The Spectacled

Get to Know: Ahlem Eyewear

Designer Ahlem Manai-Platt

Designer Ahlem Manai-Platt

Take a walk through Hollywood these days, and chances are, you’ll run into a gaggle of style-savvy celebrities, all sporting magazine-worthy looks finished off with some seriously-stunning sunglasses from new, California-based brand, Ahlem Eyewear.

Better yet, take a stroll through Venice for a coffee at Intelligentsia and odds are, you’ll run into Ahlem herself.

With the launch of her eponymous eyewear line, French-born Ahlem Manai-Platt is merging the laidback sophistication of the West Coast with her chic Parisian roots. The brand, which launched this spring, is a unisex collection of authentic, hand-made frames, occupying that enviable position between the casual-cool of Garrett Leight, and the over-the-top editorial-ness of Thierry Lasry. With classic silhouettes mixed with surprising, architectural details, Ahlem’s frames convey warmth, romance and rebellion all at once.

Each frame is named after a neighbourhood in Paris. It’s a city, Manai-Platt explains, that “isn’t defined by brands or trends, but rather by the people – a mix of artists and intellects who work hard and hustle, yet take time to relax and play as well.”

Our favorite is the “Barbès” – named after a neighbourhood in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. For some, this is a neighbourhood alive with community and culture. For others, this is a part of Paris better left unspoken for; dark and seedy and full of illicit activity. The dichotomy is captured in the Barbès frame, which is sharp and aggressive, with a vibrant energy.

Sketch of Barbès frame

Sketch of Barbès frame

Ahlem Eyewear - "Barbès"

Ahlem Eyewear – “Barbès”

 

For other options, the “Pigalle” frame is sensual and sultry, reflecting the red light district of sex shops and adult theaters in Paris, while the vintage-inspired “St-Martin” is big, chunky, and as full of sass and character as the bustling arrondissement it represents.

Ahlem Eyewear - "Pigalle"

Ahlem Eyewear – “Pigalle”

Ahlem Eyewear - "St. Martin"

Ahlem Eyewear – “St. Martin”

Each pair of frames is entirely made by hand in France, with uncompromising attention to detail. The Mazzuchelli acetates used are all hand-selected by Manai-Platt. Organic Divel lenses, meantime, provide superior UVA/UVB protection, with built-in anti-reflective and anti-scratch coating. While the frames may look familiar at first, it’s the subtle touches that reveal Ahlem Eyewear’s signature: beveled temples, rounded edges and a finely-curved nose bridge invite an interplay between hard and soft elements, while a unique metal and rubber binding on the hinges adds stability.

Ahlem Eyewear - "St. Martin"

Ahlem Eyewear – “St. Martin”

And while the covetable frames have been spotted on everyone from Jessica Alba to Reese Witherspoon (Beyonce and Kate Moss are next on Manai-Platt’s wish list), there is something equally comfortable and accessible for everyday eyewear fans as well. “This collection isn’t just for one type of person or another,” Manai-Platt explains. “I wanted to create something cool and stylish that everyone will love to wear!”

- Ahlem Eyewear is sold online at ahlemeyewear.com and in select boutiques worldwide, including Colette, 10 Corso Como and Opening Ceremony.

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