Creative spirits

Vogue Business: Jess Lawrence, social manager

Jess Lawrence (@jessylaw) has reached a place that many fashion-orientated young people can only dream of: influencer, businesswoman, model and style icon – she is also famously known for her infinite curated collection of sneakers. Jess graduated from university with a BA in English Language and Literature. From there she went to Expedia where she first worked officially with, and fostered her talents in social media – but her ambition, hunger and passion for a career in the fashion industry was not satisfied. She moved to a position at U-Magazine, went from success to success in different aspects of her career, and then secured her current position as the social media manager of Vogue Business. Eyestylist met with Jess – albeit virtually – and her creative and warm personality easily radiated through the screen, as did her immaculate unique sense of fashion.

What have been your biggest personal and professional challenges throughout the pandemic? Do you think the past year has had an impact on the fashion industry as a whole? If so, what impact? From a work perspective and a personal perspective, I’m a really in-person kind of person. I really respond to the environment I’m in; energy, movement and things like that are so important – especially in an industry like fashion, that is so vibrant in nature. I think it’s difficult for us to have such an integral part of our professional atmosphere taken away; fashion week, events, presentations, photoshoots – they’re all the reasons we want to get into fashion, most of our inspiration is taken from real people doing real things – when that’s gone, what are we left with? Everything is online, you have to see the world through a screen; the environment created is one that doesn’t really promote inspiration. However, although there has been a significantly negative impact, the positive progression regarding sustainability within the industry is immeasurable. In terms of technology capabilities like VR and AR which have really evolved, and also I think we have learned what works and what doesn’t – we have seen that though it is possible to make fashion week virtual, attendance is really low and there just isn’t an appetite for it – people crave the real time, lived experience and are eager to get back to that. One thing I am sure of is that when we do come back into the real world, we’ll take a lot of these learnings from this time with us, and in applying them we will create a better industry as a whole.

lafont
OGI Eyewear
MOREL par Jean Nouvel
Jess Lawrence: social manager, Vogue Business

The ‘sustainability’ buzz words are everywhere at the moment – without making this a leading question – I personally do try and be as sustainable as I can be and would consider myself pretty passionate about sustainability, but, in the nature of the industry we both work in – that can be hard. What does sustainability mean to you? What do you do if anything in order to “consume consciously” / be sustainable? I think everyone is at home, plugged in and really focused on what is going on outside their windows; now more than ever people are wanting to improve the world we live in, so that when we can go back out there it’s ready to greet us with open arms. Highlighting the problems and inconsistencies within the industry regarding sustainability is necessary and I welcome it – it’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind, designers, manufacturers and consumers are taking it into account more than ever before. One of the main things I have done myself to ‘consume consciously’ is eliminating any / all fast-fashion from my purchasing totally. I think that really happened when I joined Vogue Business – it’s like a switch flipped; once you know how bad it is, you can’t really go back to it. The biggest obstacle we face in this area is how to reduce the price-point of sustainably made clothing; we need to make it more widely accessible to more people – apps like Depop and eBay are an amazing resource for this reason, but if we want sustainable fashion to replace fast-fashion, it needs to be able to compete with it at that price point where younger consumers can engage with it. I can see many exciting changes happening in the next months and years to come. (more…)

LAPIMA, Brazil: Gisela and Gustavo Assis

Imagine the beautiful concept of an eyewear brand born in the hills of the Brazilian countryside, founded by an architect and a ballet dancer – the result is indeed as dreamlike as it sounds. Gisela and Gustavo Assis – the founders of LAPIMA, met at a very young age and rekindled their connection later in life resulting in the creation of a beautiful family, and an ethereal collection of high-quality, handcrafted artisan frames.

I understand that Gisela had trained towards a career as a classical ballet dancer for years and Gustavo also hoped to become an architect – tell us a little about the journey these incredibly diverse careers took to get you both crossing paths with each other, and eventually culminating in the creation of LAPIMA…It’s funny, since we were both little we had an appreciation for art and beauty. When we met, I had just quit dancing and Gustavo had just gotten into university studying business – not architecture – so, we were both quite frustrated. However, together we managed to deal with it and found other artistic forms to nurture our creativity such as going to art museums, visiting theatres, attending performances and movies together. Slowly, we discovered we had a lot more in common, and the results of that discovery have been our three children, as well as our fourth child: LAPIMA.

