Leona Edmiston is a name that’s been on every fashionista’s lips for well over 30 years, most recently in reference to the creative talent behind the eponymous Leona Edmiston dress empire. Leona Edmiston eyewear – sunglasses and optical frames – reflects the effortless style, glamour and sophistication that the dress empire is renowned for.
Leona Edmiston is so much more than the doyen of Australian fashion. Since establishing her eponymous brand in 2001, this talented designer and businesswoman has developed her own lines of jewellery, handbags, coats, knitwear, footwear, sleepwear, hosiery (cutely branded Pins), and Little Leona for girls. More recently, Leona released the Leona Edmiston Ruby diffusion collection, homewares exclusively for Myer, as well as sunglasses and optical frames.
Leona Edmiston eyewear is designed by Leona in conjunction with the creative talent Jaimee Kearns.
Jaimee, who acquired the licence to produce Leona Edmiston eyewear one year ago, studied industrial design before completing a Masters of Design at the University of New South Wales. Prior to entering the world of eyewear, she designed both fashion and furniture; principles of which she says are easily applied when coming up with new ideas for sun and optical frames.
Jaimee says her eyewear is inspired by global fashion trends including shapes, colours, prints, materials and manufacturing techniques. However, the major influence is the seasonal fashion collections designed by Leona Edmiston.
“Leona’s fashion collections are inspired by findings from her own travels – iconic prints, vintage scarves, artworks, even antique prints. When she has completed her collection we sit down together to work on the frames. Generally I’ll bring along a selection of frame shapes I think will work with her collection. Leona will bring along colour swatches and then we work together to decide on the elements from the fashion collection that can be translated into frames.
“I prefer to design on the computer, using three-dimensional modeling, so once we’ve come to an agreement, I’ll go away to do my work. I have a good understanding of face shapes and that’s where I always start.
“Once I’m happy that the frames I’ve designed will fit particular face shapes, I’ll adorn them with detail inspired by Leona’s collections. Lastly, I’ll choose the acetates that complement the frame designs and coordinate with Leona’s fashion collections.
“By the time I meet with Leona again, I have a long short-list of designs ready to present. Leona will cut that list back further until we have a complete and final range – usually 30 optical frames and 12 sunglasses for the season.
Jaimee said her eyewear designs reflect Leona’s ethos of ‘celebrating women’ by designing with careful consideration for all shapes and sizes to ensure that no ‘body’ misses out on a style that they love. “Within each collection we have a range of styles to suit different face shapes – including rectangular, round and some wearable cats eye frames. Then we have colours to suit both conservative and
more daring women.
“Our aim is to appeal to women from age 25 through to 65 however within that there are always exceptions, such as my very youthful 80-year-old Grandma who just loves them.”
Right now, Jaimee said, the collection includes a 50/50 mix of acetate and metal frames. The acetate frames are finer and lighter than before with intricate patterning and fashion colours that include pale milky pink and lipstick red. The next collection, currently being worked on, will again feature finer, lighter acetates, in sizes that are large without being oversized – big enough to comfortably take a progressive lens. The colours will include blush neutrals and navy, with the acetates highly polished to give a high quality look and feel.
Jaimee said she loves working with acetate and that one of her favourite moments during the design process is surrounding herself with acetate colour samples. “When you’re sitting in a pile of acetate choosing colour, that’s when you get a real feel for the eyewear collection you’re designing.
“Another favourite moment is when the first samples come in. By that time I’m usually consumed with designing the next collection, so the samples feel new again… it’s like Christmas!”
Working for the Difference
Working within a highly competitive market has its challenges. “Stores can only carry so many brands so you really have to give customers a reason to choose one brand over another. That reason is often in the detail,” said Jaimee, who travels overseas several times each year to source materials and work with the manufacturers.
“I am highly critical of the first set of samples. I try them on lots of different faces to check the fit, and if necessary, I will revise the frame dimensions and material thickness to achieve the best possible production collection.
“Fortunately I pay a lot of attention to detail and I don’t take no for an answer. If a sample doesn’t measure up to my expectations in terms of design or quality, it goes back and gets worked on until we reach a point where I’m happy and I know Leona Edmiston will be too,” she said.
Leona Edmiston frames are designed in Australia and made in China using European hardware including flex hinges. Sunglasses are fitted with high quality CR39 lenses. Optical frames are available in European and Asian bridge fit. Leona Edmiston eyewear is distributed by Artemiss.
Contact: Jaimee Kearns
E: [email protected]