Going The Distance

We’re really excited about the 2013 rendition of the Mido Optical Fair this weekend, because of the bounty of beautiful and badass goodies that await: Lacoste Eyewear’s 80th anniversary, Police’s “Color Rock” paean to the 1980s, an Ayrton Senna line by Tag Heur and Happiness’ first foray into the optical world, to name a few.

Police's glam rock Colour-Rocks collection fully encapsulates the brand's free-wheeling underground spirit.

Police’s glam rock Colour-Rocks collection fully encapsulates the brand’s free-wheeling underground spirit.

What are you most excited to see unveiled at Mido?

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Retrospectacle

A glance at headline-making previews poised to make a splash at Mido this weekend reveals the usual slew of new technology launches (Japanese glasses that prevent facial recognition!), top-class designer collaborations (ic! Berlin’s Ralph Anderl and Lapo Elkann!) and massive celebrations (Essilor’s music x art x culture night at La Scala!).

But with Hally & Son’s 1959-era natural water buffalo horn optical frames and Hapter’s World War II-inspired collection, it’s clear that retro isn’t going anywhere. It may not be anything new in way of style and feel, but brace yourselves for the usual influx of beautifully handcrafted acetate frames evoking old-time Hollywood glamour, discerning British cool, and hipster nerd chic.

At Amsterdam's Brillenmuseum, the allure of Dior clearly withstands the test of fashion phases, and so much more. © Desiree Koh

At Amsterdam’s Brillenmuseum, the allure of Dior clearly withstands the test of fashion phases, and so much more. © Desiree Koh

Away from the sprawling Fiera Milano convention center, independent opticians fixated on antiquity do a different kind of purchasing, eschewing trade shows for junkyards, estate sales, flea markets and any other means to uncover frames that can date back to more than 150 years old. Loot in hand, they lovingly restore these treasures into wearable condition – yes, even daily! – through careful cleaning and repair with a gentle hand.

Based on the premise that glasses of yore were built to last, these antique eyewear pieces have a long way to go yet, and whether you wear one of these or a more modern pair, getting the most mileage out of your frames isn’t hard at all with these care and maintenance tips.

Prêt-à-Porter

On Monday, one of the truest and most important voices of the fashion industry on the business side, Women’s Wear Daily, published “Frames Through the Indie Lens“. It was a much-needed and long-delayed piece on how beautifully designed and handcrafted eyewear are gaining in appeal to a growing number of consumers who want boutique looks from independent brands. We’re always been strong supporters of such collections, and glad that someone is saying, in a very big way, that gorgeous eyewear is way beyond plain plastic or metal ware.

It’s a framer, says the fashion industry’s most important voice. © Women’s Wear Daily

While ingeniously designed optical frames and sunglasses (click on the links to see our favorites from Silmo 2012 earlier this month) show off a brand’s passion for breaking down conventions in style and artisanal production (typically custom-made or through complex, patented processes), ready-made eyewear that embrace a fun view of vision correction accessories can also be innovative and way out of the usual spectacle box.

Your kid can have his pacifier – and sunnies, too! © Lytot

Ready-made eyewear is a cost-effective way of answering some really important questions: How do I get my toddler to not yank U.V. protection off their faces because the discomfort irritates them? How do I not look like Methuselah’s grandma just because I need a little help doing the New York Times crossword in the morning? Lytot and eyebobs eyewear answered, “Right back atcha,” and that’s why they’re on our list of the best ready-made eyewear we saw at Silmo.

You can’t help but love a collection that has a frame to help you look like Spongebob. © eyebobs eyewear

Visual Spectacles

What a whirlwind Silmo 2012 was… sure, you could feel the general malaise kicking Europe about in every corner, from the scaled-down celebrations and an over-reliance on the vintage trend to fewer giveaways and a thinner and less lively crowd overall.

But even though there were fewer booths than before, the organizers made up it for it by giving exhibitors more space to play with. And play they did – despite the somber mood, some designers still made the most of the situation and had tons of fun, injecting a spirit of much needed cheer into the Paris-Nord Villepinte exposition center. And on this gray landscape, flashes of color and creativity made an even bigger splash than usual.

In addition to all the eye-catching eyewear and stunning sunglasses we saw, here are our top three visual spectacles – thank goodness for booth fairies!

The Italians at Artlife had this wonderful eye-dea built around stylish transformations – at their pop-up salon, everyone was welcome to get new cuts and colors by a resident hairstylist. © Desiree Koh

You can always count on l.a. Eyeworks to bring the SoCal sunshine wherever they go! All that glitters is gold glasses set against yellow out-of-this-world life forms that might give Van Gogh’s sunflowers a run for their seed money. © Desiree Koh

Everything old is new again at Kowalski, where their cabin in the northern Parisian “woods” truly embodied the spirit and craftsmanship of their collection. Old, scrapped, brushed, woodworked, and like their namesake – hot, desirable, and rebellious. It’s a Mucho Brando of scruffy style – we say, “STELLAR!!!!!” © Desiree Koh

À Bientôt, Paris!

We’re getting ready to attend Silmo – Mondial de l’Optique in Paris next week, which is the queen of all optical fairs, the most important event on the trade calendar where designers from luxury label to independent across the globe (and with out-of-this-world innovations every year, maybe even in the galaxy!) gather to strut their stuff.

There is always so much to see (pardon the pun) and everything is such a spectacle (oops, I did it again), and it’s always worth the 10-hour days traipsing down aisles, lanes and alleys, catching up with old friends, making new business partners for our stores The Lens Men and The Eye Site, and I always leave wishing I could take home with me most of the eyewear I’ve fallen in love with. You can definitely expect a full daily report on our home base eyeglasses.about.com, as well as on-the-go updates via Facebook and Twitter, so watch tune in to these spaces regularly and often.

In the meantime, because we couldn’t wait, we did some scouting and here’s what we’re thrilled to look out for:

Everybody do the Bellinger Bounce! Image © Bellinger

Leave it to the design-driven Danes to create their own acetate from cotton, acetone and alcohol, so that beautiful blends of color can be swirled and layered to produce these gorgeous plastic frames. Bellinger likens the process to that of old-fashioned candy-making – and that’s how you get eye candy.

Frost’s Burlesque (left) and Lolita (right) sunglasses embody the theatrical elegance the brand is known for. Image © Frost

What’s cool about Frost, a German brand, is that designer Marion Frost teases classical shapes with casual interpretations that add theatrical elegance to her bold pieces. She likens it to eyewear you’ve always wanted, but never knew existed.

There are two sides to every story on the Ginga. Image © Francis Klein

Francis Klein always puts on their best show on home ground – after all, their designs are conceived in the arrondissement that was the heart of the Belle Epoque. With different details on both sides of the same front, we’re reminded that style is multi-faceted, and should explore various aspects of our individual personalities.

Light + stainless steel + outsized x Bernhard Wilheim = Rosi. Image © Mykita

Mykita also has duality on their minds, as the boys from Berlin continue their collaboration with Bernhard Wilheim to introduce Rosi, described as a “schizophrenic sight” where one side represents au naturel and the other, “excessive make-up”.

Simplicity, minimalism and good design are the core of Jacob Kilsgaard and Henrik Bonnelycke’s philosophy. Image © Kilsgaard Eyewear

And finally, these aluminum-acetate combos from Kilsgaard Eyewear will lighten up the upcoming fall and winter seasons and make spirits bright through the shorter days and longer nights.

Oh boy. Where do we start? How about our guides to choosing frames for oval-shaped faces and square-shaped faces? While we never advocate limiting eyewear choices, this might just help you focus in on some choices instead of going crazy!