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Friday / July 19.
HomemifashionMade in Europe

Made in Europe

We discussed the emergence of China becoming a manufacturing giant imitating European design last issue. The hallmarks of European excellence in frame design are unrivalled. However, in a new economic season, European design is finding a new creative edge in response to the new environment.

The Europeans – traditional bastions of style and fashion – are most known for offering master craftsmanship with unrivalled quality. This isn’t without reason – Mazzucchelli Italian Acetate, Carl Zeiss Lenses, German and French Spring Hinges – the list and patents continue to impress.

Having said that, some seemingly strong designer brands have closed shop, large international companies are bailing and the current economic contraction is not looking to end in the short term.

In the coming years, we will see designers respond to their environment more creatively. What previously worked will no longer be seen in the same light. Whether this is through the use of ostentatious branding and motifs, or use of rare materials, designers are going back to the drawing board to take their designs to the next level.

The designs we are now seeing have been brought to bear through innovation in the manufacturing process. We are largely seeing this through the use of eco-friendly materials and techniques, recycling and re-working vintage acetate or metals and exploring alternatives.

New, Right Here, Right Now

People’s perceptions of novelty and value change in a tight economic market and this is the biggest challenge facing all designers. So, what are the hottest frames from Europe right here, right now?

  • Colour and crystals – used as an accent or splash – look at watery Monet-esque shades and berry tones. Natural shades continue in horn, Havana, caramel and tort.
  • Function and innovation – subtle innovations.
  • Novelty – within this climate, fun is almost seen as a dirty word. Some designers have rebelled against this with their use of bright colours for effect.
  • Classics reworked – black continues to lead and inspire.
  • Male and Female – the unisex look is taking a back seat to more defined male and female frames.
  • Geek Chic and Retro – have evolved and softened. Even dramatic cats eyes have been softened into the more flattering butterfly lens shape, offering femininity.
  • Eco Techniques and Materials – Acetate in itself is incredibly environmentally friendly as it is both natural and renewable. The production of cellulose acetate fibres are ‘clean’ materials, meet international environmental regulations and biodegradable.


A brand that represents my point about eco-friendly techniques is the exciting brand from French-Senegalese designer, Caroline Abram, called Filao. A return to nature is demonstrated with her hand-made designs from French and Italian acetate, and accessories in glass, natural stones, wood and Swarovski crystal. The lenses are made from glass to minimise scratching.


The brand developed organically around nine years ago when Abram sought work for the women in her local community. This evolved into the women making the beaded chains for her eyewear creations. Even though Filao is now an international brand (and even won a coveted Silmo D’Or), the designer and the local women continue to gather to make the unique designs thousands of women wear all over the globe. The latest collection offering creamy torts, muted jade, berry and ivory.

Distributor: CliC Products (AUS) 1800 056 572


ProDesign Denmark’s Essential collection of frames demonstrate the versatility of colour with their integrated laser-patterned metal inserts creating a sporty, modern temple motif. Naturally, ProDesign have done more than play with colour, they have added a hidden flex hinge in nickel silver, materials such as Beta Titanium and stainless steel screws, with two models specifically designed for progressive lenses.

The Iris Collection is inspired by Danish jewellery and rainforest themes. Iris offers dappled, muted tones with tortoiseshell, amber and moss acetate. The design has been designed to create a visual line of depth by countersinking the temples.

As with all ProDesign frames, many steps are involved – from hand making each frame and integrating numerous pressing steps. The hinges are nickel silver at the front and titanium at the back. The frame front and temple tips are acetate, while the organically designed metal temples are titanium. The lens style is a softened cats eye (enabling three models to fit progressives) and complement the jewel-like temples.

Distributor: Eyes Right Optical (AUS) 1800 637 654

Roberto Cavalli

Italian fashion maestro, Roberto Cavalli, usually the King of Bling, a designer who survived the last major recession in the 1980s and has come back stronger than ever whilst remaining true to his elaborate, exquisite and exotic creations, has some very pretty frames that encapsulate the pretty shades of now. Look for RC484 in 083, an acetate frame with transparent lilac and moss and dainty crystal RC motif or the muted berry enamel with tobacco leather inserts of metal frame RC481 in 28A.

