When an anniversary is celebrated in grand fashion (a key word here) it had better be worth it in terms of history, heritage, hindsight and designs (another key word) toward an even greater future. The 40th year celebration by the masters-of-ceremony for France’s Silmo World Optical Fair qualifies on all facets.

Of course, the apex of this celebratory year will be the actual Silmo show, October 19 through 22, but anticipating, entertaining and educating in true French fashion Silmo organizers hosted a near week-long series of events this past summer for invited press correspondents worldwide.

Initiation night, hosted by Silmo chairman Guy Charlot, was a private tour of the Decorative Arts Museum, itself a part of the historic Louvre. Specific exhibits included a close look at the fashions of Jean Paul Gautier and the modern furnishing designs of Joe Colombo. But best deal of THAT night was a scrumptious buffet partnered with one of the best eyewear trend presentations ever experienced by this reporter. (Look for a complete “Americanized” version of this in the October issue of 20/20 scheduled for the actual Silmo fair.)

Choice and cherished events over the next three days included afternoon eyewear presentations from France’s top eyewear companies, blisteringly fast journeys on the TGV High Speed Train to Reims and Bordeaux for enchanting culinary experiences of that “other” aspect of France’s most sublime products (besides eyewear), namely champagne and wine. For the Reims visit guests stepped deep down through the chalk tunnels of the House of Ruinart, France’s “Maison de Champagne” while the Bordeaux sojourn included a multi-course evening feast at the Chateau Giscours followed by a day trip to the historic vineyard town of St. Emilion. There events cumulated with an adieu-luncheon at the Chateau La Couspade, once owned by the Duke of Aquitaine but lost in the divvy-up after the Hundred Year War.

Cheers to Silmo and all others take note: This is a class act and it’s all dedicated to perceptively promoting our professionally cherished and shared heritage of eyewear.

—James J. Spina