Oops I Did It Again

Silmo Ceremony where Lucas de Staël won the Silmo d’Or for the Best Optical frame.

There’s something about a repeat winner.  Think Serena Williams, Tom Hanks, Peyton Manning, Lebron James, Meryl Streep.  You can rely on such people to give you an amazing performance again and again.  In the world of eyewear, Lucas de Staël has become a repeat winner, as he walks away once again with best ophthalmic frame design award from this year’s Silmo d’Or – the eyewear version of the Academy Awards. For a run-down of his previous Silmo award, see our blog posting of Oct. 17, 2012.

We’re proud to say that we’ve been working with De Staël for a long time. First, he brought us his innovative Undostill and Suprematic lines, which revolutionized the industry by creating frames from a single piece of steel with no hinges.  His next adventure was to craft frames of out of leather, including his Minotaure line, made of  cow skin, and separate collection made of goat-skin, which he dubbed “Monsieur Seguin”. The frames have hinged temples and high calibre stainless steel between layers of leather for durability. But don’t think boring leather shades like in shoe wear.  Think attention-getting mod colors.

Production of Minotaure cow-leather line at Lucas de Staël studio in Paris.

Fronts from Minotaure line.

His latest innovation is eyewear made of genuine stone like granite, slate and pearl schist. He has two lines using thin stone cuts, “Stratus” and “Petrus”. “Stratus” uses a combination of stone, steel and leather. “Pertus” frames have a stone front and stone temples. The the material is so thin that it actually bends.  Again, de Staël used a metal skeleton to provide support while minimizing weight.

Presentation of “Pertus” at Silmo 2014

Lucas de Staël and Onega Astaltsova at his studio in Paris

Fascinated by this unparalleled ingenuity, we visited de Staël’s studio-factory in Paris to see the manufacturing process for ourselves.  The site is as innovative as the eyewear it produces.  The two-story glass building nestled between two typical city buildings is light, spacious and well-organized.  Inside are machinery and tools created by de Staël and his team.  They have to create their own because no other technology can manipulate the natural frame materials in this unique way or produce such meticulous results.  For example, the layers of the frame have to line up with a minuscule 0.05 mm tolerance.

Production

Sheet of slate for “Petrus” line gives matté finish to the frame.

De Staël’s two new stone collections, “Petrus” and his “Minotaure” leather line will be coming to Providence Optical soon.

Providence Optical Inspires Russian Eyecare Professionals… again!

As some of you might know, we were named as one of the Top 10 Independent Optical Retail of USA 2014 by INVISION, a magazine for eyecare professionals. Following the news, we were invited to share some essential advices and tips with optical professionals of Russia by ОПТИЧЕСКИЙ Magazine (OpticMagazine). The story appeared in September issue of 2014 publication. 

 

 

Spectacles fit for a Doge – Sunglasses in 18th century Venice

For the first time in eyeglass history, the exhibition “Spectacles Fit for a Doge”, which took place in Venice, gathered together spectacles from museums and private collections to trace a part of the history of eyeglasses and sunglasses.

Detail of the groove and silk thread on these sunglasses made of very light-colored horn and green mineral lenses.

Venetian opticians, 120 years before the rest of the world discovered  the danger of ultra-violet rays, produced emerald green color glass to create sunglasses that totally stopped these rays. During the 18th century in Venice, the nobility and Commanders da Mar (of the sea) wore sunglasses to protect their eyes from the glare of reflected light while navigating the waters of the lagoon or the open sea.

Considering the good number of seventeenth-century eyeglasses now held in museums and private collections, we can say that the manufacturing of colored glass for protective purposes was widely practiced from the second half of the seventeenth century on. Knowledge about the composition and diffusion of light was still in its infancy, and it was not till the end of the 17th century that Isaac Newton (1642-1727) demonstrated that white light was made up of all the other colors. A few years later, the discovery of ultraviolet light (UV) took place in 1801, still several decades before its dangerous properties were finally recognized in 1870.

Goldoni-type eyeglasses o Case with double temple pieces. 18th century.

Green was the most commonly used color, which was produced in various shades: yellow-green, meadow-green, sea green and emerald green. Made in furnaces on Murano, this unmistakable glass allows us today to distinguish between factory-made goods and those made by Venetian opticians in the past.

 

 

In the 20th century, green lenses were formulated to create G15, which were first used to reduce the amount of glare and increase comfort for pilots. G15 meant that there was only  15% of light transmission through the lens while it blocked UV reds and UVB rays. It wasn’t long before the popularity of this color spread from pilots to anyone with an outdoor lifestyle. We have taken into consideration the history of this color while designing our own line of eyewear.

Fran by Providence Optical in Crystal Gray.

