Creative spirits

Robert Marc

Inspiration from Palm Springs

Robert Marc has had his own brand since 1999 and is now a leading American eyewear designer with eight shops in New York and one in Boston. His designs are made by hand in France and Japan. No corners are cut when it comes to quality and detail. “As an independent designer, I do whatever it takes to get what I want for the frame and the brand, however painstaking or however long it takes to ensure the production is perfect.”

I have known Robert for a long time and I recently met with him at the Four Seasons in Milan to see the 2011 collection, which is inspired by the desert landscape and modernist architecture of Palm Springs. Robert explains, “On the occasions I have visited Palm Springs, I have always been struck by the linear architecture, the straight lines and surprising pops of colour; but also the nature around me, the plants, cacti and incredible smoke tree. It is an unusual place, with an energy that I wanted to evoke in this year’s collection.”

With a subtle approach to colour, Robert uses bright yet natural colour tones, as well as some of his favourite classics, including Havana and tortoise.

Oliver Goldsmith
TVR advert 2021 linked to the TVR website
lafont
Götti Switzerland
ROLF Spectacles
MOREL par Jean Nouvel

“Colour was always an important element of the architecture in Palm Springs, and in this collection I have used colour, both contrasting and complimentary, to bring out the graphic potential in the clean-lined design of the frames. I also layered temples with contrasting bright colours creating a vibrant energy that is in perfect tune with modernism.” In this collection, the women’s shapes are as Robert describes slightly “man-tailored” with subtle lines and a vintage flavour coming through, and of course occasionally an extremely feminine catseye or butterfly. For men, there is a reminder of Hollywood and the 1950s, with deep shapes such as those worn by Cary Grant, rounded designs with an intellectual air, and the ever popular classically defined aviator. All models sport the Robert Marc trademark hinge, which is instantly distinguishable as a mark of the brand, whilst serving its crucial role to provide ease-of-wear and absolute comfort at the temple. CN

www.robertmarc.com

 

 

Lunettes Lafont, Paris

All In The Family

Lunettes Lafont is a French family affair.  For over 85 years, there have been Lafont family members involved in the company.  Now Philippe Lafont (centre) and his two sons, Thomas (left) and Matthieu (right) are closely connected with all aspects of the company. Twenty-five years ago, Thomas and Matthieu’s elegant mother, Laurence, launched the Lafont children’s collection. Madame Lafont always said: “you cannot make children suffer,” so Lafont frames for kids have always taken little faces and children’s preferences into consideration.  Thomas has inherited the design mantle, and his collections of kid’s frames are created with his mother’s goal firmly in mind.

“Acceptance and comfort is the key issue for kids,” says Marketing Director Matthieu.  “Small faces need specifically adapted frames.  Our answer is to give different styles for different ages, and to offer exclusive colours.  We provide a product that is harmless, and as strong as possible. Quality is really at the top of the list for parents.  Why?  Because kids can play hard, fall, and sometimes sit on their frames!”

Gribouille, a boy's frame by Lafont

 

Lafont offers frames in several categories: 6 months to 4 years; Age 4-7; 7-12 years; and 12-16 years old. Acetate, metal, nylon and spring hinges ensure that the frames avoid breakage as much as possible. Even the names are fun – Gribouille, French for draw or doodle, is a boys frame alive with rockets, planets, and stars. Certain boy’s styles feature a little sports car on the tips of side pieces, and for girls, there is a ladybug – symbol of good luck.

TVR advert 2021 linked to the TVR website
ROLF Spectacles
essedue sunglasses
Oliver Goldsmith
MOREL par Jean Nouvel
Gigi, Gabie and Charivari from Lafont

 

The Lafonts are passionate about eyewear, with their commitment to the profession, their design inspiration and emphasis on quality.  The next generation of Lafont’s is growing up with a passion for eyewear. “My four year old daughter needs to wear glasses,” says Matthieu, “and she is so proud and happy to wear them! She selected her own frame.”  The family tradition carries on! Lafont have their own boutiques in Paris, in superb locations on both the Left and Right Banks of La Seine. JG

For further details: www.lafont.com

Claire Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith Sunglasses / Claire Goldsmith Legacy

