” or “deed” and the French word joie for “joy”. With this stimulating philosophy, Kirsten and Lars created the company in 2013 with their concept of excellence, integrity and quality. Karmoie was awarded The Butterfly Mark by Positive Luxury, for the brand’s commitment to protect the planet’s resources. They share their perspective with Eyestylist.
Please tell us about how Karmoie was created. “We knew that we wanted to create a business that reflects our values and our personalities. Social commitment and creating a product that feels as good as it looks was at the core. The idea of doing that within the industry came to us as we were driving around in the South of France. It was one of those moments where everything just felt right. We knew we had a lot of research to do and an industry we knew nothing about to figure out, but we just had to go for it.”
Your designs are streamlined and pure – how do you develop your concepts? “We don’t really launch extensive new collections every season; rather we add on a couple of styles so our collection is always made up of both models from the first years and a few new releases. Whenever we develop a new model we make sure that it fits in with the rest of our frames, and that the colour palette remains cohesive.”
What inspires you – nature, architecture, colours – when you are creating frames? “We are inspired by everything that surrounds us. Our friends and family, their style and requests give us ideas. While fashion is always inspiring, the pace of fast fashion is so stressful, so we seek more towards architecture and interior design, as that feels more built to last. When it comes to colours, we believe that nature is flattering on everyone, so our colour palette and patterns are based on soft, natural shades.”
How did your partnership with Eyejusters come about? “We had seen a segment on The Colbert Report about social innovation that featured adjustable glasses. Since we are not opticians or optometrists ourselves, the way Eyejusters work, allowing anyone to participate in distributing glasses, really resonated with us. With more than 700 million people worldwide without access to refractive care, it is great to be able to recruit anyone who wants to participate in helping. It also makes it possible to reach out to very remote areas that are hard to access with trained personnel and advanced equipment.”
Karmoie is now entering its fifth year – what is the most rewarding aspect of your work? “We love hearing feedback from our customers and from our donation projects. Seeing people wear and enjoy our eyewear validates all the effort we put into creating them. Hearing from our donation partners and following the important work that they do in the field gives us hope and motivation.”
Any additional insights you would like to enumerate about Karmoie? “We believe that every positive action has a positive impact. We created a brand that is mindful of the importance in all the big and small choices we make on our way to the final product. For this we have been awarded the Positive Luxury Butterfly Mark. Awareness is spreading and we are proud to be part of it.” www.karmoie.comJG
Our eyewear world is full of inspirational and passionate women. Designer Birgitte Falvin from Denmark is relatively new to, starting her career in jewellery. “Jewellery has been my playground from the early days, I have worked with many different aspects of the creative process in jewellery. In the beginning, while I was still studying surface design, I was creating handmade pieces that were sold in independent fashion boutiques in Florence and Copenhagen. The collection had a couture feel, and the statement pieces were eco-friendly. I used a mix of materials, such as vintage pearls, gold wire and couture yarn. I was very interested in surface design and fashion jewellery, and was happy to discover that the department for surface design at the Designskolen Kolding (where I was studying) had a similar approach to the design process as the Institut for Ædelmetal – the design department for jewellery design in Copenhagen.”
Birgitte launched her first eyewear collection in September 2015, and today she is working exclusively on luxurious titanium designs. “Titanium is a lightweight material making it the perfect choice for fashionable, oversized frames. Falvin´s frames often get compliments for their comfortable fit. I find the clean look of titanium interesting, and I like to soften the design with matte and shiny precious lines of rose gold, palladium and 24 carat gold.”
Today, the collection makes a feature of luxury diamonds, beautiful hand cut lens details and unexpected colour mixes. The frames combine an aesthetic attitude with the edginess of Nordic architecture, optimizing the genius of Danish and Japanese craftsmanship. “As a designer, I always look forward to the development of new collections. There are so many possibilities and materials to explore. It is exciting to watch the the brand grow and expand.”
Architecture remains a source of design inspiration for every detail, as it did when the brand first launched. Birgitte explains: “At the beginning, my husband and I walked around Copenhagen, seeking a strong source of inspiration for an elegant eyewear concept. The Royal Danish Library, the iconic modern library building was the perfect inspiration for a collection that represented a blend of contemporary elegance and a cool aesthetic attitude, strongly infused with Nordic references.”
Copenhagen’s iconic Black Diamond houses the Royal Danish Library. “Its irregular angles fascinated me. When the light reflects off the building’s granite-clad surfaces, magic happens. The Falvin team visited the building many times at different hours to see the changing light and colours and to study the building inside and out. We took a lot of photographs, enjoying the asymmetrical design and the beautiful colour palette.”
Today, all Falvin´s frames are based on this concept, and the graphic references are paired with matte and shiny yellow gold, rose gold and palladium details. Frames can be customised with sparkling Wesselton diamonds that recall the glittering surface of the water that surrounds the Black Diamond. Falvin Eyewear will exhibit at Copenhagen Specs this weekend. More details:www.falvineyewear.comCN
Silvana Stefanovic-Riley @embellish_or_perish talks to Eyestylist about glasses, Advanced Style, and a lifelong passion for fashion…
“I started wearing eyeglasses to correct short-sightedness in high school,” says Silvana when we start to look into her first experiences of eyewear. “In those days I saw this as an impediment and I only wore glasses when I absolutely had to.” It’s a common reaction, yet, after a while, like many, she found a new direction in her glasses.
