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PARIS — The bigger the better was the can’t-miss fashion message at Silmo, the eyewear show that ended its four-day run at the Port de Versailles exhibition halls here Oct. 24.

While styles continued to increase in size, frames were less flamboyant, resulting in cleaner more elegant looks.

“Frames are very big,” said Felice Dee Muchnick, owner of the Felice Dee Eyewear shop in New York.

Muchnick said eyewear sales were “very good” and that she would increase her budget to include more contemporary and colorful looks.

“Multiple tones and lots of bright colors are a strong look,” she said.

Anna Bjõrnsson, owner of Gleraugnaverlunin, a contemporary eyewear boutique based in Reykjavik, Iceland, said, “Next summer will be even more colorful. Today, eyewear is worn as jewelry.”

Bjõrnsson said she would increase her budget by 25 percent.

Visitor traffic to Silmo was up 2 percent to 43,484. Vendors were upbeat, citing a strong showing of Japanese, American and Canadian buyers eager to add large frames to their assortments.

“Big shapes that are elegant and clean with finely finished details and less-loaded looks are key,” said Maurizio Marcolin, chief executive officer of Italy’s Marcolin Group.

Marcolin feted its new Tom Ford signature eyewear collection. That booth was the buzz of the show, but it wasn’t the only newcomer. Just Cavalli launched its eyewear collection with Marcolin, while Montblanc presented its first full women’s eyewear line. Dolce & Gabbana also showed frames under a new license with Luxottica Group, based in Italy.

While fashionable frames have become a must-have accessory, sportswear labels are upping the technology quotient.

The North Face, for example, introduced its first optical hybrid for the winter ski season, a combination of goggles and sunglasses dubbed Thin Air. The style has elastic straps for a snug fit, three-dimensional nose pads and a removable foam that molds the face and prevents fogging.

“Skiers and board riders will no longer have to decide between wearing goggles or sunglasses,” Marcolin said. “It’s a new eyewear category.”

Alain Marhic, artistic director for Quiksilver’s watch and eyewear division based in Hossegor, France, also emphasized the importance of technical performance in sportswear looks.

This story first appeared in the October 31, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Although fashion aspects are very important, it’s essential to focus on technical aspects,” Marhic said, adding that Quiksilver was reducing its product range.

The smaller range will offer customizing options for buyers, such as choice of colors, logos and detailing on branches. Marhic said 2005 sales for Quiksilver’s eyewear division would increase by as much as 27 percent.

Pascal Jaulent, president of Paris-based Face à Face, noted that the firm is playing with the architectural aspects of frames, such as metal and plastic combos and three-dimensional effects. Jaulent said the Lagoon II, a large frame that slightly contours the face and sells for $375 at retail, was a bestseller at the show. The eyewear firm also launched its first jewelry line, a selection of necklaces ranging at retail between $38 for a plastic silhouette to $390 for a silver and glass piece.

Many manufacturers reported strong sales for corrective eyewear.

Theo, an Antwerp, Belgium-based eyewear manufacturer known for avant-garde corrective eyewear, launched its first sunglass collection for around $400 retail. It features a colorful array of acetate frames created with Belgian women’s wear designer Christoph Broich.

“If eyewear is now the ultimate fashion accessory, we may as well bring in the designers,” said Theo president Somers Wim.

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