 

 

A New Outlook

Our take on Chagall’s “The Love Story”

Chagall’s original, “Над городом”, 1914-18

We just can’t help ourselves.  We had so much fun with our Magritte-inspired window that we had to feature another artist in our newest window display.  This time we drew our inspiration from Belorussian-born French artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985).  His work is the very essence of fantasy.  He didn’t belong to any one artistic movement, but rather combined elements of cubism, symbolism, expressionism and surrealism into his own unique style.  His paintings contain conventional elements like people, flowers, landscapes and buildings, but instead of copying a real scene, he constructed fantasy tableaus by combining elements that have an emotional connection.  The people and objects in his works usually are placed in positions that defy the laws of nature and physics.

Guest artist Ieva Liepina with the background of our Chagall-inspired window

Such is the case with the couple floating above the landscape in Chagall’s painting “The Love Story” (or “Over the Town” is another name), which is the inspiration for our latest display.  We confess that we took some liberties to make it our own.  With help from artist friend Ieva Liepina, from Riga, Latvia, we created a cityscape of Providence to replace the rural landscape in Chagall’s original.  Our airborne lovers look a lot like his, but we gave them modern clothes, while keeping the flowing lines and romantic style of the original – after all, they are lovers.  Of course, there had to be eyeglasses involved, but we were very restrained.  We chose round American Optical sunglasses for our male lover because of their timeless, classic appeal.  Since we have the luxury of working in 3 dimensions, we echoed the clouds in the sky behind the lovers with fluffy puffs suspended over our lovers.

Providence Optical building subtly highlighted in the background cityscape

If you look closely, you’ll see in the background cityscape that we highlighted our building with brighter colors that make it look like the sun is shining on just that one spot, and we put a diminutive pair of eyeglasses above to identify it in a subtle way.  If you have a good eye (pardon the pun) for detail, you’ll also see that we set a birdhouse in the foreground as a playful echo of the buildings in the cityscape, and to give our masterpiece a more 3-dimensional feel.

It was a lot of work, but it was a labor of love.  We hope you’ll stroll by and take a look.  Better yet, poke your head in and tell us what you think of it.

Focus on: Providence Optical

We would like to share a blog, written by  on July 28, 2014 for InDowncity Providence website. Thank you, Erick.

Nested between the bright pastel window displays of Craftland’s new location and the artfully ad-hoc presentation of RISD’s student-run gallery, it might be a bit of a challenge to spot Providence Optical—if it weren’t for the beautifully massive wire-rimmed glasses that hang above the shop’s Westminster Street entrance.

Stepping inside on a steamy summer morning, one might be surprised to find a quiet bustling throughout the air-conditioned store. Customers’ eyes slowly move from spectacle to spectacle, closely examining the hundreds of varieties in materials, accents, shapes, and colors. Other patrons sit patiently in the comfy lounge chairs, taking in the array of glass specimens.

Welcomed in, we were given a crash course on the summer and fall’s hottest trends: Augusto Valentini spectacles paired a matte finish with an elegant gold trim, while Providence Optical’s latest creations sparkled with stainless steel rivets.

Colors seemed to be en vogue, with every glass display boasting a number of bright neon greens, oranges, electric blues, or other captivating colors. Men’s pairs took to the colors with a dignified sort of diffidence, choosing to display the fluorescent colors along the tamer inside rims of the glasses rather than the outsides.

More and more pairs were brought out, carefully detailed to us, and ushered back onto their display cases while the grand finale neared in the form of vintage ’80′s eyewear. Absurdly large (in that perfectly quirky way) frames approached, showing off beautiful real enamel detailing flush with clean metal skeletons. The unworn finds—$75—were certainly a show-stopper.

And just like that, our exclusive crash course was over. The spectacles sat neatly on their display cases or safely in their shelves, and as we grabbed our bags to head out we couldn’t help but feel as if it would be impossible to choose just one pair from the many we saw that day.

From the cases upon cases of unique and downright beautiful spectacles, though, we knew that many would visit and find their perfect pair of glasses that day, and hoped many others would continue to find their glass-soulmates, right inside that little shop.

Safe and Stylish in the Sun!

As Jackie Samoraj from Home Shopping Network suggested, we would like to share our best tips for being safe and stylish under the sun. With these minimalistic outfit we covered major trends of the season: whites, floral, black&white, graphics and sport trends. Don’t forget your face and body sunscreen and if you are a contact lens wearer, Acuvue Oasys will be the best option because they are the only contacts offering UV protection and moister.

1. White and pink RI baseball cap by Coastalista. Find this company’s hat at your local airport with your city name on it.

