Austrian eyewear firm Silhouette is well known for the technical expertise of its products, especially its super-lightweight frames, but its designs, though stylish, have rarely been directional. That changed last year with the start of a project to work with established designers on limited-edition sunglasses collections that would push boundaries. One of the first in recent years, with London-based German twins Felder Felder, produced a distinctive cat-eye style that was modelled at London Fashion Week and embraced by the Shoreditch set.
This year’s collaboration has a completely different feel. Silhouette has teamed up with Wes Gordon, a rising and affable New York designer whose work has a distinctly uptown slant but with a modern edge – he takes highly luxurious fabrics and gives them a little casual, even grungy slouch while retaining their clean lines, perfect for successful working women in off-duty moments. His CV includes a stint with Oscar de la Renta and studying at Central Saint Martins in London, both formative to his outlook.
He spent time with the designers and technicians at Silhouette’s factory, “trying to create something a bit different”, he says, “that would reflect my love of retro but also look to the future”. At first glance, the round, plain style in pale shades of pink and sky blue are Silhouette’s key eyewear colours, but they are also an echo of Gordon’s clothing collection; they are much more technical than their 1970s forebears, without any frame at all and with a super-lightweight bridge, adjustable nose-pieces and equally light, flexible arms in titanium. An interesting feature – time-consuming to construct – is the way each lens is hand-bevelled for perfect smoothness and then subtly hand-painted around the inner lens with an edge of colour, like a fine leather handbag.
Perhaps because it is so light, the style seems to flatter most face shapes. Colours (in four shades, second picture) run from classic grey or nude pink (the latter giving quite low protection) to bright, 1970s nostalgia in soft olive green or ocean blue. Colours are carefully chosen too – a gilded shade is used to tone with green. Only 1,000 pairs of each shade have been made, at £250 each, available online this week.