“Over time I relaxed into wearing my prescription sunglasses and started to appreciate them as an accessory that can enhance the look rather than detract from it. As for sunglasses, having lived in Australia for over 40 years, this harsh sunlight requires good sun protection for eyes.”
Photo credit (above): Lauren Farley of @doculifephotography
Explaining her favourite styles, Silvana is inspired by design and individuality: “I love colour and accessories. This makes it easy to find glasses to suit each outfit, mood and occasion. Each year, I buy two pairs of prescription glasses or sunglasses to add to my collection. I have recently purchased this year’s glasses. I have sent one of these frames to Brazil to be hand painted by the talented Erida Schaefer of La Frida Eyewear.”
Sunglasses in particular provide an opportunity for some fun and self-expression. With a sizable collection Silvana says she is always on the lookout for new and different sunglasses to add to the stash. “On occasion. sunnies also provide a much needed confidence boost by covering up the effects of the odd sleepless night. I often take selfies in the same outfit but change the sunglasses and the difference that sunglasses make to the overall aesthetic is incredible, she says.
“I had followed Ari Seth Cohen’s Advanced Style Blog and IG for a number of years as a ‘passive’ observer,” explains Silvana when we ask about her pictures in Advanced Style. “I do not recall how I initially came across Advanced Style in the first place, however there was a recurring theme of older women using personal style as a form of self-expression. These women radiate vitality, zest for life and creativity that defies the societal expectations of older people. Older people in general, and especially older women with grey hair, are not seen as being at the forefront of social change. Yet the Advanced Style movement initiated by Ari Seth Cohen is now a worldwide phenomenon.”
Through Ari’s Blog and Instagram, Silvana got to ‘know’ many other Advanced Stylistas, and learnt what gives them the life’s energy to continue to be active, creative and self-expressive older women. “I always thought that I would eventually become somehow involved with the spirit of this sentiment”, she explained. “However full-time work and other family commitments alway took precedent. Despite this, my interest in the Advanced style phenomenon continued. I admired the first Advanced Style Book, then the Documentary movie and eventually the second book – Advanced Style Older and Wiser.” Continue reading “Silvana Stefanovic-Riley @embellish_or_perish”→
Numerous and varied inspirations influence designers, and for Tim Van Steenbergen (above) his muses include music, opera and ballet. He has created costumes for Richard Wagner’s The Ring; La Scala in Milan; and the Staatsoper in Berlin, and now the Ballet Viaanderen. His latest foray is a personal interpretation of Limited Edition sunglasses based on the ballet masterpiece of Maurice Ravel –Pictures at an Exhibition. The composition is by Modest Mussorgsky, in an orchestration by Ravel, and is part of a triple bill performed by Ballet Viaanderen in Belgium.
Van Steenbergen shared with Eyestylist some of the background events for the Limited Edition glasses. “The idea was one big creative process,” said Van Steenbergen,”as when I started this project with Ballet Viaanderen, I wasn’t thinking about creating new frames. However, I discussed this with some colleagues, and realised the stage is dominated by five golden frames, and the story of a world in front of and behind the frames: to watch while being watched.
“That reminded me of frames. People are looking at you through the frame, and you look back at them. And just at that moment, theo asked me about creating a special Limited Edition! The main thing about the frames is ‘being watched.’¨ That’s why I chose the golden aspect – and it also refers to the golden frames onstage, which the dancers move through. With the golden mirrored lenses people look at you; but you don’t show them everything.”
The dance idiom in the ballet is tranquil and fluid, and translated into eyewear – this means bold forms in black, highlighted with golden edges in 24-carat gold. The reflective gold lenses are a reference to the interaction with the artist – or in this instance – the wearer. Six elegant models are available, wrapped in a cleaning cloth with a pattern from the costumes designed by Van Steenbergen for Pictures at an Exhibition, and stylishly packaged in a protective hard case. www.theo.beJG
Smoke x Mirrors – the New York label that launched last year – is the creative endeavour of two cousins: David Shabati and Roi Ironi (above). Roi tells Eyestylist how they started their business.
Please give a brief history of how Smoke x Mirrors was created? “It started in Mexico when I lost my glasses. I went out to replace them, but couldn’t find anything I liked – it all looked the same to me. After this, I couldn’t help but to explore, and that’s when I recognised the lack of innovation in the industry, and the white space waiting to be tapped into. After working in the watch business, a very traditional industry from a manufacturing standpoint, I saw eyewear as an opportunity and vehicle to really express creativity, and push technology to reach the desired design level.”