2. Providence Optical sunglasses, $187 with mineral glass lenses in gray/green.

3. Floral Bag by Leadsports.

4. Nail polish. You can play with the 3 different colors to match your outfit or accessory.

5. Providence Optical dress.

6. Providence Optical microfiber lens cleaning cloth and cleaning spray.

7. White-Floral sneakers by Paul Smith.

8. Downcity Flair, collect until August 28th the buttons from all Downcity merchants to win a good prize.

 

 

Mad about Hue

 

Tons of colors for Summer

Now that the summer season is officially here, it’s time to think about your new summer look for the office, at play or when you’re trying to impress others at social gatherings.  There are 10 distinct trends and we offer a bit of advice on how to pair eyewear with your outfits for maximum impact.

1- Color inside the frame creates a subtle flash of hue when you tilt your head.

1- Pants suits:  Of course you want to look sophisticated when you wear a suit, but then you might find you can’t resist this summer’s offering of colorful stripes, solids and florals.  To project that executive aura, choose a classy tortoise frame that features speckles of a bright hue mixed in.  Or, if you want to show a little spunk, go for a frame that is a solid black or brown on the exterior, but with a splash of color on the inside of the frame that shows when you tilt your head.

2- This fluorescent pink frame will go with your crispy white shirt

2- Classic White:  What could be more quintessentially summer than white?  But let’s face it, white can be b-o-r-i-n-g all by itself.  Spice it up with frames in a fluorescent shade and you will turn heads wherever you go.

 

 

 

3- Double color front for Pastels

3- Pastels:  The essence of delicacy in the summer palette, pastels needs a little help to keep them from falling into the category of dull.  Opt for eyewear with double colors to balance the understated tone of a pastel outfit.

 

 

 

4- Clean and refined matte nylon frame for sport inspired trend.

4- Sport Motifs:  The fashion runways this year featured sports-inspired fare such as varsity jackets, tennis-inspired dresses, baseball caps and stripy trims reminiscent of jogging-wear.  Follow through on this theme with lightweight nylon frames in playful colors.

 

 

 

5- Solid bright color frame with distinct shape to balance a classy black and white outfit.

5- Black and White:  This summer classic projects a clean, crisp look, but it risks being a little too unimaginative.  Add contrast and an element of playful shock with brightly colored frames in an edgy shape.

 

 

 

6- Matte finish available in different frames materials will tone down iridescent hues of your outfit.

6- Iridescent:  We love shiny, sparkly stuff for the summer, but it can be a little “too too” if your accessories also are shiny.  Tone it down a little with matte eyewear that balances your look.

 

 

 

 

7- Eyewear with a single distinctive line to go with any mesh clothes

7- Mesh:  Trendy and cool for the summer, mesh has a complex array of overlapping strong lines.  To avoid creating competing drama – or the opposite extreme:  a whimpy counterpart – choose eyewear with a single distinctive line.

 

 

 

8- Wear skin tone pastels eyewear with bright graphic sweaters.

8- Luxe Sweatshirts/Sweaters:

Another great look for this summer is a sweater or sweat shirt with bright splashes of color.  Don’t set up a competition with equally bright frames.  Instead, opt for understated eyewear in skin tone or a pale pastel shade.

 

 

This deep blue makes a bold yet classy statement.

Blue for Guys:  Great news for guys who are tired of elegant and classy, but somewhat boring, black accessories:  Blue is the new black.  Go for a strong look with navy or dark blue, opt for a more playful, sporty look with bright blue, or put on a sophisticated air with a distinctive but understated gray-blue.

 

 

9- Wear skinny lines, thin glasses with a trend.

9- Bold Geometrics:  Nothing says “fun” like a summer ensemble with a color block pattern or strong geometric shape in bold colors.  To echo, but not outdo, the look with your eyewear, choose thin frames with a distinctive look, either in a complementary bold tone or in an understated neutral hue.

10- With his Google Glass, Google launched the trend of wearable technology.

10-Wearable Technology:

 Available in 5 colors, Google Glass will definitely suits with any outfits.  Your Glass will follow you anywhere and will made technology available any time. The eyewear by Google has already reached the upper echelons of influence. It was featured in Vogue Magazine and has accessorized coral and turquoise garments at the Diane Von Furstenberg Runway Show during New York’s Fashion Week for Spring 2013.

“Million Dollar Arm”: Two Thumbs up for the Eyewear

The Emerson is sophisticated, but that doesn’t mean expressionless!

Disney’s newest release, “Million Dollar Arm,” has just hit the big screen, grossing about $10.5 in its first weekend.  While the movie itself – a true life story about a down-on-his-luck sports agent  seeking new baseball pitching talent in India – gets mixed reviews, actor Aasif Mandvi, who plays the sports agent’s business partner, gets a big thumbs up for his eyewear.