Claire is her usual bubbly self when I speak to her for this feature before the optical fair Mido. She is about 7 months pregnant with her second child, but despite having to delay a few long-haul travel arrangements, she is as busy and excited as ever about business and new projects, as well as looking forward to being a mum of 2! “I feel like I’m having my third baby! The business is so important to me, and I am very protective about it and every new step we take,” she explains. Claire Goldsmith is the great granddaughter of Oliver Goldsmith, one of the most influential designers of spectacles and sunglasses, who designed for a mass of celebrities, from 1926 through to the 70s and 80s…Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn (the Audrey style “Manhattan” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s has just been re-released) and Michael Caine…and the list goes on and on. Claire opened Oliver Goldsmith Sunglasses in 2005 and now has her own flagship store in the hub of London’s Notting Hill. The newly renovated shop offers the full offering of OG styles, plus the latest additions, including Claire’s first brand in her own name, Claire Goldsmith Legacy. It also houses the archives of Oliver Goldsmith Sunglasses, including a huge, unique collection of frame styles which span decades of eyewear history and fashion.

Claire Goldsmith Legacy – classic with a twist

Launched in 2010, CG Legacy is a collection of spectacles designed by the new team Claire has put together; it’s the expression of their enthusiasm for eyewear, born out of working with the OG archive, but embodying their own new design ideas in the present day. “We launched Legacy in 2010. I felt it was time I had my own line after many years dedicated to perfecting the reissue of OG vintage classics. I have the same DNA as my great grandfather but we are not the same person, so it was time to put my own mark on eyewear with my own line. We will have a total of 20 styles in the range from this March, 6 of these will be launched in Milan at Mido. We are growing Legacy at a calm, steady rate. It suits a slightly younger customer than the pure vintage OG concept, with its colours which are fun, and the designs which are really out there! I am working on new materials for Legacy, I am exploring different metals and titanium for the first time, it’s really a new departure for us and an evolving one. (more…)

Oliver Goldsmith
OGI Eyewear
lafont
VAVA Eyewear
BLACKFIN

Babou Olengha

Butcher Couture

Babou brings an intriguing international background to her designs for Butcher Couture – leather frames that are created with her philosophy of “Slow Design”. That is the term that the designer uses for her framecreations that are made with traditional manufacturing processes, and working with skilled craftspeople and artisans. She is also an avid believer in using natural materials whenever possible, and likes to design frames that merge both style and functionality.

I had the pleasure of meeting the personable and charming designer last summer in Paris, and was impressed not only with her innovative frames, but her philosophy and unconventional approach to frame design.

Babou was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but grew up primarily in the UK, and attended University in England. She now divides her time between Oslo and London, perfecting her craft of Optical Tailoring in frames, which are made in France – giving a global flavour to her products.

Carlotta's Village
BLACKFIN
Oliver Goldsmith
EOE Sustainable Eyewear from Swedish Lapland

She emphasises that the overall focus of Butcher Couture is to offer design, quality and to evoke timelessness. In addition to frames available in boutiques, customers are able to purchase and commission frames on a made-to-order basis, and clients can choose from a selection of leathers, threads and various finishes. “I’ve always enjoyed a love affair with leather, which I believe is inherently linked to my love of all things craft and artisan,” she says, “and since starting Butcher Couture in 2007, my passion for leather is a crescendo into somewhat of a full blown obsession. (more…)

BLUE MAGIC EYE

Creative spirits don’t allow a bumpy economy to interrupt plans. Despite rocky global predictions in 2009, Guya Montermini and Ciro Tugnoli launched their first eyewear collection, Blue Magic Eye, at Silmo, where we discovered them. Their risk venture paid off from the debut, as the frames are now sold all over Europe, America, Canada and New Zealand.

The charming design duo have a specific concept for their frames. “We want to create eyewear in clean and traditional shapes, but not the “usual” version,” says Montermini, “and we create frames without thinking about a special target audience. We design what we like, and think about what we would wear. It’s important that the frames are comfortable and easy to wear. We don’t like big logos on frames; that is all too showy and extreme for us.”

ROLF Spectacles
Götti Switzerland
TVR advert 2021 linked to the TVR website
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Film inspiration

The unusual company name is taken from the movie, American Gangster. “Blue Magic was a famous product in the film, very competitive and very high quality. This is our philosophy for the frames,” says Montermini. (more…)