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.
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.
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.
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.
notes: We photographed Jean-Philippe at Osheaga wearing a pair of H&M aviator shades that he picked up for ten bucks at the store. In his words, these sunglasses were “cheap and cheerful” and perfect for the summer music festival season. The gold frame and tinted lenses are pretty standard, but the slight bend at the nose bridge adds a nice design detail. The simple frames are perfect with Jean-Philippe’s casual outfit, but would look great dressed up with a suit as well - proving that the classic aviator styling remains as cool and versatile as ever.
notes: We spotted Shaw in Montreal, decked out in Supreme shades and sneakers. These “Frances” frames are from Supreme’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection and feature a stretched oval shape that’s not for the faint of heart. Handmade in Japan, these acetate frames feature green lenses and a deep tortoiseshell shade. An engraved “Supreme” gold plaque on the temples adds to the exaggerated, androgynous design.
As for the name? These sunglasses are named after Frances Bean Cobain, the daughter of Kurt Cobain. Kurt’s signature pair of sunglasses featured the same mod-ish yet futuristic design, playing off themes of rebellion and street culture that still run through Supreme’s collection of clothing and accessories today.
eyewear: Banana Republic
notes: DL is a promoter for Osheaga and we photographed him at the music festival in these Banana Republic Johnny sunglasses, which prove that big chain stores can often offer some amazing eyewear finds as well. These sunglasses feature a plastic frame and smooth, egg-shaped lenses, which balance out the oval shape of DL’s face. The Banana Republic logo is stamped on the side of the temples. The look here is retro, California cool.
We like the contrast between the “Havana” colour and the dark gradient lenses. At $98, these are also a chic and affordable alternative to classic Wayfarers or a pair of frames from online sites like Warby Parker. Versatile and easy to pull-off, these sunglasses can be dressed up for a weekend at the Hamptons, or paired with a more casual look to take you through the summer music season in style.
notes: For David Macklovitch, half of New York-based electrofunk band Chromeo, fashion is distilled into a few timeless essentials. Among the classic staples: these black Ray-Ban Wayfarers, which are the only pair of sunglasses Macklovitch has ever worn.
We photographed the man who’s also known as “Dave 1″ before his performance at Osheaga – a homecoming of sorts for the Montreal native, who’s spent the better part of the year promoting the band’s latest album, “White Women,” which spawned the “Get Lucky”-esque hit single, “Jealous (I Ain’t With It).
Macklovitch also wears these Ray-Ban glasses as optical frames, and they’ve become his signature of sorts, along with some well-tailored blazers or leather biker jackets, paired with a T-shirt and jeans. It’s important for bands to also have an aesthetic vision in addition to a musical one, Macklovitch explains, and a great pair of specs is the perfect, finishing touch.