“A good pair of sunglasses will make you look hot no matter what,” said Claire Goldsmith—and she should know. The London-based designer is the great-granddaughter of Oliver Goldsmith, who became London’s leading creator of high-fashion frames when he launched his label in 1926. The still-family-owned-and-run brand was favored by Audrey Hepburn (remember those black stunners in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Oliver Goldsmith), Michael Caine, Peter Sellers, and Grace Kelly, who had 42 pairs. Dior and Givenchy commissioned Goldsmith to make custom shades for the runway, and Vidal Sassoon enlisted OG to design the iconic pyramid glasses, shaped specifically to complement the hairstylist’s arched bangs, featured in a 1969 campaign. “[My grandfather] broke the mold,” asserted Claire. “And he built himself a reputation of being the best.”
He may have been the best, but Goldsmith’s business, which in its prime turned out eccentric styles like butterfly frames, winking shades, and Union Jack glasses, shuttered in 1985. He was forced to close his doors due to the original logomania movement and the popularity of sunnies embellished with the emblems of big brands (Gucci, Versace, and the like). “When I was little, I actually recall saying to my dad, ‘Can you get me a pair of Gucci sunglasses?’ And I just remember his face—he was horrified,” Claire said.
Years later, Claire found herself studying marketing at college, where she specialized in heritage brands. “Finally, I kind of naturally came around to thinking, Well, hang on a minute, my family has a heritage brand. Why don’t we make glasses anymore?” She couldn’t find a single reason why the market should be deprived of OG’s fit, craftsmanship, and utterly unique wares, so in 2005, Claire put Olivier Goldsmith back on the board. Today, OG offers vintage shapes as part of its Icons series, as well as ready-to-wear and custom-fit styles, all of which are handmade in England (just as her grandfather would have insisted). “Someone described us as the ‘best-kept secret in eyewear,’” Claire recalled. “But I’d really like to be less of a secret.”
After five years of reworking her kin’s eccentric designs, Claire had racked up her fair share of inspiration, and in 2010, she decided it was time to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and bow her own brand. CG Eyewear, a dynamic line of made-in-Italy frames, was born. “CG is a whole lot more personal and emotional,” Claire told me. “I would say with Oliver Goldsmith, I’m a narrator. But with Claire, I’m much more sensitive. I think it’s nice to have a playground of sorts where we can produce glasses at the same level of quality and care, but aesthetically, we’re free to do what we want.” Naturally, she’s influenced by her grandfather’s handwriting, but Claire insists that her own collection is younger, more colorful, and “you can clearly see that it does not look vintage.”
As far as her hopes for her fledgling brand, Claire offered, “It would be so lovely to get people to start buying some really good, well-designed eyewear. It’s such an important accessory. People always say, ‘Oh, my God, your lenses are amazing [compared with big-name designer styles]. Like, noticeably better!’ We just have to catch [clients] first, and then we’ve got them for life.” Seeing as Oliver Goldsmith and Claire’s line are stocked at more than 300 points of sale worldwide, including Barneys New York, it seems more and more sunglass connoisseurs are falling into her well-lensed net.
Fashion week kicks off today in Stockholm, so what better time than now to announce a super-cool partnership between two key fixtures of the Swedish fashion scene? The Malmö-based brands Altewaisaome and Sun Buddies have collaborated for Spring 2015 on a set of shades, seen exclusively here first, to be worn in the Altewaisaome runway show this Thursday.
Natalia Altewai and Randa Saome, the duo behind Altewaisaome, have been in business since 2009, and were named Designer of the Year at this year’s Elle Gala in Sweden. “We were approached by the guys [Hannes and Simon Hogeman of Sun Buddies and the menswear e-shop Très Bien] with the idea of making shades for women, and we thought it to be a perfect match between our two brands,” Altewai told Style.com. “Not only that, we thought it to be a really cool thing that Sun Buddies and the guys behind Très Bien wanted to do a product for women.”
As for the shades: “The style is totally new for us,” said Hannes. “It’s called Type 05. The materials are sourced with the Altewaisaome collection in mind in terms of colors. Also, we worked with a triple ‘sandwich’ acetate with black, white, and crystal, inspired by one of the stripes from the Altewaisaome collection.” All of the Altewaisaome shades come with gradient lenses that perfectly complement the oversize frame shape.
So much for slow August news days. Today’s WWD is reporting that LVMH is said to be eyeing a minority stake in Proenza Schouler, the New York label founded by Parsons grads Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough in 2002. The Proenza show, scheduled this season for September 10, is always one of the buzziest on the New York schedule, but this announcement will keep people talking all week long. LVMH and its rival Kering have been zeroing in on hot young designers lately. Alexander Wang landed at Kering’s Balenciaga in late 2012, and the company made a minority investment in Joseph Altuzarra’s burgeoning business last year. Christopher Kane is also in the Kering fold. Should the LVMH deal happen, Hernandez and McCollough would join recent recruits J.W. Anderson, now at Loewe, and shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood in Bernard Arnault’s growing luxury empire.
