LAS VEGAS — Bigger was better at Vision Expo West, the giant eyewear show at Sands Expo and Convention Center here.
Although the show’s west coast edition, which ended its three-day run Sept. 20, caters primarily to the traditionally fashion-shy three O’s — ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians — fashion frames commanded much floor space this season, with flashy booths making a comeback after being scaled back last year.
Dominant trends included Jackie O-style oversize plastics, gradient frames, variations on horn and tortoise looks and innovative temple treatments. Rimless and shield styles continue as key looks, while lens colors swayed toward reds and pinks and traditional grays and browns, with white as a new favorite.
Even more designer names were in the mix this season, with Coach, Stella McCartney, Giorgio Armani, Bottega Veneta and Malo bowing with lines. Other news included Allison Eyewear’s new Vivienne Westwood collection, set to debut in Paris next month.
At the show, Allison presented the new licensed Malo collection, which embodied the sophisticated classic oval look with gold-filled temples. Its sportier licensed GF Ferré line took a walk on the wilder side with colored shields and plastics in contrasting colors like black and pink and caramel and purple.
“Shields are still strong, though they’re scaling down and there’s not as much flash in the lenses,” said Diana Downs, national sales manager.
At Marchon Eyewear, senior vice president of designer brands Mark Ginsberg said the company was stepping up its fashion looks and technical innovations for many lines this season. Marchon launched the licensed Coach collection, where several styles featured a three-piece air-lock system, which eliminated screws, as well as decorative grommets and logos. Its Fendi and DKNY lines, meanwhile, featured feather-leather temples, which added an air of luxury, as did baguette stone, inlaid logos and matte gold accents.
At Escada, signature sportswear details merged deftly into the sunglasses. Animal prints, graffiti and whipstitching all found their way into temples, as did polished metal links and scallops.
But nowhere was the fashion connection more apparent than at Safilo Group, where an hourly runway show paired sunglasses with the ready-to-wear clothes that inspired them. Just as Giorgio Armani’s fall collection was full of graphic black-and-white prints, the eyewear incorporated the polkadot and floral patterns. Kate Spade styles featured the designer’s signature colorful stripes, either on the outsides of temples or lining the frames, and Bottega Veneta frames were made from molded plastic that looked like its signature woven leather bags.The company is expanding its portfolio on both ends, with its Liz Claiborne and JLo Sun hitting the $25 to $50 retail price point, and Boucheron frames retailing for $500.
At Luxottica Group, vice president of product and key accounts Jean Scott said she had strong buyer response to Chanel’s new crystal and camellia details, and the success of Ray Ban Junior, which launched quietly last summer. At $49 retail, the Ray Ban frames have been finding fans with teens as well as women with smaller faces.
This year, high-end specialty lines were shown collectively in The Suites, on the 34th floor of The Venetian hotel. Christian Roth, Oliver Peoples, L.A. Eyeworks, Charmant, Chopard, Sama and Judith Lieber were among those to show at the appointment-only suites. Here, innovations like “floating” lenses, laser-worked plastics, cutout bridges and hand-carved frames were commonplace.
“Designer licenses have introduced eyewear as a true fashion accessory and brought attention to design,” said Sama designer Brian Glasgow. “This has created room for companies like ours, because there are also consumers who don’t just go for the immediate gratification of a brand name.”
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