Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Touch Wood

Fashion has now fully embraced wood; it's sculpted into state-of-the-art heels on shoes, jewellery, evening bags and eyewear and never have I seen as many wooden frames as this year at Silmo in Paris, the fair was awash with them!

One brand stood out though, mainly because of it's genuine connection with the woodland. W-eye's wood artist founder Doriano just seemed very familiar; where I come from in the Alps, in the North East of Italy (so not far from where Doriano grew-up) there is a deep connection with the woodland (so powerful that you believe in the spirits of the woodland!), also my dad is a (rather eccentric) wood artist as well.

Doriano already had a lifelong experience crafting wood, in fact his family had started making chairs in the '60s and his curiosity and experimentation lead him to apply the same techniques (bent single sheet of plywood without joints) to make... glasses!

Though the material is worked in a traditional way there is a lot of technology behind it. Between the seven bonded sheets of wood there are two of aluminium which enable the wearer to mould the frames to their face shape and still retain its featherlight (10grams, I have been told) and elastic features.

But for this combination of wood and technology to be successful Doriano needed a designer's talents to capture the product's essence and to turn it into an aesthetic form. This led to the collaboration between Doriano and designer Matteo Ragni; true to nature even in the choice of names, the Bee-eater was born.

The wood used to make the W-eye glasses is certified, this ensures the wood is sourced through sustainably managed forests according to strict environmental, social and economic standards and other controlled sources, as explained in this video by Alpi, the people who supply W-eye.

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Monday, 25 November 2013

Ants off the grid

artwork by Eyespectacle

Do you remember Victor&Rolf's muddling upside down shop in Milan? Well, I have tried on some of my sunglasses upside down and the effect is quite attractive! As such Grey Ant has been a revelation, I get the impression that they adopt a similar, unconventional, approach to designing some of their styles...with surreal effects.

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Monday, 18 November 2013

Sculptural beauty

Anna-Karin's new collection has the energy and flamboyance of Animalier sculptures balanced by delicate floral sculptures resembling gilded fine porcelain.

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Monday, 11 November 2013

Damir Doma's Colour Clouds

This is a super-late entry on Mykita's Damir Doma collaboration I saw at Silmo. As it often happens the more I read about the brand and the inspiration behind it the more I found it inspiring. Sterling Ruby's spellbinding "Dihedral" influenced the "floating colour clouds" and consequently the wide frames to better show-off the effect; a clear departure from Damir Doma's minute proportions of past seasons.

Still from Sterling Ruby's "Dihedral" video installation

Still from Sterling Ruby's "Dihedral" video installation

The collection also tries to find a link between fashion and art and this reminded me of a video who's memory lay dormant in my mind. You may remember "Elsa" and Miuccia's Impossible Conversations, the one where they argue whether fashion should be called art, do you remember?

In the past 8 years Mykita's has established a clever connection with art, this adds soul to their highly micro engineered collections, in the same way that their use of saturated colours offsets the cold nature of the steel frames.

"Ca lume" by Mark Borthwick for Mykita 8

"Handy up" by Sarah Illenberger for Mykita 8

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Monday, 4 November 2013

Looking for a different experience

glasses by Cutler&Gross, artwork by Eyespectacle

I was talking to a friend about opticians a while ago and why they happen to be (in most cases but, admittedly, not all) just really boring places??

There are many shop that only sell one product category, like shoe shops, hat shops, perfume shops and they seem to be a lot more appealing than opticians. Would you agree? A perfume shop appeals not just to the olfactory senses, it's a showcase of fonts, colours and graphics. It has great visual qualities. Hat shops make you think you can be someone else, even if just for a day. The James Smith&Sons umbrella and walking sticks shop on New Oxford Street makes you think of old fashion travels...

Lucio, my old boss and mentor once told me that eyewear can be a disguise, enhance your personality or transform you into someone else completely...however going to most optician's shops makes for a visually boring experience; those ads with models and attitudes that have no resemblance with real people are super-cheesy and it doesn't help that they happen to sell rows of really boring, variations-on-the-same-theme glasses. I find that glasses (arguably the item that is worn for longer than any other fashion accessory) are 100% decontextualised in current environments where they are sold.

Do you know an optician that offers a great experience, that creates a real context for the eyewear it sells or that is a pioneer in glasses retail?
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