Why should we care?
A minority stake in Proenza Schouler’s business would potentially secure Hernandez and McCollough for future posts at LVMH should any of its current star designers leave their posts. I could see Lazaro and Jack in Paris, but my first thought is I hope it doesn’t play out that way. In a four-collections-a-year system, managing two huge brands is more than a designer can handle successfully. Yes, there are two designers in this case, but with all the international travel now required of creative directors, not to mention the other duties required of the face of a brand, it just seems untenable to me. Sure, Karl Lagerfeld does it at Chanel and Fendi, but with Hermès nominating Nadège Vanhee to replace Christophe Lemaire, who had been dividing his time between Hermès and his own label, doing double duty doesn’t seem to be the way the industry is moving.
More likely, Arnault and co. see the value in building up the Proenza Schouler brand. And lucky for them. When Nicolas Ghesquière left Balenciaga, he seemed like an obvious candidate for investment. He had the talent and the name recognition. But at the time, it was said that launching a brand from the ground up was prohibitively expensive, as in eight-figures expensive. (Ghesquière, of course, landed firmly on his feet at Vuitton, Arnault’s crown jewel.) Hernandez and McCollough have been around for 12 years and have used the 40 percent stake Andrew Rosen and John Howard made in their business (acquired from the Valentino Group) to their advantage, opening two Manhattan stores in the last two years and really digging into their accessories business.
Timing, as they say, is everything.
With a family name like Burch, if you’re going to make a foray into fashion, it had better be a good one. And with their newly launched sportswear brand, Trademark, sisters Pookie and Louisa (daughters of J. Christopher and former stepdaughters of Tory) have done just that. Since early this year, they’ve been turning out quietly arty clothes (Donald Judd’s work is a major Trademark design touchstone) that wouldn’t look out of place alongside Jil Sander or Céline, but which all clock in around $100 to $500 a piece. And now they are placing the finishing touches on their first boutique, set to bow in Soho at 95 Grand Street during the start of New York fashion week.
A brick-and-mortar location was always in the cards since, as Pookie says, “We really wanted to be able to express the entire world around Trademark. And the location was what we’d been looking for: There was foot traffic, but it was still more interesting. The space has a lot of special details about it, and it just had the right energy.” Swedish stark-meister Andreas Bozarth Fornell’s firm, Bozarthfornell Architects, whose client list reads like an industry who’s-cool (Acne Studios, Opening Ceremony, Kenzo), was brought in to design the shop. “It was all about having this beautiful, minimal space with clean lines that felt very modern but still a little bit nostalgic and touching on the classic elements,” says Louisa.
Also on the duo’s docket for autumn? Their first official ad campaign, lensed by British youngblood Jamie Hawkesworth. His beautifully uneasy fine-art work has earned him a commercial résumé that includes the likes of Jil Sander, J.W. Anderson, and Loewe—as well as the longtime admiration of the Burch sisters. For Trademark’s Fall imagery (which debuts exclusively on Style.com), Hawkesworth, stylist Sara Moonves, and a bare-bones crew headed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Models were street cast and shot in barns and against the rural backdrops of the prevalently Amish area. The end result is a dreamy tension between the pastoral and the decidedly present-day. “We thought the landscape was really special. And we also felt like we wanted to do something that Jamie was comfortable with and was excited about,” says Louisa. “And I think for Jamie, he loves to photograph real people.”
Trademark, 95 Grand Street, New York. For more information, visit trade-mark.com.
Since it launched in 2009, Made fashion week has increasingly been one of the highlights of the New York fashion week calendar. Its founders (pictured), Jenné Lombardo, Mazdack Rassi, and Keith Baptista, have continued to bring a slew of fresh talents (as well as more seasoned vets) into the fold, and this season is no different. They’ve just released their Spring 2015 lineup to Style.com, and they have 10 new additions—including Zana Bayne, Koonhor, Chris Gelinas’ CG, and Maison Kitsuné—to the Made programming this season.
“What really excites us is newness and visually stimulating shows or presentations,” Lombardo told Style.com. “With names like Zana Bayne, we’ve really enjoyed watching her trajectory—we’ve been fans from the sidelines. With others, like Maison Kitsuné, we have been friends with them for a long time and we’re just excited to have them joining us,” she said. They will be showing alongside returning labels like Public School, Tim Coppens, Jeremy Scott, and Sophie Theallet.
Here’s the full list of shows and dates, below:
Thursday, September 4
Lexus Design Disrupted: Gareth Pugh
Friday, September 5
Cushnie et Ochs
Saturday, September 6
Sunday, September 7
Devon Halfnight Leflufy
Monday, September 8
Olivier Saillard: “Models Never Talk”
Tuesday, September 9
Wednesday, September 10
Maria ke Fisherman