Sasha X Amber by LAPIMA – described as a shape that is “courageous and empowered”

Would either of you say that your experiences and inspirations that may have been derived from two such creative industries – as dance and architecture have been reflected in the branding of LAPIMA, or in LAPIMA frames in any way?

Absolutely! Movement is a huge inspiration in the creation of our frames; a model that does not move is hard for us to photograph, because the surfaces of glasses don’t reflect light fluidly, so without movement – the images would never get Gustavo’s approval. We love creating geometric images, using colorful sets and frames, playing classical music, bossa nova and rock and roll. We are never silent or still.

A huge part of your own individual identities as well as the LAPIMA brand identity is Brazilian culture and pride in Brazil’s vast, beautiful landscapes – what was process like in setting up your own production site in your home country?

We love our country, and we chose to be here and to raise our kids here, so to build a business in our hometown was a very natural process for us. Campinas was once an eyewear hub for many decades – prior to Brazil opening our economy to the world – and there are a lot of experienced artisans in the city. We managed to find them, learn from them, share our dream with them and build LAPIMA together. It is a great feeling to know we are also preserving the craftsmanship of our town and developing our own community by providing jobs in the process. LAPIMA’S office and atelier are in the same building and only ten minutes away from where we live. This allows us to bring our kids to school, have lunch with them, be at home for dinner and still be in the office in the morning and afternoon – that is quite a privilege, especially these days.

In a 2019 article W Magazine described your lenses as the “new old Celine” – a complimentary comparison to make in the world of eyewear, what are your thoughts on this statement?

LINDBERG
Götti Switzerland
BLACKFIN

It was indeed a huge compliment; we are very honored and proud of the work we are doing. To be compared to such an admirable maison is not simple, and it brings huge responsibilities, but we are determined to keep being original, creative and avant-garde. Compliments like this motivate us, and move us forward.

Nina Forest Solid by LAPIMA: inspired by the raw patterns and grooves of the Atlantic Forest

LAPIMA outsources their product materials from Europe; German hinges, to French lenses and Italian acetate – this of course enables the quality of the products to be among the finest in Brazilian eyewear, however, considering the growing demand for self-sustaining businesses and sustainably sourced materials – would LAPIMA ever consider potentially insourcing from Brazil?

It would be amazing if we could find the same acetate, lenses and hinges of the same quality in our country – but unfortunately that is not the reality – in order to keep the high-end status of our products, we need the best materials. On the other hand, we handcraft each piece in our atelier from start to finish; the artisans who are employed by us can continue to use their own art form without being substituted by a machine, as in big factories. To stay sustainable, we make it a priority to not keep stock, in our attempts to do so we only produce in small batches of product to limit waste; we work on demand and only start production after an order has been received.

You have both succeeded in creating a beautiful brand that takes ‘vintage’ inspiration and combines it with elements of modernity, creating unique, timeless and artistic frames – does LAPIMA have any exciting plans to evolve or progress further in eyewear, or perhaps further into the fashion industry, in the near future?

Thank you for those compliments! We know LAPIMA still has a long path ahead in the eyewear and in the fashion market, but this doesn’t phase us; we have a lot to show the world. We are excited to have recently launched our optical collection as well as our new storefront in Brazil. Collaborations with fashion brands are certainly on LAPIMA’S radar…

For more information about the new LAPIMA store visit:www.eyestylist.com/2020/12/lapima-shop-opens-in-brazil/ – visit LAPIMA’s website at www.lapima.com An exclusive Eyestylist interview by Victoria G. L. Brunton.

Kechi ‘The Eccentric Dandy’

Stylist, blogger and colourful fashion week street style setter, Kechi “The Eccentric Dandy” has a unique point of view on all things fashion. His eclectic style and bold dressing is exciting and rule-breaking and infectious to all. Having met at Paris Fashion Week in 2019, Victoria Brunton reconnected with him online in this interview for our menswear series on accessories and style.

