Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Milestones issue 03/23/2009

What goes into designer frames that makes them so covetable — and expensive? A starting point for designers plotting a new collection is Safilo’s color and materials office lined with dozens of sliding showcases that open to reveal an array of acetate and metal frames, tinted in colors across the entire spectrum.

This story first appeared in the March 23, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Variations on the theme include glossy or matte fi nishes, quirky two-tone combinations and marbleized effects. A plethora of colored lenses, at times mirrored, round out the selection.

Developing a collection can take up to two months and most fashion houses release up to four fl ashes a year, between sun and prescription frames.

Here’s a look at the process.

• After a briefing session among a designer and Safilo creative minds, the latter paste together a mood board based on colors, clippings of vintage eyewear, competitors’ frames, the designer’s current apparel collections, runway shots, etc.

• The collection’s foundations are laid.

• Initial sketches are shown to the designer.

• Once approved, a detailed drawing of the frame is sent to Safilo’s Padua headquarters. Machines laser-cut the various components based on the sketch, which are then hand-assembled, decorated and polished by skilled artisans. Special customized frames for Brad Pitt and Bono were made in this department.

• When the designer, who is usually heavily involved, gives the go ahead, the style is coded for production. Making a single pair requires between 40 and 100 steps.