Gold  Rush
The Silmo d’Or awards continue to grow in stature. The awards, which cover more than a dozen optical product categories have an added cache of credibility since they are chosen from nominations by an international jury of more than 30 optical-industry journalists including our own Marge Axelrad and Gloria Nicola. The excitement of winning can energize a career and a company to new heights. Such was the case with one of this year’s excitable boys— Jason Kirk (pictured) of Kirk Originals: “Having been designing and producing collections for 11 years, it is a huge honour to receive such industry recognition.”

Honors for optical frames style and design also went to Zenka for its Twini model. Essilor received a Silmo d’Or for its new Varilux Ipseo lens. Other Silmo d’Ors included Silhouette’s M 8075 style and the Adidas Aventure in the sport category. Pro Design’s Zenith 7319-22 (pictured) featured in the November 20/20 What’s New won for its advanced frame technology. The Expert by Activisu won in the Equipment contest and the contact lens award was delivered to AMO for Complete Rapidcare.
Ciao Diesel!
It was party time in Italia. Diesel recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a concert and runway show at Bassano del Grappa (VI) in Italy, the hometown of Diesel’s chairman Renzo Rosso.

To mark the occasion, Sàfilo chair Vittorio Tabacchi, presented Rosso with a pair of personalized sunglasses emblazoned with two images on the temples: on the right, the 25th anniversary logo, and on the left, Rosso’s initials. The sunglass design is similar to the “Sister Yes” style, which was the first major success spawned by the partnership between Sàfilo and Diesel. The sunglasses were made in two versions—black and crystal—and come with cases detailed with an engraving of the 25th anniversary logo.

With some 30,000 people joining in the festivities, guests were entertained with a concert that included performances by techno musician Moby, Italian pop stars Jovanotti and Collettivo Soleluna, international DJ Claudio Coccoluto and Howie B (formerly of the Backstreet Boys). Rosso, who served as master of ceremonies, celebrated with a celebrity packed audience that included models Naomi Campbell, Megan Gale and Nina Moric, Italian pop musician Zucchero and Santo Versace (brother of late designer Gianni Versace). A retrospective runway show took place during the daylong event, which highlighted the design evolution of Diesel products. —Jackie Micucci

Newlyweds. She may not be the sharpest crayon in the box but 1. Jessica Simpson and hubby 2. Nick Lachey at least look sharp in their Marchon sunglasses. Simpson wears Donna Karan 9711, color 705 and Lachey sports DKNY 9717, color 215. The two singers have gotten a notoriety boost thanks to their successful reality show on MTV “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica”… Pucker up. 3. Catherine Zeta-Jones wears the Sama Kiss frame in her latest movie “Intolerable Cruelty”… Sunglasses and the city. 4. Sarah Jessica Parker, star of HBO’s “Sex and the City,” was spotted strolling with baby James in a pair of Kate Spade’s Griffon/s from Sàfilo… Educated guess. 20/20 was recently sent this photo of 5. Johnny Depp by a retailer wanting to know whose frames the future Willy Wonka is sporting. We discovered it’s the Freeway by Shuron… Super duper. Super model 6. Kate Moss sports a pair of Oliver Peoples style Vanadis… What a boy wants. 7. Oliver James, who appeared in the movie “What a Girl Wants,” wears the Bollé Downdraft with lemon lenses… Shiny happy Peoples. Out and about in their Oliver Peoples’ shades are comedian 8. Ellen DeGeneres in the Aero sunglass, Regis’ TV counterpart 9. Kelly Ripa in the Impala and arbiter of Oscar attire 10. Melissa Rivers also in the Aero… Bright lights, big city. In a recent episode of NBC’s “Las Vegas,” actor 11. Josh Duhamel (who plays Johnny McCoy) was spied in a pair of Gucci 1450/S from Sàfilo… Samur-eye warrior. 12. Tom Cruise, whose new movie “The Last Samurai” hits theaters this month, wears Matsuda 10651 from Optical Shop of Aspen… Likeable. “90210” alum 13. Jennie Garth, star of the sitcom “What I Like About You,” wears Saks Fifth Avenue 10/s in Havana from Sàfilo… Ace in the hole. Persol from Luxottica was a sponsor of the Fifth Annual Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic held recently at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. At the event are 14. Sylvester Stallone in Persol sunglasses style PO 2131 587/7I, 15. David Arquette in Persol style PO 2151 513/48 and 16. Mark Wahlberg in Persol style PO 2692 CC/31… All in the family. 17. The cast of NBC’s new sitcom “Happy Family” is seen here decked out in styles from Bollé and Serengeti: Christine Baranski in Serengeti Arabella, Tyler Francavilla in Bollé Pharmium, Jeff Davis in Bollé Pharmium with sandstone lenses, Melanie Paxson in Serengeti Da Vinci and Susan Gibney in Serengeti Alassio… I love the ’80s. Duran Duran band members 18. Simon LeBon and 19. Nick Rhodes are still stylin’ wearing shades from Marchon. Looking notoriously good are LeBon in Calvin Klein 420 in watch gold and Rhodes in Fendi 289M in satin black. The band is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a 16-city tour that began last month… Miami nice. 20. Ashley Williams Scott of the NBC sitcom “Good Morning Miami” wears a pair of Stella McCartney sunglasses style STM6S in color 05W8 from Sàfilo. —JM
Heartful of Chrome
Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has gone through some amazing life (and body) style changes in these last few years. He has dropped half his body weight. He now sports designer jeans (cut in petite women’s sizes) rather than flab-filerbustering Kaftans. At times his passion as a photographer nearly outshines his career as a clothier. And he no longer wears the thick black plastic sunglass frames that were his signature specs during the ’70s and ’80s. In this recent flick he’s sporting a pair of dramatic Chrome Hearts frames from Optical Shop of Aspen.  —James J. Spina
Go (South)West
When Signature Eyewear decided to its launch its Dakota Smith line in New Mexico a commitment was made to help improve vision for children in the state. Towards that goal a partnership was made with the Futures for Children mentorship program.

