By  on September 10, 2007

Fabien Baron wants to be more than just a creative director behind some of the editorial and advertising images on the pages of fashion magazines. He wants to be on them.

The creative director of French Vogue and founder of Baron & Baron Inc., an advertising and marketing firm with such clients as Balenciaga and Calvin Klein, is launching Fabien Baron Eyewear, a collection of women's and men's sunglasses.

In partnership with Modo Eyewear, the line will make its debut next week exclusively with Luxottica Group's new high-end eyewear chain, Ilori. The 14 styles, all handcrafted in Japan, will wholesale from $120 to $160, with some higher-priced limited edition styles. The collection will retail internationally in January at select retailers, including Barneys New York and Colette in Paris.

Here, Baron discusses accessories, luxury, logos and why good friends can make great business partners.

WWD: Why sunglasses?

Fabien Baron: I've known Alessandro [Lanaro, Modo's president and chief executive officer] for a long time. We met years ago. This is his business and we talked casually and said, 'We should do glasses.' I thought it would be fun for me to try. It was more friendship than business-based.

WWD: How'd it go?

F.B.: It was a great experience. Sunglasses have always been objects that intrigued me. It's organic and very tedious, though it doesn't look it. One millimeter this way and one millimeter that way and it turns into something else, looks like something else, feels like something else.

WWD: What kind of woman wears your sunglasses?

F.B.: She's sophisticated, knowledgeable about fashion and what quality and luxury are about. She has a certain elegance that is understated. There are no logos overwhelming the design and that was very intentional. We feel like people are sick of logos.

WWD: How would you define your personal style?

F.B.: A side of it comes from Paris and being French. I like a classic type of elegance. But I also moved here and so I want to be modern and forward. The combination of the two makes my work what it is — simple, clean, bold, modern with a sense of the classic.WWD: Why has your point of view been successful?

F.B.: I guess because there's always a side of things I do that's inviting. It feels comfortable, not aggressive. I try to keep the elegance. It comes from my background. I grew up in a city where every day you have a sense of the past and history. You go to the Louvre, walk around and it's so beautiful that it's anchored in me.

WWD: How has fashion changed since you entered the industry?

F.B.: Fashion is borderline mass market. Everybody is interested in fashion and has access to fashion because product categories have broken down into eyewear and perfume up to couture. Branding has become the most important thing for a fashion company to deal with.

WWD: How has the Internet changed fashion?

F.B.: There's so much media now that it builds a need for newness — new product and new people designing more product. The same goes for stores. The stores needs more product always. There needs to be newer things all the time, so the rotation is very fast.

WWD: What does luxury mean to you?

F.B.: Luxury to me is based on craftsmanship, on quality of products and execution of design. That to me is real luxury. Putting gold on a product or flashy things and a high price tag is not luxury. True luxury is understated. It's very subtle.

WWD: What is a luxury in your life?

F.B.: Time.

WWD: What else are you up to?

F.B.: I'm still at French Vogue, still with Calvin Klein and doing different projects with different clients. This is really the excitement, this is new and interesting.

WWD: Would you like to design more accessories?

F.B.: We will be going into optical soon and I could also see myself designing handbags, but clothing would be hard. Clothes are not objects and you really need a skill for it, technically. Of course I have some ideas.WWD: Is this the beginning of the Fabien Baron lifestyle brand?

F.B.: I don't know. Like I said, this venture was based on friendship. So maybe I need more friends.

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