Creative spirits

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.

SILMO Paris Nord Villepinte 24 - 27 Sept 2021
essedue sunglasses
lafont
TVR advert 2021 linked to the TVR website
ROLF Spectacles
BLACKFIN

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.

TVR advert 2021 linked to the TVR website
Visit J.F.Rey
BLACKFIN
ROLF Spectacles
MOREL par Jean Nouvel
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.

Hall of Frames Zurich Convention Center 12-13 September 2021
Carlotta's Village
BLACKFIN
MOREL par Jean Nouvel
OGI Eyewear
essedue sunglasses
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

 

Accidental Icon

“I started Accidental Icon because I was having trouble finding a fashion blog or magazine that offered an urban, modern, intellectual aesthetic but also spoke to women who live what I call “interesting but ordinary lives..” 

Lyn Slater – otherwise known by her Instagram and website handle Accidental Icon – is a true modern-day Renaissance Woman. A former social worker, an academic, a blogger, stylist and an influencer with a following of over seven hundred thousand on one hand whilst being a truly authentic, feminist and all-round strong woman on the other. Slater exudes all of the brilliance and indulgence of what we know to be ‘an influencer’ in this day and age, yet sheds all the negative connotations that are thought to be indistinguishable with the online segment of the fashion industry and social media. She concerns herself only with originality, intelligence, serendipity and self-empowerment, encouraging and inviting other women like her to “share the pleasures of everyday life and living” as she does.

When and how did you first develop an interest in fashion and how has that journey taken you to this point in your career? I really have not had an interest in fashion but more in the power of clothing to express identity. If you are following trends and concerned with “what’s fashionable” at any given time, you are conforming to what others think your identity should be, and I’m not about that. So, for me clothes are like an artistic tool that allows for creative expression – something that I’ve been doing all my life, even as a child. I was a social worker and academic until I started this project in 2014 – which was the first time I had anything to do with fashion as a system – from that point I just did what I usually do; wear clothing that tells stories about who I am, remember this is all about relationships, act as if you know nothing, ask many questions and be generous.

Accidental Icon: one of fashion’s most credible and finely dressed influencers

Your personal collection of eyewear and accessories is extensive as well as diverse – what particularly, if anything, draws you to choosing a piece to wear and / or to purchase? Something that is well-constructed, it is timeless, ageless and increasingly genderless. There is an element of craft involved. However, my style changes all the time depending on the context I’m living in at the moment, what is going on in my work and personal life and how I think I want to show my creativity to the world. There are times I want big and bold and others I may want something more subtle. I also choose from the inside out and what I want to say at the moment with my style. I’ve never followed norms about anything as they are usually set by those in power to control you. So, it’s really just me being me and expressing who that ‘me’ may be at any given time in my life.

Do you have any thoughts, both positive or negative, on social media and its impact on the society and the people of today? That would be a book – In simple terms it is one of those things that is both, by that I mean it has some productive and democratic uses and some negative uses and impacts. For example, if it were not for social media someone like me would never have gotten past the “gatekeepers” of fashion. It can also do things to your brain which are not productive and erodes critical thinking and analysis. Mainly people allow social media to be in charge of them and lead the way. Social media is a tool and you need to be in charge of how often you turn to it, why you are drawn to it (inspiration or distraction), how you use it to communicate and how you want to be impacted by it.

LINDBERG
MOREL par Jean Nouvel
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Accidental Icon: a fun, colorful and experimental style

I have noticed you mentioning your evolving love affair with a slow-paced lifestyle – in regard to slow living, what are your thoughts on slow-fashion and leading a less environmentally impactful lifestyle? Do you have any thoughts on sustainability within one’s own life?  This public health crisis has really been a wake-up call regarding economic inequality, and I add ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the political mess my country is in into that list. Fashion Revolution Week and my quarantine started at the same time and I followed all the talks and workshops in London rather than those in New York – there is a higher level of thinking and creativity in my opinion outside the United States. I really deepened my commitment to slow fashion and sustainability during this time especially because the way it was presented in London was all about how creative and exciting the clothing could be. I am really liking the idea of intersectional environmentalism, which simply stated is caring for people, the planet and yourself in everything you might buy, eat, consume (including social media). It’s a good way forward for me as a way to incorporate sustainability into my everyday life.

What advice would you give to your younger self in embarking on a career within the industry of fashion? For me this is a difficult question to answer because of the great importance of context – when I was young the world was dramatically different than it is now, so, my younger self could not make use of the advice I would give today. For young people today “a career in fashion” is a moving target in that it is constantly being impacted by huge forces like we have seen with the pandemic, economic and environmental challenges, technology, etc. What that means is that it is constantly being re-designed – every aspect of it, technology proficiency is a must. I’d tell them to ask themselves why they wanted to be in fashion to begin with, if it is to express yourself creatively, I would say be a generalist – learn and practice skills that enhance creativity across many platforms, not just fashion – choose some applicable skills you want to get really good at and study and practice them.

To join the hundreds of thousands already finding inspiration in Lyn Slater’s esteemed, curated, individual and experimental lifestyle head to https://www.accidentalicon.com/about/ An interview by Victoria Brunton exclusively for Eyestylist.com.

Ely Yili Cao: pearly jewellery eyewear

Gemmologist and award-winning jewellery & eyewear designer Ely Yili Cao is a graduate of the prestigious RCA in London. Her latest work is entitled Lunette de Diadème.

“My collection uses luxury as a perspective and high-end jewellery as a platform,” says Ely Cao. The designer, who has taken part and won the 100% Optical / RCA Eyewear design competition (in 2020 and previously) for a work featuring delicate pearl settings, has created her latest work – Lunette de Diadème – as a means of exploring how spectacles have infiltrated our lives beyond a medical device and symbol of impairment.

Working with a mix of materials such as rhodium plated silver alloy, fresh water and Tahiti pearls with bluetooth earphones, Cao has imagined and created a new personal concept in luxury glasses, incorporating high-tech, connected to artisan jewellery-techniques, with handmade settings and a genuine appreciation of traditional construction. Her attention to detail continues into innovative functional and aesthetic features – with highlights which include beautifully conceived moveable jewellery parts, interchangeable lenses, and a hugely appealing charging case.

OGI Eyewear
MOREL par Jean Nouvel
VAVA Eyewear
Carlotta's Village

About: Ely Yili Cao, a designer who specialises in jewellery, eyewear and accessories, an authorized gemmologist and appraiser, earned her BA (Hon) degree in Jewellery Design, at the Central Saint Martins’ College of Art and Design, finished gemmologic study from GIA with scholarship, and recently graduated from the Royal College of Art fashion programme, specialising in accessories and eyewear.
Her design and craft skills have been selected and awarded worldwide — by organizations including The Goldsmiths’ Centre, The Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council in the UK, Gemological Institute of America in the US, Barcelona Art Jewellery & Objects (JOYA) in Spain; and by commercial companies including The Leatherseller’s Company, Theo Fennell and William Morris London (100% Optical / RCA competition). For more information visit @ely.yili.cao (Instagram) and www.elycao.com