Has your way of dressing always been received positively outside of our industry and have you always had such a strong confidence in your style, as you portray? I don’t think anyone is confident immediately; for me personally, it was a process of growing my confidence. I grew up in a small mid-western college town where much of dressing was about being ‘cool’, which ultimately served a culture of conformity. It wasn’t until the last couple of years leading to my jump to New York that I really began to play with my style. Cultivating my personal aesthetic took work— and lots of it – and while it was fun to do, dressing differently wasn’t always easy; one often encounters resistance when fighting against the grain, and that’s okay. More importantly the benefits to dressing, and in doing so being true to yourself and having others respond well to that, far overrides any criticism. To put it simply; if someone has something negative to say about me, or about how I dress that’s a reflection on them – not me.  Above: photo by @scander9

Paris Fashion Week (2019)

What do you look for when selecting a frame? Perhaps you could tell us about your favorite pair of glasses in your collection… I adore eyewear because it is such an easy way to transform your look! As far as choosing frames; I look for how they suit my face and their overall suitability. I really enjoy different kinds of lens tints because there is so much choice; two-tone, a rose tint, a full black out lens or a nice hunter yellow — the options are endless! Different styles of frame definitely speak to different eras and moods; right now, my favorite frame is a pair of brown-tinted Tom Ford aviators – they go with everything. I do love my extremes in eyewear, but nothing beats a good classic pair of shades you can grab on your way out of the door.

LINDBERG
lafont

When planning an outfit, what role do accessories play for you? Accessories aren’t any more or any less important than any other piece of clothing I wear; you can have great accessories and still be poorly dressed, in my opinion. So, having that balance between all of your pieces is essential. Sometimes your clothes are doing the talking while your accessories take the back seat – and vice versa, and if you really wanna party, everything; your clothes, accessories and hair are all talking at once – AKA me at every fashion week.

“For the love of prints” – photo by @rvrdwn

Is there a growing demand for more choice in the male accessories market? Do you often find yourself having to seek out an accessory categorized as “woman’s”, simply because it is not provided for in “men’s”? Looking at guys on the street there is certainly a growing demand for men’s and gender non-specific accessories. The fact that men are finding new ways to wear old accessories speaks to this; a recent example being men wearing fanny packs slung around the torso as a pseudo-purse VS the traditional way of wearing it around the waist. This has expanded to the more daring men wearing actual handbags and purses that are generally geared towards women. I remember seeing one of the members of the rap trio Migos rocking a Goyard purse; the hyper-masculinity generally associated with rap music and culture combined with the feminine connotations of a designer purse made this really stand out to me. Times are changing, in recent seasons some big brands are responding to this need; Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Fendi are offering styles of accessories that are much more gender neutral in their utility and how they’re marketed. This can be seen further when you are really, as the kids say – ‘in your bag’ (pun intended) – the designated gender for that particular item shouldn’t matter; it’s just fabric at the end of the day, and if it speaks to you, it speaks to you. As they say; ‘if the shoe fits, wear it’ – I find this to be particularly true for all accessories; bags, eyewear— you name it. (more…)

Frame Chain’s co-founders

FRAME CHAIN – The pain of misplacing your favourite pair of glasses is something we can all relate to, Annie and Vanessa – the founders of FRAME CHAIN, are no different. It was after losing countless pairs of designer sunglasses that the epiphany of FRAME CHAIN came to light; not only an efficient and aesthetic solution to an everyday problem, but one that doubles as a high-quality piece of glamorous jewellery. This brand has given a resurgence to the glasses chain I once knew to be a “grandma staple” – now spotted on catwalks from Gucci to Chanel, and available across luxury department stores and retail outlets worldwide. 

I would love to know a little bit about the founders of FRAME CHAIN, could you tell us a little about how you two came together? Annie: My path wasn’t really linear, I was obsessed with the entertainment industry for most of my life – a failed professional singer/dancer, so, I headed into marketing in the music and film industry. That was in-spite of studying biology, chemistry and maths beforehand – I wanted to be a surgeon at one point and a lawyer at another. It was my marketing degree that really kept me interested, though. I met Vanessa when I was working temporarily at Oasis – I had fallen up an escalator with a tray of cupcakes, and she was the designated first aid / Visual Merchandising extraordinaire. I consulted in a number of jobs – always in industries facing huge change; I was at Nokia and Microsoft before going to LOEWE. I have almost always had another job as well as FRAME CHAIN, topping up with consulting gigs along the way.