“Many companies have philanthropic programs that reach around the world. Because of our launch of Dakota Smith Eyewear in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, we wanted to impact children in New Mexico,” says Signature CEO Michael Prince.

Prince was moved by a story by Jim West, president and CEO of Futures for Children. West was with a 16-year-old Navajo girl who he noticed squinting at a Future’s event. He asked her if she had ever had an eye exam that indicated she needed glasses. The girl said that she had a prescription for glasses but that her parents couldn’t afford them. That child is one of the first students to receive glasses.

Students in the program who need eyewear now have an array of Signature products to choose from. Signature is working with a lens supplier to donate the lenses. Each student will also receive eyeglass cases for their eyewear. “We understand what an obstacle it is to overcome poor vision. It will be our pleasure to provide the gift of better vision for these extraordinary young students,” notes Prince. The program launched in Albuquerque in October and rolled out to the entire region Futures for Children serves. “As many as 50 percent of the students enrolled in the mentorship program may be in need of corrective lenses,” adds Prince. “We are looking forward to providing eyewear to nearly 800 students.”

The event in Albuquerque was at the Optical Shop in Nob Hill. Every 30 minutes during the event, drawings for Dakota Smith T-shirts, jewelry, luggage and other merchandise resulted in a frenzy of fun. The Santa Fe launch was at Fine Eyewear, the optometry shop of Dr. Stephen Carver. —JJS

J&J's Definity Goes National; ECPs Get New In-office Tools — To support the national release of its Definity progressive lenses this fall, the Spectacle Lens Group of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care has introduced in-office materials to help ECPs discuss presbyopia and the latest in lens technologies.

The tools include a fold-out “demo aid” display, a brochure and holder, a 20" x 24" waiting/exam room poster, a “width of field” demo, a reading and visual acuity card, a cut-out chart and fitting guide and a patient info card with cleaning cloth.

Seiko SF 1.67 OK'd for Zeiss Coatings — Seiko Optical Products’ semi-finished 1.67 high-index lenses have been approved by Carl Zeiss Optical for the application of Zeiss Foundation thermal hardcoating and the Zeiss Carat coating package. The approved lenses include Seiko clear hardcoat, Transitions and uncoated semi-finished 1.67 lenses; Seiko's Proceed II Short PAL will follow soon. These products can be purchased throughout the U.S. from Zeiss partner labs.

OptiSource Named Master Distributor for Camouflage
— Camouflage, a supplier of lens edge treatments, has named OptiSource International a master distributor. Customers can now get their edge treatment pens, pamphlets, marketing tools and technical support directly from OptiSource in Port Jefferson, N.Y.

 As the master distributor, OptiSource has the largest stock of Camouflage products in-house and ready-to-ship same-day customer orders.

The Camouflage process employs the use of proprietary edge-coloring pens that can be applied to any lens material in any type of frame mounting.

Mitsubishi Receives Worldwide Patents on High-Index Material
— Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company in Tokyo, Japan recently received basic patent rights worldwide for its episulfide type lens material that is used to manufacture high-index plastic lenses with 1.7 refractive index and greater. Mitsuibishi was granted a European patent (no. 0874016) and a Japanese patent (no. 3465528); a U.S. Patent (no. 6117923) was granted 2000.

Making the Right Connection
During National Vision Rehabilitation Day in New York at Lighthouse International’s headquarters, the new web site VisionConnection was launched. A joint project of Lighthouse International and the British group Royal National Institute of the Blind, the site provides information for visually impaired patients and the ECPs who treat them. The project, which was developed for years by Lighthouse International, is supported by more than 40 international associations for the visually impaired. VisionConnection also has corporate sponsorship with Microsoft having supported the technological development of the site.

The site—located at—is free but requires usernames and passwords. Low-vision users can adjust the site’s font and color settings to better suit their visual needs. The “For Professionals” section is designed for all three Os and has subsections including “patient management,” “practice management,” “eye diseases,” “organizations,” “professional products,” “training and education,” among others. also serves as a guide to other Internet sites known to be accessible to the visually impaired, including e-commerce sites.

While the site’s customization features are aimed at users with low vision and other visual impairments, much of VisionConnection is geared toward eyecare practitioners. According to Rachel Hager, VP and educational director of VisionConnection, the site is designed to facilitate communication between ECPs and patients. For example, the “Ask the Experts” section features a growing number of ECP participants and is expected to be the “most popular aspect of the site,” Hatch notes. Patients may also submit their addresses at “Help Near You” to find ECPs and support groups in their vicinities. “We don’t want to leave people without answers [about vision disorders],” Hatch says.
  —Seth J. Bookey