How would you describe the fashion concept and philosophy of Smoke x Mirrors? “We approach eyewear as a means of fashion innovation. Outside of our core collection, we release diverse, radically different capsule collections, and collaborations that don’t necessarily adhere to a set identity – that’s where the name comes in. It gives us the freedom to play and experiment with design, to push boundaries on the technical and aesthetic level. ”
What is the customer profile – and consumer marketplace – of the Smoke x Mirrors frame wearer? “Our glasses are genderless and ageless. Simply put, my girlfriend and my father wear the same frames.”
As newcomers to the eyewear industry – what are the biggest challenges so far? “The classic industry is not relevant as it is today, but is undergoing a seismic shift that we’re set to lead.”
In the next three years, how do you foresee Smoke x Mirrors developing your own identity, and distinguishing your brand in the eyewear business? “In terms of identity, time is not relevant – whether’s it’s now or in three years, we’ll still be Smoke x Mirrors.” www.smokexmirrors.com Smoke x Mirrors will presenttheir latest capsule collection – GEO – at Silmo in Paris 23rd-26th September. www.silmoparis.comJG
What feeds a Creative Spirit? For Brent Zerger, Director of Communications at l.a. Eyeworks in California, it’s the arts, architecture, eyewear and food! Insightful, curious, blessed with a deliciously wicked sense of humour, and a passionate eyewear advocate, Brent shares his views on life and living with Eyestylist.
Please give us a brief profile about your professional career. “After graduate school, my professional career began in the contemporary art world. I worked for nearly a decade in a curatorial/programming capacity with The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) here in Los Angeles; also as an independent curator; and as a public art officer helping to oversee the artworks in the MTA transit system of L.A. county. The second big chapter of my career began as the manager of a retail store for l.a. Eyeworks that opened in 2002. I became Director of Communication for the company in 2007 and the story continues!”
What sparked your passion in eyewear? “True story: my passion for eyewear began as a passion for l.a. Eyeworks as a brand. Growing up in the relatively rural Midwest, there weren’t a lot of cultural avenues to explore – and I was hungry! But I remember somehow getting my hands on Interview magazine and taping the l.a. Eyeworks portrait ads to my bedroom wall. I was hypnotised by their glamour, mystery, and incredible energy. That I would one day stand in Greg Gorman’s studio to watch him shoot one of those portraits is such a meaningful completion of a circle for me.”
If you could have been born in another era, what century would you choose, and why? “Truly, there isn’t one I would choose. I’m happy in this time and place. BUT…if I could have misspent my young adulthood in southern California in the 1960’s, I imagine that would have been a very fine thing.”
l.a.Eyeworks is based in Los Angeles – do you think the city continues to be an international, inspirational source for art, fashion, etc.? “For many reasons, it’s hard to comprehend the breadth of Los Angeles and the scale of the things that are produced here. It’s a full spectrum show. From the scientific geniuses working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to the worst reality TV, from superstars of the art world to Star Wars-branded non-dairy coffee creamer, love it or hate it: what L.A. ‘says’ is incredibly influential. Los Angeles is so engaging to me because it’s constantly reinventing itself with little regard to the past, and an anxious grasp for the future. It can be daring, gorgeous, audacious, and horrible all at the same time. Whatever the case, it’s intensely visual and I love that. At this moment, what’s particularly interesting to me is watching these huge production fields – television, film, music – as they pivot to adapt to the realities of the proliferating on-demand economy. While this dynamic is being felt in every field (including fashion, travel, transportation, and so on), I’m keeping a keen eye on Hollywood because the stakes are so enormous. It’s a sea change of operatic proportions!”
Nowadays, who do you think most influences eyewear styles and market appeal? “I doubt my answers to this question would surprise anyone. Whether it’s celebrities or red carpet designers, or massive ad campaigns by mega-labels, I pay attention…and then I don’t. There’s the influence of those who know how to meet all the expectations, and then there’s the influence of those who startle the world by going their own way. Personally, I’m so much more interested in any person I meet who sees their glasses as a way to stand out from the crowd. I don’t care if the frames came from a yard sale or a boutique; when I see anyone who’s wearing glasses to express their individuality and not their allegiance to trend, that’s when I get excited.”
Please select a favourite fashion moment that inspires you. “What comes immediately to mind is the Apollo 11 spacesuit worn by Buzz Aldrin to walk on the surface of the moon in 1969. That helmet with the gold mirrored shield? Now that’s a radical, avant-garde garment! To me, the space suit says everything about the future we’ve come to live: the integration of apparatus and the body, not to mention the role of outfit as a metaphor for the complex relationship between humans and their environment. Right behind that as a close runner-up would be the fishtail gown that Divine wore in John Waters “Pink Flamingos,” which today looks almost like a prophecy!” www.laeyeworks.comJG
Top image: “Los Angeles is a fertile ground for amazing architecture.” Brent attending an event at the Fitzpatrick-Leland House in Laurel Canyon, designed by architect R.M. Schindler (1936). https://makcenter.orgThe MAK Center for Art & Architecture oversees the Fitzpatrick-Leland House http://www.hereslookingatyoula.com/#hlay
With great personal flair and style, plus fashion forward vision – meet David Duralde. Eyestylist speaks with the Chief Creative Officer at Kenmark Optical.
