In a previous blog, ‘Glasses from around the world’, we looked at how eyewear style is very much influenced by the country of origin. We described French eyewear as ‘probably the most creative in the world’, and so we thought in this blog we’d delve a little deeper into which brands in particular best represent French eyewear design. For us, the top french brands for 2019 would have to be:
- Lucas de Stael
- Face a Face
- J F Rey
Read on to find out why…
Lucas de Stael is one french company making frames completely differently than any other manufacturer in the world. Rather than using the same conventional materials as everyone else – metal and plastic – they use natural materials, particularly leather, including iguana and stingray leather.
These materials create a completely unique and distinctive look, and also allow the frames to age gracefully, as they gain patina over time and gradually change colour according to the amount of UV exposure.
Their stone frames, known as the ‘Stratus’ series, contain natural minerals which glisten according to the lighting conditions. This beautiful effect emphasizes the natural aspect of these amazing glasses.
Lucas de Stael’s french subsidiary brand, Undostrial, is also worth consideration. Hinge-less, screw-less eyewear constructed from Swedish surgical steel and eco-gum rubber, Undostrial is the spiritual successor to the famously high-quality but now defunct French-made Tag-Heuer eyewear. Undostrial frames are wonderfully lightweight, strong, low maintenance and feature interchangeable side colours, popular both in France and around the world.
The image above, of Lucas de Stael himself modelling one of his creations, is taken from a Hugues.com article which described his work as the “purest form of eyewear”, as well as explaining how each frame takes 30 steps to manufacture – each employee can only make 3 pairs per day. Interestingly, Lucas partly learnt his trade working at the next french company on this list…
The most successful of all the independent French eyewear companies, Face a Face clearly are doing something right. And what they’re doing right is simple; designing some of the most stylish, yet wearable eyewear ever conceived.
The Face a Face eyewear collection features beautiful, elegant shapes, and each style tends to be available in either neutral colours or – as is their signature – bright, vivid colours which can be incredibly striking.
This french company was created by Pascal Jaulent and Nadine Roth in 1995; in their own words “based on modernity and creativity without compromise”. They depict Face a Face as “fabulous and French, high end, rich in colour and expression”, a description which is absolutely accurate.
The Alium series contains many wonderful men’s styles crafted from Aluminium – a material as impactful as it is challenging to work with. The Paris-based Face a Face design studio was able to overcome the limitations of aluminium in order to exhibit its amazing colour rendition. Aluminium naturally has a matte finish which provides a beautiful aesthetic combined with almost any colour, The Alium collection features oranges and yellows as well as navy blues and khakis, and all these colours look more effective than on a regular metal or plastic frame.
Now, Face a Face is even venturing into 3D printed eyewear with the Alium Lab series. 3D printing allows for the production of frames which are at once bold and incredibly lightweight, as well as an even more extensive use of colour. We reviewed the Alium Lab collection in this video.
The most experimental french brand on this list J F Rey try creative ideas that no one had dared before to even imagine. Whilst not all of their collections may be commercially successful, their ability to push the boundaries of what can be done with a pair of glasses must always be applauded.
Their carbon/wood collection, for example, represents the first time a designer had combined carbon fibre with wood – two interesting and attractive materials joined together in one frame.
Jean-Francois Rey, pictured above, began designing eyewear in the 80’s. According to Spectre magazine: “It only took Jean-François Rey about fiffteen years to add his name to the list of the world’s leading design talent. Time and again, he translates his inspiration from art, architecture and technology into trendsetting designs, each time changing the face of eyewear. Contemporary, up-market, bold, technologically sophisticated … there is no lack of adjectives to describe J.F. Rey’s collections.”
A personal favourite, their ‘Double Jeu’ series sees the fusion of two thin metal shapes to create a three-dimensional aesthetic. This is a perfect example of how J F Rey took a trend – in this case the resurgence of metal styles in eyewear – and added their unique touch to redefine it.