Creative spirits

Lunettes Alf: Alexis and Germain Bouchara

Lunettes Alf or ‘Atelier de Lunetterie Français’ to give their full title, is an emerging artisanal brand of high quality eyewear located in Paris, founded by two brothers – Alexis and Germain Bouchara. Alf stands out from the crowd as a timeless family owned brand, with a frame style that nods to former decades, and artisanal craftsmanship in the making of each frame, in respect of traditions passed down by generations. Eyestylist spoke to founders Alexis and Germain Bouchara (pictured above).

Did you always envision venturing into business together as brothers?  Alexis: My brother and I have always been very close and family spirit is very important to us. So, venturing into business together was not planned but it was not a surprise either; it just happened naturally.

Was eyewear something you both always felt drawn to? Tell us a little about your journey that led to the creation of Lunettes Alf? A: I have been working in this industry for almost 20 years now, and I am truly passionate about the product and its history. After my training with the “Meilleurs Ouvriers de France” (“Best Workers of France”) I instantly knew I wanted to introduce a brand into the market, to tell my story and to share the way I see ‘the perfect eyewear’. I believed in putting quality first as a tribute to the craftsmanship and noble materials used in creating our frames. As for my brother, he has been working in the fashion and accessories industry for over 20 years in both sales and marketing positions. When I shared my vision of the project, he was as enthusiastic as me and I saw that our dreams would match perfectly – that was the beginning of the journey, three years ago now.

Alf h19.03.006 – classical shapes, based on the distinctive, and most desirable classics of the past

The classic ‘panto frame’ is a recognisable crowd favourite among creators and consumers of eyewear alike; a quirky shape with a nod to twentieth century vintage style. Lunettes Alf includes a ‘panto frame’ in every collection – what are your thoughts on this design and why do you think you feel drawn to it as designers? A: Alf draws its inspiration from old glasses frames; the panto shape has marked the history of eyewear as an evolution of the original frame – the round one. This evolution has occurred in two areas; a lens shape offering wider fields of vision and the introduction of the pantoscopic angle to keep a constant lens-eye distance. This angle is generated by a high temple anchor point (this is different from the typical medium position anchor point on a round scope). These developments have increased the wearer’s comfort of vision. For all these reasons, it made perfect sense to have the panto shape as a principle part of our collection. Comfort, innovation and a nod to the origins of eyewear – all ideas that strongly resonate with us.

Who do you design your eyewear for and what do you believe separates your brand as well as your target consumer from the rest of those on and in the market? Germain: We create our eyewear for customers who care about quality materials and craftsmanship, those who cherish time and longevity, those who don’t want to over-consume and those who prefer to repair than replace. To meet these criteria we have chosen a combination of Japanese acetate and French manufacturing to create robust sunglasses with a timeless and chic design. Beyond the product, we are passionate about eyewear. We believe that being close to our customers, maintaining a sense of rigorous service at heart and delivering high end products are key points of differentiation.

LINDBERG
TVR advert 2021 linked to the TVR website
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MOREL par Jean Nouvel
Götti Switzerland
SILMO Paris Nord Villepinte 24 - 27 Sept 2021
VAVA Eyewear
Alf h19.01.001 – a classic round

What are your thoughts on sustainability within the eyewear industry or even within the fashion industry as a whole? Do you think your brand makes an effort to produce sustainably, and how do you do so? G: Over the past years eyewear has become a consumer accessory and often loses out to over-consumption. Some glasses are sold so cheaply that many consumers consider them as a disposable product. “I paid 30 euros for this pair of glasses, if I lose them or break them, I’ll buy another one”…. We too have consumed a lot in our lives; the countless clothes we purchase, wear a few times and end up giving away almost unused, for example. We find it absurd that we can still think like that in the times we now live in. Today, I feel that we buy much less, but better / this is why we are supporters of slow fashion. We care about sustainability in that sense. Of course, every day we are working on improving our impact with less packaging and bicycle deliveries when possible – for two examples. At ALF the best way we have found to make our glasses sustainable is to focus on three criteria: timeless design, the quality of materials and manufacturing. When we started developing our brand, our goal was to make our eyewear an object that would be passed on from generation to generation. That is still a goal we dream to achieve one day.

Alf e18.02.008 – technical innovations derived from the 1940s such as refined rivets on hinges

Was eyewear always the end goal for your creative vision, or do you have any plans to venture into other areas of the fashion industry? A: The day I came up with the idea of creating an eyewear brand, I thought I needed to surround myself with people to manage the distribution. The same evening, I called Germain to tell him my idea and I concluded by telling him: “I’ll make this brand with you or I won’t make it” – for the past three years we have been working together perfectly. We remain humble and try to build a consistent brand that will last over time, but it doesn’t exclude us from venturing into other areas such as collaborations with other fashion brands who share the same values as us. That being said, we are very excited to share with you very soon a collaboration with a fashion brand that we love – stay tuned for Summer 2022!

Where do you typically seek and source inspiration from in designing your collections? Has the pandemic impacted your motivation and creativity in any capacity? A: To me, eyewear inspiration can be found everywhere: old magazines, trade books, movies, family photos and of course nowadays social media and the internet. I try not to look too much, I don’t want to be inspired by my peers. The different confinements we have endured have provided us with the advantage of time, time to think, to invent, to be creative and to improve.