Please tell us about your professional career. “Raised in Southern California, an Orange County boy, I embraced the spirit of optimism, adventure and innovation that is key to the sunshine state. California has a tradition of creating trends that question convention – setting fashion on its ear with things like surf wear, sports and workout clothes to the boardroom, jeans at a formal dinner – nothing was sacred or precious in LA. From a town that lets a person make his own history, this was a fertile brewing ground for my creative start. Then moving to Los Angeles to study at UCLA, I was immersed in the looking good culture. So it was this strange mix living in a place and time when young ideas bucking the establishment were the norm, and people wanting to completely transform themselves through fashion, design and fitness – this became a major driver that convinced me I could make people look and feel better, and pay the rent. As I was fortunate enough to work under Barbara McReynolds and Gai Gherardi from l.a.Eyeworks, I got an early taste of the importance of design reaching out to many disciplines in culture – fashion, architecture, music, photography, food, literature and fine art. In other words, I developed a huge desire to make the world more beautiful by expressing myself through design.”
What sparked your passion in eyewear? “From the minute I started as a product manager, developing eyewear under the tutelage of great spirited eyewear designers, I knew this was for me. It was incredible that I could be part of a team that opens people’s eyes to their own radiance and beauty. I learned so much about the craft and technology of making eyewear. It was incredible to me in the early 90’s that you could take machinery and techniques from other industries, and experiment with them for the first time in our industry. Most importantly I became so passionate about eyewear because it seemed you could do so many things from a design perspective to make eyewer unique, yet everyone thought it was just two circles, or rectangles and a bridge with temples.”
Why and what do you think is the most original, spirited time period in fashion, that influences today’s eyewear industry? “I believe eyewear has the freedom to include many points of inspiration from many time periods. It’s a multitude of influences and influencers. The 70’s and 80’s glam story is timeless and elevating, while the chunky, funky 50’s nerd theme always makes people feel smart and edgy. I particularly like the attention to detail from the 30’s and 40’s that infuses an old English wallflower sexiness to the product.”
Please name three women and three men whom you think have profoundly influenced fashion? “Diana Vreeland; Miuccia Prada; Anna Wintour; Halston; Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein.”
Nowadays, what and whom do you feel are the most important motivators in fashion? “Looking good and creating a unique persona that communicates who you are is the key motivator to embrace fashion.”
Where are your favourite travel destinations – and why? “Paris – love the 24-hour energy and the fairy tale feeling every time you walk up and down the historical streets. Of course, exquisite chocolate at every corner doesn’t hurt either. Milan – I love the juxtaposition of industrial grit and sheer fashion polish in the DNA of this city. The delicious food is accessible to everyone at every price point, fresh, modern and straightforward. People work to live in this city, rather than live to work like most U.S. cities. Italian culture is a clear reminder that living life to the fullest every single day is the best mantra.” www.kenmarkoptical.comJG
New York based textile designer John Robshaw on travel, textile design and a sunglasses collaboration with Mondelliani
“I am travelling regularly in India, Asia and now Africa and South America,” explains John Robshaw, the textile designer who has linked up in collaboration with Mondelliani in Rome, the independent label co-founded by Federico Mondello. “I met Federico through a mutual friend who had given me a pair of Mondelliani sunglasses. We started to think about a collection that experimented with my textile designs. A meeting in Rome, one in NYC, and we had come up with these incredible sunglass designs. It was interesting and fun. I hadn’t imagined there were so many things to know about eyewear, it is a fascinating world.”
“When you look at my textiles it is as if you have been on a world tour alongside me.” John Robshaw
Available at www.johnrobshaw.com, sunglass design has been a new departure for the John Robshaw Textiles emporium which specialises in bedding, wardrobe, tabletop, curtains and travel accessories. The frames have unique decorations and all the benefits of the quality artisan finish of a Mondelliani design. The frame shape Sanganer, one of the first styles created in the collection is inspired by an old Indian frame, recovered by John during one of his trips in Asia.
The John Robshaw brand continues to expand through new collaborative projects, although Robshaw’s passion for the world keeps him on the road as much as possible. “By working abroad I became a minor character in the lives of the people I work with, and get inspired by what I see and do there. I go to their weddings, celebrate their festivals, get sick with them. I develop relationships with the people who are teaching me.” For more information about John Robshaw and Mondelliani, Rome, visit www.mondelliani.it / www.johnrobshaw.com/fashion/sunglasses.htmlCN
The man behind the luxury label Finest Seven has designed international eyewear collections as well as setting up his own British label in 2011 – with Ainjali Fine. Since our first interview with Jesse Stevens in July of that year, the label has become sought after for its authentic luxury style and attention to technical detail and precise handcrafting, a focus it has upheld and developed throughout the last five years.
What is your view of eyewear and how it has changed since you started working in it? I love the eyewear industry. I am constantly learning and take great pleasure in gaining knowledge from the old makers of the eyewear world – when frames were literally made by hand. I have a small workshop where I make frames by hand for friends and family. There is an increasing number of new brands coming to the eyewear market compared to when I first started over 10 years ago. The main point of change is the amount of fashion brands wanting to expand their accessories ranges to include eyewear or fashion brands wanting to do collaborations with existing eyewear houses under license.
