Introducing AHLEM Eyewear
Eyeworks London speaks to Ahlem Manai-Platt founder and designer of Ahlem Eyewear
When was your brand established?
On paper, the company was established in January 2014. First designs and prototypes were in my hands some months later, where I was so lucky as to sell the whole collection to Colette, just from prototypes. We did our first Silmo in Paris in September 2014. Now we visit Silmo in Paris with our Fall/Winter collections and Opti in Munich and Vision Expo East in New York with our Spring/Summer collections.
Who is behind your designs?
I design every piece in the collection. I draw the shapes in my much beloved notebooks and then these are interpreted by my factory into technical drawings. But every decision regarding shapes, materials and colours are made by me.
Where is your eyewear designed and made?
I design my glasses everywhere! I do of course have my Ahlem studio in Venice Beach in LA, where I have my desk, but for example, the upcoming fall collection I drew on board a plain from New York to Los Angeles.
My collection is then produced in Oyonnax in France, where we have one factory producing our acetates and another producing our metal frames.The obvious reason for producing in France is my french background, as I was born and raised in Paris. But another very important factor is that the "Made in France" title is protected. That means that governmental controllers visit unannounced all productions, that proclaimed that their production is made in France. Should there be any irregularities, pre fabricated parts from Asia, for instance, the factory loses the right put "Made in France" on their product. This insures that I can stand behind each and every single frame coming from our factories. Our artisans are experts that have knowledge and experience handed down from older generations. Their ability to transform my design into a physical product, and their pride in regards of quality is my constant pillar of strength in my production.
What materials are used?
In our frames, we both work in Mazzuchelli acetates, vintage acetates, palladium and gold / white gold / rose gold. Our sun lenses are produced by the french company Christian Dalloz, who have invented a new material, called Cridal. This very exclusive material is a combination of CR39, normally used in optical lenses, for their enormous optical quality and clearness and Polycarbonate, that is the most impact resistant material in our business. So you have a sun lens that both is exceptional clear to see through, that reflects colours 100% correctly and that will not break.
Do you have any famous fans of your product?
To mention a few, Beyonce (bought several Ahlem frames in Colette), Kate Moss, Karlie Kloss, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, and Jessica Alba.
How would you summarise the style of your eyewear?
The collection is exclusive, yet chic. Shapes might look classical at first glance but when on the face, they will surprise and be interesting. All materials are the best you can get, every design and production detail has been thought through many times by myself and by my French artisans. The style is classical, but progressive. It will be that piece of eyewear that you will keep for many years, and take in use again and again. And even end up with giving forward to your children, like you would with a beautiful watch.
What is your brand philosophy?
Ahlem's philosophy and inspiration is based on the German design movement Bauhaus. At the Bauhaus school in Dessau, students were taught that every design should build on three pillars; aesthetics, functionality and quality. This has been my red thread when designing and producing, as I truly believe that eyewear needs to be beautiful and suit your face, the quality of the frame should be impeccable and the functionality should be mirrored in how good our frames feel when you wear them. And if I say so myself, I would say that we have succeeded in this goal.
Why did you choose to stock your product at Eyeworks London?
We love working with stores, that understand our designs and design philosophy. This often becomes clear in the first minutes the collection is shown to potential customers. The young and progressive staff of Eyeworks London understood my brand right away. And they worked very professionally, when choosing which frames should be a part of the first Ahlem selection in their store. They obviously know their customers well, and were very clear in how they wanted the collection to be presented in store. That has shown to be very successful as we have had the perfect start with our partnership with Brenda and her wonderful team.