Can we expect anything exciting in the world of eyewear from Lunettes Alf in the near future at Silmo? G: As a young brand we will keep on developing our collection. We are excited to share not just two but three new models and two new colours in our upcoming September collection to complete our palette. Lunettes Alf are available worldwide in selected retailers including Kitschenberg (Munich), Frank Lo (Rome), Pour Vos Beaux Yeux (Paris) and Blick Brillen (Rotterdam).  https://lunettes-alf.com  An exclusive interview by Victoria G. L. Brunton for www.eyestylist.com

Morganne Leigh, Tyche + Iset, Los Angeles

Tyche + Iset is a Los Angeles based brand named after the Greek goddess of fate, fortune and luck and the Egyptian goddess of life, magic and wisdom. Brand founder Morganne Leigh is a talented creative with a passion for art and design as well as a strong connection with spirituality and adventure, inspiration which is apparent throughout the brand and in each pair of frames produced.

I understand you have trained as a painter and a graphic designer – were you always a creative person at heart?  Yes, I think I have been imaginative since I was a toddler. Then, I began traditional art classes when I was six years old, which was the foundation for my artistic exploration. My creative abilities have never been limited to one area of art or design.

Tyche + Iset is marketed towards ‘searchers, thinkers, stargazers …’ How would you illustrate the typical Tyche + Iset customer?  I have been so lucky to have met the majority of my customers in person! This has been a grassroots brand, and it has been awesome to get to know them. They come from all walks of life and are of all ages, they aren’t afraid of colorful styles, they love to stand out from the crowd, they’re funny and kind but most important of all – they enjoy life. Above: Morganne Leigh, founder of  Tyche + Iset Eyewear

Tyche + Iset – model wears Oceana

I have learned that the origin of Tyche was the name of a Greek Goddess and Iset was the name of an Egyptian Goddess… Where did you find the inspiration to delve into history and why did you choose the names of these specific ancient heroines? History is among my favorite subjects and I’ve always enjoyed mythological stories because they are filled with adventures and lessons about life.

I am not traditionally from the eyewear or – more broadly speaking – the fashion industry. When I first started the brand, I had no network to open doors, zero guidance and no financial help. I had no idea what I was doing, but I needed to find a way to survive and take care of myself. It was also a necessity for me to find success in something I was passionate about; so I turned to my love of art and design. Each of the Goddesses represents my willingness and determination to find my destiny using my own creativity – they guide me, in a sense. It is all about taking a risk and perhaps being rewarded by being prepared when opportunity arrives. Plus, a little luck along the way (or bad luck in the form of a lesson learned). I am always learning, even when the process is difficult. The origin stories and histories of each Goddess are linked to me in serendipitous and very personal manners, further strengthening my belief that they also chose me.

Colorful soft cases at Tyche + Iset – upcycled fabric – handmade in Los Angeles

Tyche + Iset encourages their wearers to ‘follow their cosmic intuition’ – where did you first find a connection with your own spirituality? We would love to hear a bit more about what following ‘cosmic intuition’ means to you, and to the brand as a whole… Throughout my whole life I have had spiritual experiences and received ‘messages’ through dreams as well as in the physical world. My intuitive and semi-psychic sensibilities are very strong. Our minds are magnets and we attract what we consistently think about. To me, following your cosmic intuition is allowing the Universe to connect with you, to guide you, and to teach you so that you can move forward through life in a positive manner. Internal journeys require patience and there will be difficulties. But, if you trust in the Universe, it will always take you to where you need to be to find your happiness.

TVR advert 2021 linked to the TVR website
OGI Eyewear
LINDBERG
SILMO Paris Nord Villepinte 24 - 27 Sept 2021

People are paying more attention to their zodiac signs than ever before. Having founded such a spiritually driven brand – what are your views on astrology?  I have been a fan of astrology (birth charts) and tarot since I was a teenager. I also believe in Numerology, which reflect our life cycle journeys and challenges. I often make decisions for the brand using tarot cards – I trust in the answers I receive!

What do you think makes Tyche + Iset designs unique? Our eyewear tells a vivid story through design, color, and details. As an artist, I create work in order to connect with someone and share my vision. My goal is to design products that people have an emotional connection to.

Tyche + Iset has just launched some gorgeous new sustainable packaging – how important is sustainability to you? What do you see for the future of fashion and sustainability?  Sustainability and environmental protection has been of lifelong importance to me. These goals are also within the brand and my plans for its future. We only produce products with integrity. We do not want to be a part of the problem.

Made in USA: the new packaging design at Tyche + Iset

There is a lot of “green-washing” within the fashion industry. Many brands also want fast, easy money for the cheapest investment. But, the price we pay is environmental damage with communities suffering. I hope that companies will become more responsible in how much they produce each year as well as their own carbon footprint. Slow-fashion and small-batch production is what the industry needs to focus on. For the past several years, I have been experimenting with recycled materials for new products or eyewear. I want to create things that people cherish and do not want to throw away. It is unfortunate that producing new plastics is much cheaper than cleaning and re-using excess waste that is destroying our world. Many recycling centers have closed down and manufacturers do not want to deal with the difficulty of using recycled materials. But, I will never give up hope on my ideas. I’d love to inspire more designers/brands to participate in innovative practices. Let’s find solutions to problems we all face. If more people ask for these things, we can be effective in modifying consumer culture into a more positive future.

Can we expect anything new and /or exciting that may be on the horizon for Tyche + Iset? Yes! We are working on our next collection and some exciting new projects. I am superstitious, so I’m not able to share too much information before launch. However, we are thankful to continue our creative energies in design and innovation. We appreciate those who support Tyche + Iset – we are a small brand with a big heart! Find our more about the brand at www.tycheandiset.com  Interview by Victoria G. L. Brunton for Eyestylist.com

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.

Götti Switzerland
ROLF Spectacles
LINDBERG
MOREL par Jean Nouvel
lafont
OGI Eyewear
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?

ROLF Spectacles
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Visit J.F.Rey
VAVA Eyewear

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.

Götti Switzerland
TVR advert 2021 linked to the TVR website
BLACKFIN
lafont
VAVA Eyewear
SILMO Paris Nord Villepinte 24 - 27 Sept 2021

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…)