Vanessa: I started off by studying textiles at Loughborough University, as part of my degree I decided to do a year in industry working for a print fashion studio in London – here, I fell in-love with fashion and interior design. After I graduated I dabbled in different areas in the industry, which enabled me to set up my own business in interior styling. I met Annie when I worked in Visual Merchandising and I thought “Oh my life who is this girl?” – the rest is history, she is the best business partner and friend in the world. Above: Vanessa (left) and Annie (right) of FRAME CHAIN, London outside a FRAME CHAIN event at Cutler & Gross

FRAME CHAIN: a solution for your mask

Why do you think glasses chains, which are obviously a necessity to many of us, disappeared in the first place? We always say they didn’t really disappear – they just became less popular – along with trends like MC hammer pants, mullets, stone wash denim, smiley T’s or kick flares. Then, like all good things – they come back eventually; with the help of some tireless plugging, a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work.

Until recent years glasses chains were seen as something only grandmothers wore – my grandma wore fabulous gold chain ones and some with tiny freshwater pearls – I would kill for them now; what do you think enabled the resurgence of glasses chains as a popular ‘trendy’ accessory?  We love this question – go Grandma! There are all kinds of theories about how trends start, and now there is social media to add to the mix; how many people carry a smartphone in their pocket? That brings with it an inevitable shift of behaviour and constant communication, plus there is also a complete democratisation of retail with ecommerce. Before things like Shopify or Instagram we had to solely rely on the taste levels of buyers to add products to a store – so the momentum was strained – now people can build a ‘direct to consumer’ brand in a matter of weeks. We were lucky that the independent eyewear business seemed to kick off around the same time we got started; people generally wanted to consume differently and independent eyewear brands became a much more visible thing. We found people who understood what we were doing and began to grow day by day, chain by chain, customer by customer…we restricted access and focused on fashion accounts. I think we really hit momentum when Browns and Matchesfashion approached us, then, about 2 years ago – Gucci, Chanel, and Berluti were just a few of the brands beginning to push glasses chains down the runway. Brands like those highly validate a trend indeed, now everyone – Gentle Monster, Kaleos and Linda Farrow are echoing what we have created.

FRAME CHAIN: A solution for your eyewear

One thing I find particularly interesting with FRAME CHAIN is the ability to use the glasses chain as jewellery; are the chains utilised more as jewellery or as chains? Annie: Our concept was to create a chain that could double as jewellery with 100% true equal use. Vanessa was a jewellery designer and really insisted on this feature as she didn’t wear glasses, even now she rarely even wears them; she really saw it as something else. I wanted something practical that looked good – Vanessa gave it a beautiful spin and a big point of difference from the very beginning. Judging from what we see on social and in the street, it’s probably 50/50 in terms of how our chains are worn.

The new VINTAGE DISCO collection is fabulous – it seems to encapsulate everything the young people are craving across the world right now; dancing, glamour, getting dolled up and having a good time. Was the inspiration for this collection ignited pre or post pandemic? Also, if you could dress as though you were from only one era of style, what would it be and why? Annie: I love this question. Without fail, it would be the 70’s for me; disco, denim, glam, slogan t-shirts, platforms, sequins, sexy, casual, feminine, suits – oh god I could go on! The inspiration was pre-pandemic, we plan our collections about a year in advance. The original idea was to wear these on a dance floor, so now that isn’t possible, it’s become more about having a little slice of that ‘disco’ mood even if the ‘disco’ itself is absent – a reason to celebrate.

BLACKFIN
lafont
OGI Eyewear

Vanessa: Oh how exciting, I like this game; for me, my favourite era style-wise would be the 1920’s – I love the embellishment and pure decadence.

A solution for your mobile phone: new at FRAME CHAIN this season, MAXSIE and MINI phone chains

In light of the pandemic, the trend of face masks has erupted globally, has FRAME CHAIN joined in with this evolving fashion niche? Well of course – we are in it! We started showing masks on chains almost from the very beginning; all of our chains can be used as a mask chain. We also give reusable masks away for free with every purchase on the web – we are cooking up some other plans, but we can tell you about them later.

What accessories, other than FRAME CHAINS of course, can’t you leave the house without? Annie: I am generally wearing at least two FRAME CHAINS – one for reading glasses, one for sunnies and probably one or two as necklaces. I always wear my diamond ring that was a gift from my parents for my 21st, Manolo Blahnik heels, a LOEWE or Bottega Venetta Handbag and a spritz of BYREDO fragrance. Vanessa: I can’t leave the house without my rings that I have collected over the years, most as gifts from my parents, and at the moment – my mask, of course – with my FRAME CHAIN attached to it!

