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Focus | March 12, 2020

Jewels of my eyes

What happens when fashion, eyewear and luxury come together? The result leads us into a precious, provocative and fluid aesthetic dimension, where eyewear becomes jewellery to wear and jewels adorn our eyes

words Antonella Reina

In December of 2019, Mykita launched ‘Studio 11’, the latest offering by Mykita Studio – the Berlin brand’s top line, devoted to experimentation in complete design freedom. ‘Studio 11’ grabs our attention because it’s no longer eyewear, but instead has become a transformable accessory, whose minimal futuristic frames offer ample leeway for functional exploration. The creation features a range of precious metals (also available in a limited edition in the platinum variant), it can be worn as a headband, as a necklace and also as a face ornament. This represents a significant innovation for the contemporary eyewear scene, since it introduces and empowers one of the most interesting fashion trends of the moment: what has become known as ‘facial jewellery’. Facial jewellery is the latest frontier in the world of accessories and is particularly fertile ground for experimentation and creativity. This message is championed by a number of visionary fashion houses whose 2020 spring/summer catwalks showed models with faces decorated with rhinestone or pearl masks, fake tears, floral blinkers and maximalist frames. But who truly stands out? Schiaparelli does, under the new exciting artistic direction of Daniel Roseberry. The talented Texan designer has managed to create a special combination of eyewear and jewellery, presenting, among other accessories, a series of brass jewel frames featuring large, surreal shapes. The French maison has turned to its historical archives for inspiration, with particular attention being paid to an eye-shaped brooch decorated with a teardrop-shaped pearl, designed by the French artist Jean Cocteau for Elsa Schiaparelli in 1937. The eyes appear to take centre stage in this new aesthetic approach which traverses the worlds of make-up, jewellery and eyewear. Thus, frames take on a new role, moving away (possibly for the first time ever) from the fundamental principle of the purest design – whereby ‘form follows function’ – to become exclusive decorative elements in themselves.

This approach was pioneered by a generation of emerging designers, heralding an eclectic communicative style in which distinctly disparate forms of expression are seamlessly combined. Camille Moncomble, the Parisian designer of the Moncomble Paris jewellery brand of the same name, is one of its most revered creators. Last summer, she created the mini ‘Lacrima’ collection, featuring a set of conceptual jewels, artfully mimicking tears, to be worn on the cheekbones. In white gold and sapphires, in pink gold and diamonds or yellow gold with diamonds and sapphires, Camille’s tears explore the unconventional relationship between jewellery and face, evoking a touch of refinement and provocation. Even if eye jewellery appears as an absolute novelty today, there are those who, in the Olympus of luxury, have always designed eyeglasses or sunglasses frames as if they were veritable jewels. Big jewellery names, such as Cartier, Pomellato or Bulgari, have consistently put their know-how at the service of eyewear, by offering iconic models inspired by their strong heritage and constructed with sophisticated materials. In the same vein, many independent brands are producing limited editions made of solid gold, silver, or platinum, with further embellishment provided by precious gems. As such, function and form recover their essential nature, but reveal their most exclusive incarnation: the perfect combination of evocative inspiration, quality and impeccable workmanship.