Focus | January 15, 2020

Alchemy – Matter and soul

The new aesthetic codes for glasses come from unexpected encounters. It’s a time of transformation

words Alessandra Albarello

When we talk about alchemy, we automatically think of the philosopher’s stone that would have allowed bold and enterprising figures like Cagliostro to turn any metal into gold. Beyond the magical aura of the legend, it is true however, that the genesis of any creation inevitably passes through the transformation of materials and through continuous experimentation. This is also true in the eyewear industry. Research often crosses into unknown territory, combining different sensibilities and scenarios, to arrive at models that focus predominantly on uniqueness and telling a story. Recognising a particular idiom and recognising themselves in a specific narrative and aesthetic language are the main qualities defining the new consumer – since glasses are made not only of matter, but also of
spirit and soul.

In light of this, Rigards is introducing two new models created in collaboration with the Chinese designer Uma Wang, focusing for UW5 on the simplicity of a round form and an antique effect obtained with the exclusive Time Machineprocess. But it is with UW10 (in the opening picture), (The Shanghai) – created to celebrate the first ten years of the Wang brand – that Rigards flies high: to take us once again to other alluring landscapes. Its concept of alchemy is a true journey that visually connects inspirations, places and cultures which only appear to be distant from each other: The vibrant chromatic suggestions of Pompeii’s mosaics, miraculously preserved intact across 2000 years of history, with the monumental stained glass windows of Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and with Shanghai’s incredible Art Deco windows: sumptuous vestiges of the past of a city that, unsurprisingly, in the 1930s was called the Paris of the East. Made of metal, the UW10 model is equipped with side shields in eco-conscious bio-acetate and is available in five colour versions.

Hoet Costume U1 model in titanium and polyamide

Considered a virtuous example of a cutting-edge company thanks to an innate talent for design and for the continuous research which also led to the creation of an innovative material like mylon, the Berlin brand Mykita has chosen to dialogue with the world of fashion to launch the Helmut Lang eyewear collection in 2020. Previewed in September 2019 at New York’s Spring/Summer 2020 fashion shows, both the HL001 models with their squarer shape and the HL002 models – a reinterpretation of aviator glasses, stem from a futuristic idea of a wraparound visor and are composed of four single lenses in contrasting colours recalling the palette of the Austrian designer’s prêt-à-porter collection, like pink and neon yellow. A rigorous minimalist and refined stylistic code made unusual by the colour choices, perfectly interpreted by Mykita’s team, led by Moritz Krueger, who managed to tune in with Mark Thomas, creative director of Helmut Lang, by sharing the same stylistic vocabulary. Once again, it was the alchemy of souls and different realities to make the difference.

In the case of Hoet however, materials merge together. The happy outcome of a search which has pushed the Belgian brand to explore all the potential of 3D printing (a promising frontier for eyewear), with the Cabrio line on the one hand and on the other hand, the infinite qualities of titanium, with the Hoet Couture line. The result is the arrival at an ideal and high-class combination: a harmonious synthesis of polyamide and titanium. This perfect pairing is celebrated by the new Hoet Costume collection, which makes its debut on the market with the 3D-printed U1 and U2 models, offered in three calibres and in the classic round and panto shapes. In line with its ongoing commitment to sustainability Hoet has decided to make them only on customer order, thus respecting the principle of responsible and ecological production: to avoid unnecessary waste. Ethics and aesthetics – could this be the true, unique and possible alchemy of the future?