FRAME CHAIN has become such a well established brand – appearing in most of the major department stores across the UK, as well as across Europe and beyond; what can we expect next? Thank you for saying this – we still feel like we are building and growing – yet there is still so much to do. We do have more exciting new products in the pipeline for next year. We will let you know when we are ready to share!

FRAME CHAIN is a brand founded by two brilliantly diverse and creative women, and their innovative, stylish product range is a testament to them; with such a rapidly evolving brand, on the forefront of a trend that seems to be emerging more prominently in the catalogues of every major brand – I can’t wait to see what comes next for Vanessa, Annie and of course – FRAME CHAIN. Shop the FRAME CHAIN styles online at www.framechain.co.uk  Interview by Victoria G. L. Brunton exclusively for Eyestylist.com

Sustainable creator: Cristiano Ferilli

Cristiano Ferilli is a qualified ophthalmologist by day and a designer by night. If that alone doesn’t strike you as an accomplishment, Cristiano founded Ferilli Eyewear; the first eyewear brand to use cactus fibre – Sikalindi – in the manufacture of their Italian-made frames.

Cristiano, you speak of falling in love with the world of eyewear at the age of sixteen – forgive me if this is a backwards notion, but it’s perhaps quite an unusual attraction for a young boy to develop at such an age – how did this passion first ignite? When you’re a 16-year-old boy, I believe that you normally have a secret wish in life – it’s up to you to truly believe in that wish and make it come true. I think what pushed me back then was attending the Mido 2010 trade show and seeing so many sunglasses made with different kinds of materials. I said to myself then that when I was older, I would discover my own material to create my sunglasses.

Would you be able to tell us a little about your career path, did you always envision yourself working within the fashion industry? No, not at all. After getting an optician’s diploma at high school, I graduated with a degree in Orthoptic and Ophthalmologic Assistance, continuing that career path in clinics and hospitals. However, right after university I made my first sunglasses collection; I believed in it so passionately that Ferilli Eyewear has become my job today. While I’m busy with work as an orthoptist in a clinic, I’m also committed to creative projects as a designer for my brand.

Ferilli Eyewear: a sustainable collection using prickly pear fibre

How is it that your brand Ferilli goes beyond the concept of ‘just an accessory’? Prickly pear fibre creates a very particular pattern on every frame. I like to think that they are not just sunglasses, but they can be considered a fully-fledged design element that add a unique touch to a look, and that they are a distinctive feature that help define the wearer’s personality. Moreover, I care about the functionality of my sunglasses, not only about their design, and this applies also to the choice of lens.

Being the only brand of eyewear that uses Sikalindi is an amazing claim to be able to make, especially in an industry where the consumer is growing more aware of the impact of their purchases, and many brands are trying to find the newest, most innovative way to forge a sustainable future – tell us a bit more about producing frames with Sikalindi? In the region where I live – Puglia, in southern Italy – prickly pears are fast-growing plants, and sometimes there are so many of them that entire areas need to be cut down and thinned out. To obtain the fibre itself, we dehydrate the leaves of the plants through various physical processes – but without using chemical agents or pollutants. In this way we can extract the material we need, while respecting the environment and the natural cycle of the plant.

OGI Eyewear
BLACKFIN
MOREL par Jean Nouvel
Ferilli Eyewear: the frames display the patterns of the natural fibre

I assume you subscribe to the idea that the consumer needs to  ‘buy smart’ and ‘buy less’ in order for our planet and resources to survive? Why should the consumer invest in a pair of Ferilli sunglasses, in your opinion? Our products guarantee functionality from a technical point of view and they are made with a unique, sustainable material. Our aim is to be creative and innovative producing naturally beautiful sunglasses that respect the environment.

Finally, your website says that you hope to develop some new ‘sparkling ideas’ in the future – is there anything on the horizon? I can tell you that the prickly pear fibre will be incorporated into other materials, and we are meticulously studying new models that will amaze you!

To find out more about Ferilli visit www.ferillieyewear.com. Interview by Victoria G. L. Brunton exclusively for Eyestylist.com