Paul Malairan, senior designer with Look Vision and the man responsible for the Ted Lapidus’ optical and sunglass ranges, has a vision to redefine eyewear. He spoke to mivision about the Ted Lapidus’ legacy, trends in eyewear… and finding new designs from unusual inspirations.
Edmond ‘Ted’ Lapidus redefined chic in the 1960s and 70s when he introduced the now infamous safari suit to the streets (hard to imagine but in its day this look was the height of style!). However, we’re more likely to thank this Parisian fashion designer for promoting blue jeans as an everyday fashion item.
While he initially shot to prominence in the world of haute couture, Ted Lapidus, the ‘poet of French couture‘, was credited with democratising French elegance by making fashion accessible to men and women in the street.
By the late 70s, his company started to emphasise accessories as the haute couture market declined, and today his name lives on, mainly through the Ted Lapidus range of accessories such as fragrances, watches … and eyewear.
In France, people often wear crazy styles in optical and more classic things in sunglasses
As head designer for the Ted Lapidus’ optical and sunglass ranges, which has been produced under licence by Look Vision for the past six years, Paul Malairan is passionate about the brand.
Q: What makes the Ted Lapidus brand so special?
A: Ted, or Edmond Lapidus was a famous French fashion designer who started to work in the 50s, and by the 60s, his clothing was being worn by the French A-list such as movie stars Brigitte Bardot and Alain Delon.
In the 1970s, the company began to make sunglasses and perfumes under licence. Look Vision got the optical and sunglass licence in 2004.
Sadly, Ted Lapidus passed away in 2008 at 79 years of age from leukaemia-related pulmonary complications but his name lives on through his design legacy that is a continuing success today.
So, to answer your question…. The brand is special for its heritage, its famous history, its French style and quality, and of course, its name.
Q: How did you get into eyewear design and when did you start working for Ted Lapidus at Look Design?
A: I joined Look Vision in the summer of 2007 and it is my first experience in eyewear. I used to work in the toy industry after graduating from the Strate College Designer School near Paris.
I quickly gained experience by visiting fairs and factories, and now I’m the senior designer at Look Vision design. I’m supervising the creation of our three main brands, including, of course, Ted Lapidus.
I’m working with a very young, vibrant design team – the average age is only 28.
Q: Where do you seek inspiration for your Ted Lapidus designs?
A: For the collection for men, we seek inspiration on GT cars, architecture and luxury watches, which we see as the kinds of products the Ted Lapidus man would like.
For women, we take inspiration from jewellery, oriental patterns, and historical Ted Lapidus patterns such as the ‘kookla’ (‘doll’ in Russian). The ‘kookla’ is the little girl Ted Lapidus used to draw on his design drawings. The little girl’s head pattern can be found on some of our feminine styles.
Q: How do you maintain the iconic Ted Lapidus style?
A: We are not trying to recycle vintage styles, we prefer to look forward and create our own, new styles. However, there are certain brand elements, core elements of the brand’s ‘D.N.A.’, which we like to reintroduce. For example, the kookla we talked about before and the anchor medallion that will reappear on our next collection of sunglasses. We try to maintain the brand in the trends of today.
Q: How do the designs for optical frames differ from your sunglass range? Do you feel that fashion in optical frame design is gaining in importance?
A: You may be surprised to hear that our optical frames are more creative than our sunglasses. This is because, in France, people often wear crazy styles in optical and more classic things in sunglasses. Also, from our point of view, fashion in optical frames is more important than in sunglasses.
The challenge with optical frames is that they need to be practical for both the wearer and the optician, and they also need to be worn every day.
Therefore, the size and ergonomy is much more important in optical than in sunglasses.
In France, sunglasses are worn more occasionally in the summer, and are considered as more of a fashion accessory than a necessity. Look Vision’s speciality is fashion for the optical.
Q: What do you think will be the new big trend in eyewear?
A: Ecology will be the next real challenge. The eyewear industry needs to rethink its sustainability. We have to reduce our waste and help emerging countries.
The other trend in my opinion will be to make unique frames for each wearer.
As we call it in French, ‘sur mesure’. People want more and more personalised objects. We have to find a way to combine this with industrial processes.
Q: What has Ted Lapidus got planned for the future in terms of design?
We have a whole range of new and of course better styles to come! Our first acetate eye shapes will be launched in next SILMO, as well as the new collection of sunglasses. There’ll be more pretty styles for the women and more architectural designs for the men. We will also use carbon fibre as a decoration to recall the racing cars and luxury watches.