You are an innovator and design expert in eyewear….how did you get to that point? I have always had an affinity towards a simple but beautiful design aesthetic, first gaining a degree in sculpture, I then obtained a scholarship to attend a product design school in Paris. I became friends with the son of famed Spanish sculptor Miguel Berrocal. He made it sound like his dad did it for a hobby but in fact he was a highly achieved artist who had made a very successful career out of being a sculptor. I ended up working as his apprentice for two years.
I then moved back to New Zealand to finish my 2nd degree in Product Design. After working on various design projects including furniture, interiors, architectural fittings and lighting I finally found work with Cutler and Gross as a production manager and designer working under Marie Wilkinson, where I learnt my craft.
I have found that my combined skills and experiences have shaped the way I design. I see eyewear as design objects as well as sculptures in their own right. I am very interested in the idea of functional sculpture and eyewear definitely fits into this group of products.
You have worked for top level eyewear companies including Roland Mouret, Oliver Goldsmith and Kering. How has that experience enriched your work? Working with different brands means that I get to experience building and contributing to a wide range of styles and concepts. This strengthens the scope of my design work and also allows me to be flexible and robust within my design thinking and problem solving. As a consultant designer I am very happy to have a wide variety within my client base, some production work, some smaller niche brands as well as the larger commercial projects. An ideal stable of clients includes a broad mix of projects and this is when I am happiest.
What most inspires you? Are you an archive fanatic? I really enjoy referencing the past and am a keen vintage eyewear collector. I love to learn about the history of eyewear and have recently been studying the Anger family from Austria and their contribution to the eyewear industry. One of whom owned Silhouette, another owned Viennaline that went onto become Optyl, producing collections for Carrera and Serge Kirchhofer. The third developing the first automatic machinery for cutting out eyewear from acetate revolutionising the whole industry. A truly great family achievement. As a starting point I always start with a brief or a description of the desired outcome supplied by my clients. Sometimes this is very much based in historical context, other times I am able to develop a completely separate narrative that allows me to design a collection without reflecting on vintage product at all. Complex brands like Alexander McQueen require a profound knowledge of the brand and a very close working relationship with their internal team to produce something that resonates with the brands DNA.
What makes the independent eyewear niche interesting now? Independent eyewear is getting better and better – the design, the quality, the passion. A few years ago, 3D modelling was a bit of a dream, but now many top brands are using this technique. Another obvious development in niche brands has been the sheer number of them in the market. It is a buyer’s market now with a vast number of exciting small brands starting up. From the public’s point of view the market is offering a wonderful range of eyewear for every taste.
What is your focus now at Finest Seven? What has changed since we first interviewed you in 2011?
We still appreciate clean minimalist lines in our eyewear and are now moving towards superlight metal, in shapes that are interesting and at the same time very easy to wear. We have streamlined our packaging and been thinking a lot about the future and how we can make Finest Seven memorable in a very full market. We still enjoy working with a small family brand that is able to offer a level of personal service and care that are impossible to achieve on a larger scale. As we grow, it is important to focus on this and make sure we continue to make eyewear that we are proud of and reflect our core values.
Where can we find Finest Seven glasses? Is your distribution expanding? Up until now we have simply visited stores that we liked as we travel around the world for work and pleasure. We are only a small family team this has been fantastic but unfortunately we are not able to physically get everywhere we need to be. We have finally begun to look into using agents. If it were possible, I think we would both prefer to work out of our studio in east London and stay small, but business doesn’t work like that so we are working to grow in the best way possible. www.finestseven.com CN
“Boring is over” The three Danish friends who set up an eyewear brand in the late 1990s in the design capital Copenhagen continue to expand their titanium success story with the support of optical retailers worldwide. Henrik Ørgreen, CEO and Founder and Tobias Wandrup, the creative force behind the brand, met us at the busy Ørgreen store in Copenhagen earlier this year for an update on where the Danish independent eyewear business sees itself today. Photo above: Henrik Ørgreen, Tobias Wandrup and Gregers Fastrup.
“We started with sunglasses. I remember meeting Tobias in the park and planning to set up the first ever sunglass brand to come out of Scandinavia. And then we approached Gregers and there it was. Our first product came out in 1999.”
“The eyewear market has become competitive, complex and more serious. It is to our advantage that we entered the market as a new independent brand over 15 years ago – there were only probably around 5 or 10 brands then that were actually emerging. We have our established design, production and logistics, and customer services and that ensures we can just keep moving forward to produce the best titanium designs in the world….” Henrik Ørgreen
By 2001, the brand moved production to Japan, and with that came the interest in titanium. “At that time we were working in acetate, few people know that! We were really focused on good quality. Today, it’s the same. We have an even higher level of quality and detailing, but that has come because we are more experienced. What we also learnt today is that sometimes you do have to compromise to have the best functionality or the best quality – back then there was no compromise – our first frames were described by our Austrian factory at the time as the most complicated they had ever tried to make.”