What are those chic executive frames he’s wearing?  The classy “Emerson,” which is part of OGI’s Seraphin product line. Mandvi sports (pun intended) the tortoise shell color option, but this frame also comes in a sophisticated black, an elegant dark tortoise and an understated mottled gray.  “Emerson” is one of our most popular frames, which just goes to show that Providence citizens are fashion savvy.

The Emerson frame’s close cousin: OGI 7150

If you like the Emerson, but have a smaller face or want more color, consider OGI’s model 7150, which has a similar front and is available in conservative black, tortoise or mottled gray or in a beautiful upscale tortoise flecked with blue and paired with beautiful translucent blue temples.

“Niles” by OGI Seraphin is the antithesis of Emerson — for those who like curves and thin lines.

 

If you’re not a fan of the geek chic or executive look, OGI offers an amazing array of other shapes, including ovals, rectangles and cat eyes.  You can find both metal and plastic options and one of the industries rarest hybrids:  Plastic frames with nosepads.  OGI even makes parent-child pairs of eyewear so your little one can wear glasses just like yours.  Come explore with us!

Passion for Eyewear Fashion – Asian Style

DIOPS expo in Daegu, South Korea was colorful and just plain fun!

We’ve just returned from the annual Daegu International Optical Show (DIOPS 2014) in South Korea, to which we were invited as VIP participants.  It was obvious as we approached the expo site that this city is in love with eyewear.  Bus stops, buildings and even light poles are decorated with giant eyeglasses.  Maybe it’s because major eyewear factories are only 3 kilometers away from the expo site, but still, you don’t see that kind of excitement in other cities with nearby factories.

Even light poles in Daegu celebrate eyewear.

Eyewear bus stop in Daegu

And it’s not just this city.  Asia itself seems to be in love with eyewear.  Even people who don’t need glasses wear them.  Celebrities have led the trend for more than three years by wearing fashion frames with no lenses.  They have a particular passion for big, chunky frames that make a statement.

One of the challenges for Asians and ethnic Asians living in the West is that American and European eyewear manufacturers don’t take the Asian facial geometry into consideration when they design their frames.  That is, until now.  Because Asia is the fastest growing market for the eyewear industry, Western manufacturers have begun to redesign some of their most popular models to fit the Asian facial structure more comfortably, with different nosepads, front lines and tilt.  Oliver Peoples was a leader in this trend, and Ray Ban soon jumped on the band wagon in a big way – 44% of its export models offer a version specially altered for an Asian fit.

Thin, lightweight, translucent temples with Ultem symbols.

Most popular eyewear shape in Asia in ultra-thin Ultem.

Though we in America tend to think of the latest fashions as emanating from New York, Paris or Rome, in the eyewear industry, Asia plays a leading role.  South Korea, for example, which just happens to be the fourth strongest economy in the world, is the birthplace of Ultem – a super-flexible, lightweight, heat-resistant (think sunglasses sitting on the dashboard) material that has revolutionized eyeglass frames.  Because of its superior strength, manufactures can now create ultra-thin frames, which previously could only be achieved using metal. Ultem also offers an amazing array of color possibilities ranging from transparent to multicolored.  Best of all, it’s a relatively inexpensive material.  Frank Custom and DASA both produce frames made of Ultem, which you can see and try on here at Providence Optical.  We also have a great collection of exciting Paul Hueman (South Korean) acetate and metal frames in sleek, trendy styles, offered at amazingly low prices.

Spring and Magritte: New Beginnings

 

Magritte demonstrates that, contrary to our assumption, maybe day and night can co-exist.

It’s sometimes hard to believe spring is here with these cold temperatures and the continuing threat of snow, but we are oh, so ready to put winter behind us.  Spring is a time of renewal, and as new life springs up from the earth, we start to feel new possibilities. Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte (1898-1967) challenged people to let go of assumptions and consider not what is, but what could be.  His paintings, some of which are currently on display in a special exhibition at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, depict ordinary objects and normal people arranged in ways that seem impossible.  But are they?  Maybe Magritte is really telling us to rethink what is possible.

Street view of our display

Dress shoes of Magritte’s period give our mannequins the ability to take a stroll in style. Who needs legs anyway?

Inspired by the MOMA exhibition, we’ve created a new window display that we think Magritte would approve of.  It features a sky backdrop found in many of Magritte’s paintings and men in the Magritte style – complete with suit, period dress shoes and bowler hat.  We chose Arnold Schwarzenegger’s visage as the face of the men.  In a twist reminiscent of Magritte’s style, we pulled apart the pieces of the men and put them near each other, but not quite together.  What does it symbolize?  Well, that’s in the eye of the beholder.  Surrealism is all about what the image means to you.