The Spectacled

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Five Minutes With Thierry Lasry

Thierry Lasry photographed in Toronto

Thierry Lasry photographed in Toronto

There are eyewear designers – and then there’s Thierry Lasry. If Ray-Ban makes glasses for the All-American boy and girl next door, Lasry’s frames are for their bad boy cousin, taking over the neighbourhood with a jolt of Parisian flair.

Since launching his eponymous collection in 2006, the French-born Lasry has made a name for himself with buzzed-about collections that combine his love for 80s nostalgia and rock-and-roll, with futuristic, forward-thinking design. His frames carry names that always provoke (“Orgasmy”) and occasionally offend (“Anorexxy”), proving Lasry’s good talents also extend to keeping people talking. Thierry Lasry frames are now carried in stores worldwide, splashed across countless magazine covers, and seen on every fashion icon from Hollywood to Hong Kong. Later this year, he’ll embark on his most high-profile collaboration yet: a capsule collection for Fendi that will be available in early 2015.

Before all that though, we found a few minutes to catch up with Lasry to chat about celebrity endorsements, European style, and the one word he’s been too nervous to use on a pair of frames…

The Spectacled: Who have you been most excited to see in a pair of your glasses?
Lasry: Madonna. She is just such an icon. She is on a completely different level. There are different levels of celebrity now and Madonna’s just above it all. She first wore our frames in 2010, and we were a lot smaller then. It obviously helped a lot with brand recognition and brand exposure when she was photographed in a pair of Thierry Lasry glasses.

Did she find them on her own? How do you reach out to celebrities?
In general for celebrities, it’s not something we really provoke. We’re not like those big companies that just throw product at them. Either we work with their stylists or they shop on their own. In the case of Madonna, I was contacted by her stylist, who told me that she was a big fan and in love with everything that I was doing. I initially thought it was spam, but then one day the stylist asked for my personal cell phone number and said, “I need you to send a few pictures to Madonna. She will wear anything that you want her to wear.”

What did you say when you met her?
I actually didn’t get to meet her. I haven’t met her yet but maybe one day.

You’re based in France, but you have a large following in the U.S. What’s the difference between how Americans and Europeans wear glasses?
My market is the whole world; I don’t see one country as being that different from another. We’re very fashion-oriented and fashion is really globalized now. I don’t see much difference either in perception or the way in which customers buy our sunglasses. I might see differences in Asia but otherwise, the best-sellers in America are the same best-sellers in France.

If you had to pick your favourite frame out of all the pairs that you’ve designed, which one would it be?
There’s two. One is the “Sexxxy” because it’s a very iconic frame. Literally every celebrity from J.Lo to Anne Hathaway to Rihanna is wearing it. But the main reason I like this frame is that any woman looks fabulous in it. She looks sexy, literally. It’s an amazing feeling to create this little thing that can add to a girl’s confidence and feeling.

Thierry Lasry - "Sexxxy"

Thierry Lasry – “Sexxxy”

The second style is the “Slutty” because technically, it’s extremely challenging to produce. I really believe that our factory is the only factory on the planet that can manufacturing the “Slutty.” All my frames are built like Legos and normally we build the structure from the back, but for the “Slutty” it starts from the front, with an extra thick layer on top. Everybody is like, “Wow, how is this piece made?” And that’s what I like to do every season – not just introduce new designs, but to also challenge everything that is possible technically. And when it really works and the result is cool, it’s great.

Thierry Lasry - "Slutty"

Thierry Lasry – “Slutty”

In apparel, there is the “Little Black Dress.” What for you is the LBD of eyewear?
That’s easy: every woman should have a pair of the black “Sexxxy.”

Your names are quite scandalous and have occasionally caused some controversy. Are there any names that you’ve wanted to use but haven’t been able to?
“Orgy.” That would be cool. I like to shock but it has to remain a little tasteful. It’s always borderline. We don’t want to shock people to the point where they won’t buy the frame because of its name, but I don’t want to be too boring either. I’ve been thinking about using “Orgy” for a while now. It’s temping but it might never really happen. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

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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.