Asked to describe the proudest moments so far, Henrik refers to an Ørgreen “classic” with open temple featuring two hinges per temple. He says the concept soon became reproduced by other companies, but the impact of being the innovator of this design ensured that they found their place on the map in terms of innovation and new ideas. “The second turning point was when we did sheet titanium in two-tone colour – where we had two different colours on the inside and outside of the frame. This was an inspired concept that came from looking at car details. We found it was exciting to do really strong colours on the inside, making the frame wearable without being overpowering. We worked closely with our Japanese producers on this; they put in a lot of technical know-how to make this work.” Today the two-tone effects remain a part of the brand’s image.
And the direction in 2016? “We are working with around 15 factories in Japan, each one with their own expertise. But we still have the original guy with us who worked on the innovations I’ve mentioned. We are all really proud about that.” Overall the label continues to respect its roots and its open-minded Danish mentality where simplicity of design is one of the essentials.
“Copenhagen is full of interesting people. We get inspired by people from all around the world who come here and this is important to us and a part of what we have created and continue to use as inspiration. It’s our lifestyle.”
As Silhouette Eyewear launches distinctive, cutting-edge design brand neubau, Eyestylist asked Daniel Liktor, Head of Brand, to explain the origins and to give his own input about the new collections available in stores in June (optical collection) and in the Autumn 2016 (sunglasses).
“My professional background is rooted in strong brands; Mercedes-Benz/smart, Puma and Red Bull; my positions were linked to brand, product, sales and licensing,” explains Daniel, who says his arrival at Silhouette is a special journey. “We have a clear and outspoken vision for neubau. We want to become a benchmark within the field, with an independent lifestyle eyewear brand for trend-oriented, quality-driven consumers.” Above: Daniel Liktor, Head of Brand, neubau eyewear
Since his arrival at Silhouette, Liktor has become aware of how discerning the modern urban audience is today. “For them, eyewear is more of a lifestyle accessory than a medical aid – they want to express their personality through their style, and they see eyewear as part of their selected outfit. The product quality and fit for everyday comfort is important and has to be spot on. A definite plus is a unique, genuine and interesting brand story.”
neubau frames are made from lightweight polymer, a custom stainless steel or a mix of both. Both materials produce very light designs with a high level of comfort. For the optician, they are easy to glaze, easy to adjust. The colour concept is based on a trend-inspired assortment of colours including new ones like copper.
“The copper is a good example of what we’re offering,” explains Daniel. “It’s a buzzing trend in interior design but it’s unexplored in eyewear. We always cross-check with what other industries are doing, especially fashion, interior design and other lifestyle industries.”
Silhouette’s Austrian heritage gives a significant reference point and mark of quality. “We produce all our frames in Austria. Being part of Silhouette International, we are proud of our background. This is one of the reasons why the brand is named after a district in the Austrian capital.”
Liktor also refers to other districts when explaining the neubau concept, and references his own love of travelling. “There are so many (places) out there! I’ve been travelling a lot in my past and these districts have always been a focus. Almost every big city has a place like Neubau with a special energy…Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte in Berlin, Brera and Tortona in Milan, Shoreditch and Hackney in London, the Meatpacking district, Manhattan and Williamsburgs/Brooklyn, NYC. This is how we got inspired.”
With her exceptional ‘eye’ for fashion and eyewear, in nineteen seventy-five, Annette Hoffman opened her boutique in the picturesque area of Montmartre in Paris. At that time, the concept of independent eyewear labels was relatively unknown, and Mme Hoffman was one of the first to support budding designers. Forty years on, independent brands have brought innovation, beauty and amazing designs to eyewear, and Les Créateurs d’Opta continues with their presentation of international independent eyewear creators.
Celebrations were held recently, and the dynamic Mme Hoffman has taken a step back from the business, and Erik Sudre (both seen above) is now CEO and Opta partner. Sudre commented: “The party was very happy and full of emotion. The theo team attended, including Wim Somers; Pascal Jaulent from Face à Face; Susanne Klemm and Etienne Fredriks from Suzy Glam; and Caroline Abram among others were also with us.”
Time – and success – has certainly validated Annette Hoffman’s concept for individualist eyewear that continues to grow and flourish, and the charming boutique remains an oasis for the best in independent brands. www.opta-createurs.netJG
At a particularly beautiful wedding reception in the heart of Provence in France, sitting across from me was a lovely, chic woman wearing superbly crafted and luxurious refined jewellery. I commented on her necklace, and she replied: “Thank you – I designed this necklace.” Consequently, I was fortunate to meet Parisian jewellery designer Catherine von Specht (above) of Umbellina, who creates original one-of-a-kind necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings.
The pure simplicity, united with premium quality materials – exquisite jewels and fine gold – highlight the stunning designs. She discovered her passion for jewellery and gold, and created her first designs in Hamburg. Having lived in France, England, and Germany, plus travelling globally with her German husband, von Specht’s perspective and intuition reflects serenity and harmony in her jewellery.
