By  on October 29, 2007

PARIS — Limited edition lines, exclusive materials and voluminous frames defined collections at eyewear fair Silmo.

Despite the strong value of the euro against the dollar, retail executives continued to see business on the bright side, with plans to up budgets by as much as 15 percent and add more high-end and luxury styles.

"The business is only going to grow," said Michael Hansen, vice president and general manager of Ilori, the high-end eyewear retailer owned by Luxottica. "[Luxury frames] are recession-proof and not impacted by negative economic times."

Hansen said he expected to see prices on the rise for ultrapremium styles following trends in the handbag and luxury watch sectors.

"We will see exclusive frames at very high price points," he said.

Precious materials, such as buffalo horn and solid gold frames, some embedded with diamonds, and exotic skins made a strong showing at the fair, which ended its four-day run at the Porte de Versailles here on Oct. 22. Other key trends were discrete brand motifs and rectangular and flat-fronted lenses. Cat's eye and circular shapes reminiscent of the Forties and Fifties were prevalent in optical and sunglass frames.

"We save our dollars for European labels," said Thérèse Langille, owner of San Francisco-based eyewear store Through the Hayes. "There is a lot more innovation here. Design-conscious styles keep us placing orders despite the strength of the euro. Beautiful new metal work and a return to retro fashion from the Fifties and Hollywood offered uniqueness."

Langille said she would boost her budget by as much as 15 percent.

"It's a new interpretation of the Fifties and Sixties," said Maurizio Marcolin, chief executive officer of Marcolin, presenting five new interpretations of Tom Ford's Whitney style, including bamboo-inspired branches or rose-tinted lenses.

Marcolin noted high-end fashion brands, especially Tom Ford Eyewear and Roberto Cavalli, were driving up sunglass sales overall.

Vendors were upbeat, with the U.S. market continuing to be the driving force, as well as a spike in demand for sunglasses in Asia. For example, America accounts for about 20 percent of Marcolin's revenues.

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