As Vuarnet prepares to celebrate 60 years, mivision spoke to the company’s CEO Lional Giraud and Artistic Director Christophe Pillet about this French brand’s heritage, style and unwavering commitment to manufacturing eyewear with high-end mineral glass lenses that are hand-made in-house.
Vuarnet, established in 1957, epitomises French sportive elegance and technical lens precision. The brand was founded by Parisian optician Roger Pouilloux, with the primary motivation to come up with a lens that would enhance his personal vision when skiing in the alps, especially in white-out weather.
Pouilloux initially came up with the Skilynx, a yellow mineral glass lens that he found provided him with the best contrast vision.
When Jean Vuarnet, a French ski champion competed in the downhill skiing event at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympic Winter Games, he chose to wear Pouilloux’s Skilynx lenses and he took out Gold. History was made… the optician and ski champion teamed up to form Vuarnet.
What makes the Vuarnet brand special is the use of mineral lenses for 100 per cent of our models, including prescription lenses
This exciting new French brand quickly became the reference for elegance on the ski slopes and soon after was adopted as urban wear by famous personalities, among them Romy Schneider, Mick Jagger, Alain Delon and Miles Davis. Unsurprisingly, Vuarnet went on to become an iconic brand in Europe and the USA.
Today Vuarnet’s technical lenses continue to be favoured by many for skiing, sailing and surfing. Others choose the brand for its great styling as well as the eye protection afforded by Vuarnet’s hand-made mineral glass sun lenses.
Maintaining the Heritage
Designer and architect Christophe Pillet is the contemporary artistic director at Vuarnet, responsible for ensuring frames reflect the brand’s unique heritage.
Mr. Pillett says a model known as the Glacier defines the Vuarnet brand well. “Since first created in the ‘80s, the Glacier has remained a symbol of performance and quality,” he explained. “Designed for the mountain peaks, these glasses were worn by the greatest mountaineers of the time who appreciated the unrivalled comfort and protection the lenses provided. Their success spread rapidly beyond the French Alps and the model has even seduced the most secret agent in history: James Bond in Spectre, directed by Sam Mendes. Nowadays the model has evolved, moving down from the mountains to the city streets. The use of high-end materials and a more-suitable-for-fashion design have made it a reference and a style icon,” he said.
Protective Mineral Glass Lenses
Vuarnet, which makes all of its frames and lenses at its own factory in France, 40km out of Paris, has become one of very few mineral lens manufacturers in Europe.
According to CEO Lional Giraud, each Vuarnet sunglass lens takes 72 hours and 17 different steps to craft, from the polishing to the engraving.
“What makes the Vuarnet brand special is the use of mineral glass lenses for 100 per cent of our models, including prescription lenses,” said Mr. Giraud. “Mineral glass lenses offer the best protection and clarity of vision, as opposed to plastic lenses. As an example all our lenses protect from infrared light whereas the vast of majority of plastic lenses don’t. Mineral glass lenses also offer an unmatched purity of vision and colour perception, and they are far more scratch resistant. It is not a coincidence that all the professional lenses for cameras, and telescopes are made out of mineral glass lenses. We combine those lenses with the best frame materials available –using Mazzucchelli acetate, titanium and stainless steel – to design a high-end, elegant and performance sunglass frame.”
Working with the Future in Mind
Mr. Giraud perceives that the quality of eyewear and its ability to enhance eye health will become increasingly important in the future. “We see an emerging demand for more quality lenses and this corresponds with higher concern from the consumer for eye protection, which perfectly fits with what Vuarnet has to offer. As a consequence of that, more and more players are beginning to offer mineral glass lenses in their product range. This is a positive thing for us as it validates our choices and the commitments we made many years ago.”
In terms of design, Mr. Pillet said Vuarnet will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2017 with the introduction of cutting edge models, introducing very rare combinations of materials such as titanium and mineral glass lenses. An optical collection may also be introduced in years to come.
Contact: MYM Group (AUS) 07 5528 3656