Perfect balance in the lines and symmetry of her creations, further enhance her elegant expressions. Certain designs have little messages engraved on the metal or medallions. The result is always unique and personal. Umbellina creations are sold in select shops in Paris, Munich, Miami and Los Angeles. Von Specht also works with perspective clients so they can select their own metal and stones, achieving the jewellery design of their dreams. www.umbellina.comJG
Bas and Mirjam van Hensbergen – brother and sister – are the inspiring design duo behind the children’s collection Red Optical. “We work together, and we are good friends,” exclaims Mirjam. The Netherlands based team has been making fun, safe and fine quality designs for youngsters since 2008. “Red Optical Kids Eyewear was created because Bas and I sensed a lack of fashionable eyewear for kids at that time,” says Mirjam, “and we started designing and producing children’s frames purely by making what we like to see on kid’s faces.”
Bas adds: “Number One rule when designing frames in general is that fitting and measurements must be perfect. Next to that, we pay a lot of attention to the designs and colours for kids, and the quality of the materials. We use Mazzuchelli acetate in our frames. When you design children’s eyewear, you also have to remember kids can be rough, and will handle the frame with less care. So some designs are not that suitable for kids, like a nylor or rimless frame.”
Another important aspect of children’s eyewear is fashion and colour. “Nowadays, eyewear for kids is fashionable, and it is easier for parents to get their child to wear frames,” says Mirjam, “and children tend to go for bright, happy colours, like red, blue and pink. We also have basic colours in our collection – black, grey, Havana and Tortoiseshell. There is a tendency for those more mature colours, and we hear from opticians that parents like the ‘mature’ colours the most. Red Optical Kids Eyewear is sold globally, and we are delighted to have a very good and steady international business.” www.redoptical.com JG
Innovative design and a zest for adventure has always been the trademark of theo eyewear in Belgium. So when the opportunity arose for theo to collaborate with leading French interior designer Matali Crasset – the first time the Belgium brand has worked with a designer from another country – theo was quickly convinced that Matali was the perfect partner. The eyewear collection – Wide Open – is a creative symbiosis between contemporary, bold design, and a passion for colour.
“I love working with interiors and space,” says Crasset, “and this idea of ‘wide open’ means being wide open to life. I like people who are curious, and curious about others. Creating glasses is more complex than interiors – however, there is the symbolic aspect to be personally comfortable.”
Wide Open includes twelve designs – eight optical glasses and four sunglasses in metal and acetate. Each model is named after a character trait: Rebelle (rebellious) Sensible (sensitive) Expressif (expressive) plus other traits. The daring shapes are available in approximately forty-six different colour combinations. Wide Open by theo+Matali Crasset is an eyewear collection that embodies creativity, comfort, form and colour – plus a reminder of how glasses contribute to the formation of one’s own personal identity. www.theo.bewww.matalicrasset.comJG
Mehran Baghaie in Vancouver Canada weaves tradition, art and history into his frame creations. Ideas and inspiration are inexorably linked with his Persian ancestry, and then beautifully balanced with trends of today’s style and technical directions. Baghaie and his wife Anisa are both opticians, and managed several shops in Vancouver, where they have lived since 1984.
However, as Baghaie explains, “I wanted to design something of my own, and my first SILMO was in 1999, and there were only a few independents. Now there are many more people gravitating towards micro brands, and people are looking for brands that cater to independent opticians.
“Materials that are personally fascinating to me include wood – which I started to use in 2004. I’m a real history buff, and I’m very fond of Native Arts, including Homa, a mystic bird from Persia, and a lion from the 17th Century. Also, I love gothic, and vintage cat-eyes have a special place in my heart, and a cat-eye is an uplift for the face.” Baghaie has a unique collection – Pussy Galore – devoted only to sleek cat-eye shapes in ravishing colours. Another favourite Baghaie material is stainless steel. His latest collection in the German crafted material is distinctly angular, with modern, clean design that brings a chic mystique to each style. Colours are contrasted with multi-layering, which results in rich intonations. Baghaie has added a special touch with a message included inside one temple. One phrase is ‘Oneness of Mankind’, and Baghaie reveals:”I was always moved by these words, and I wanted to share them by bringing hope of peace on earth.
“I like to create frames that I can relate to in my collections, which means carving beautiful fashion that recycles itself. My influences change by my surroundings and by world events.” Spectacle Eyeworks is sold throughout Europe, America and Canada. For more information on the collection, visit www.spec-eyeworks.comJG
The charming Italian medieval village of Castiglione Olona is the home location for Mazzucchelli – the internationally acclaimed producers of acetate. Product Development Manager Elena Orsi Mazzucchelli has graciously shared the amazing history of this remarkable brand with Eyestylist.
Could you please give the history of Mazzucchelli? “Born as a tiny factory, established in 1849 for the production of combs and buttons made from animal horn, bone and tortoiseshell, Mazzucchelli is now the worldwide leader in the production and distribution of the plastic material traditionally used for the production of optical frames: Cellulose Acetate. The company, still owned by the Mazzucchelli family, has been operating for the last 165 years through 6 generations. Now, the last two generations are directly involved in the company, always focused on carrying out the traditional of this exceptional example of Italian excellence. Throughout the years, Mazzucchelli 1849 has been active in several industrial fields and is now performing as the parent company of the most important industrial conglomeration worldwide, which supplies semi-finished products for the optical market (acetate sheets and granules, metal components and sunglass lenses). Massucchelli’s products are aimed at markets ranging from spectacles, sunglasses and fashion accessories, to interior decoration and design objects, where quality and aesthetical values are greatly appreciated. The products with technical qualities are valued by safety, sports and automotive industries.”