Cavalli’s diffusion line, Just Cavalli, offers a fabulous male frame that references the recent vintage obsession with all things Wayfarer and has ensured it is now both rockabilly and modern with slivers of primary yellow – I love it! Look for model JC 237-092 – Buddy Holly could only dream of such a cool frame!

Distributor: Healy Optical Group (AUS) 02 9420 3200


Tres chic French family company, LaFont, continues to celebrate their novel approach to eyewear with their unique, limited edition (500 worldwide) sunglass and optical frame pairing. The Riviera collection is inspired by the timeless charm of the 1930s, relaxed elegance of summer on the Cote d’Azur. The black layered acetate oversized sunglass (Riviera Bermude) is layered with transparent and orange flecks at the back and sides of the frame. In case you were unsure what they were referencing, there is a bright coral shape splashed across the temple – a mix of chic and kitch that will capture the imagination of some lucky owners.

Not to be outdone by its brash mate, the Riviera Baroque offers a similar frame front of layered acetate sporting coral flecks in an angular, cats-eye shape, while the acetate with metal core rod temples have a stained glass affect of intricate panels of clear and coral behind a black top layer – a treasure chest from the innocence of the 1950s.

Distributor: Healy Optical Group (AUS) 02 9420 3200


Germany’s ever-popular brand, Rodenstock’s latest collection seamlessly marries technology with nature. The innovative Rodaflex Twin technology makes this possible. The temples are made entirely of wood! Rodenstock also guarantees their frame’s usual comfort will be complemented by the feeling of natural beauty. The models, Bubinga and Ebony, are made with self-adjusting sides are available in the beautiful woods.

Rodenstock has also embraced the polarity of male and female frames with their very different offerings – look at the very angular, architecturally inspired 3-piece rimless R4040 for men and then the more organically inspired R4830b for ladies – a petite gold metal frame front with cream acetate sporting a gold metal insert featuring a leafy design motif flowing down each temple.

Distributor: Rodenstock Australia (AUS) 02 9748 0988

Porsche Design

Another German brand, Porsche Design has also relied on leather inserts to decorate its latest sleek men’s sunglasses. Model PD8493 is an oversized mask is made of a single piece of titanium, while the lens is only held between the upper and lower rim. With brown leather inserts for the white temple tips and black leather for the black model, these frames are sleek, while the wide sides characterise their modern sporty look.

Relying on their innovative German technology Porsche Design have also created an amazing foldable frame PD84820 Due to a special mechanism, it is possible to fold them to be extremely flat, and they combine an elegant look with optimum UV protection.

This mechanism, which is completely integrated in the hinge area, is amazing due to its easy operation. When the sides are folded out, the lens automatically stands upright and takes on the curved form that is typical of sport sunglasses, and which optimally adapts to the shape of the face. If the sides are folded back together, then the lens lies flat, and it is easy to find space for the frame in a specially developed case. The total height of the folded frame including the original case is only approximately 15 millimetres, which makes it thin enough for a shirt or jacket pocket. Additionally, the extremely stable titanium makes these sunglasses extraordinarily light, while the lenses are made of especially flexible plastic ensuring high optical quality along with extensive UV protection.

Distributor: Rodenstock Australia (AUS) 02 9748 0988

Jacob Jensen Design

Jacob Jensen is a name many haven’t heard before. However, this Danish industrial design maestro delivers a contemporary eyewear collection; a sleek and timeless range encompassing a combination of classic European design elements and a desire for innovation without compromise a focus on the material with minimal design affectations.

Jacob Jensen is primarily known for his Bang & Olufsen audio designs, but as an industrial designer, he has designed more than 500 products for various clients. For more than 50 years, Jacob Jenson has globally challenged our ideas of how everyday objects can be experienced and how they can contain a quiet beauty.

For the first time in Australia, the Jacob Jensen Eyewear range has been launched by Sydney based eyewear company, Jimara Eyewear Group.

Distributor: Jimara Eyewear Group (AUS)1800 008 139