Mazzucchelli has successfully survived major upheavals including two World Wars, and economic transitions. How has this been realised or accomplished? “Over three centuries entrepreneurial spirit, intuition, vision have enabled Mazzucchelli to take a global view of the countless new challenges of the market, and to converse with the fashion world, which demands a particular sensibility to aesthetical and innovative features.
“Quality, creativity, and innovation have always been Mazzucchelli’s core values and advantages over its competitors. Over the years, Mazzucchelli has always shown a great capacity for innovation and this has enabled the company to face successfully all the major upheavals, including the two World Wars and economic transitions. After the First World War, with great insight, Mazzucchelli decided to produce on an industrial scale the first thermoplastic material, celluloid, and celluloid still remains a vivid product in collective imagination. Another reason for the success of Mazzucchelli was the elaboration of a new product: cellulose acetate, a polymer of plant origin. The research laboratories developed this product which has the same characteristics of celluloid, but it is safer because it is flame-proof. Even when the standards of beauty evolved towards a ‘modern’ concept of design (since the 60’s), Mazzucchelli, thanks to its traditional vocation to be a pioneer, readily caught these new values participating actively in the new trend, and working with major companies such as Kartell and Campari in the production of articles which had become cult objects. Starting from the 70’s, the eyewear world has been highly influenced by design. Emerging Italian fashion designers, such as Armani, Valentino and Missoni gave a strong acceleration to the evolution of taste and distinguished themselves in the global fashion environment with the concept of Made in Italy. Mazzucchelli did not remain indifferent to such a huge phenomenon and conveyed the new standards to its product.”
What do you think is the most important development or improvement in the eyewear industry in the past fifty years? “Over the past fifty years, the biggest evolution in the eyewear industry has been the metamorphosis of the optical frame into a fashion accessory, a trendy item. Once the prosthesis function was lost, the optical frame became the answer – in the colours and designs to the specific taste of the moment. this was a real revolution, and since fashion entered the world of eyeglasses nothing has ever been the same. Mazzucchelli started to collaborate with leading fashion brands, and created a research center dedicated to the study of trends, and to all the socio-cultural factors capable of influence on the current taste. This research center, the historic ‘Centre O” is still operating and has become the undisputed benchmark in the world of eyewear.”
Mazzucchelli creates thousands of different colours every year – what general research methods do you incorporate in this massive project? “Product development has always been guaranteed by the Italian ‘Centre O’ based in Castiglione Olona. This research center works closely with brands, designers and customers from all over the world, offering a wide range of products and design consultancy. Every year this activity creates 40 collections inspired by different stylistic tendencies.The creative source for inspiration comes from fashion trends, design trends, from the suggestions collected travelling, from visits to fairs, art exhibitions, as well as from the stimulating conversations with customers, designers or artists. Besides the collections, Mazzucchelli annually develops about 6,000 new colours, unique products specifically manufactured for individual customers, developed to satisfy the need for customization, nowadays increasingly demanded by the market.”
What three colours are enduring favourites with designers? “The colour selection for optical frames includes: a tortoiseshell that, according to the prevailing fashion of the moment, could be a bleeding or a streaky tortoiseshell, or a spotted one. Black as a basic colour, and a unique colour and pattern combination which personalizes the selection.”
What are Mazzucchelli’s insights or perceptions for the future of eyewear? “Trends remain the guiding principles over the years, but as we have seen, a new requirement has become more assertive, that of personalization. We also feel that the quality and attention paid to detail will gain more significance each day, along with the need to accompany each product with its history, in order to convey its value and its DNA to the market. Eyeglasses will be more and more an object of cult used to reinforce the concept of brand identity. They will also become a new post-modern communicational tool, used to express one’s personality and to feel at ease in specific contexts.”
Creating Mazzucchelli acetate requires specialized skills. Nowadays, are young people interested in this unique and challenging career? “Every day we perceive an increasing interest in knowing more about the material used for production, because it’s only by being aware of its origin, of its history and of its components that we can be sure it is suitable to meet specific needs. Mazzucchelli manufacturers a wide range of products from classical to trendy and avant-garde. In particular, it’s the sheet produced following the Block process which represents a great attraction for stylists and designers, because the block, being made up of many and always different elements, can create inimitable effects allowing release of boundless and free creativity. This creativity can find expression thanks to the aesthetic sensibility of the workers in the laboratory, whose specialized skills are the outcome of a school, and a long cultural tradition and craftsmanship handed down from generation to generation. Yes, Mazzucchelli receives many requests from people who would like to take part in this creative process: this induces us to continue our work with great enthusiasm.” www.mazzucchelli.comJG