By Jillian Urcelay
JU: YOU MUST HAVE HAD A DEEP INSIGHT INTO THE INDUSTRY FROM AN EARLY AGE BECAUSE OF YOUR FAMILY’S RICH HISTORY IN EYEWEAR. HOW DID THIS UNIQUE EXPERIENCE AFFECT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH EYEWEAR AND THE INDUSTRY FROM THE START?
TL: My first memory is of the family workshop on rue Vignon in Paris. I remember my grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s colorful tools, the sound of the polisher and the smells—it was fascinating for a child! I was so fortunate to be “into the manor born.” Eyewear is something natural for me—I never needed an apprenticeship. To me it is about passing on a family tradition.
DID YOU ALWAYS DREAM OF DESIGNING EYEWEAR? WHEN AND HOW DID YOU OFFICIALLY START YOUR ROLE AS CHIEF CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND DESIGNER OF LAFONT?
I have always envisioned my creative education as a path. I began by designing window sets and booth displays, moving on to working side-by-side with my mother on the collections. My first men’s collection launched in 2006.
IN WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU SEEN EYEWEAR AND THE INDUSTRY EVOLVE OVER THIS TIME?
There has been a notable decrease in independent brands like ours. The gradual corporate takeovers have led to a consolidation of the market and a loss of independent creators. I have also witnessed an evolution in manufacturing techniques that allow significant improvements in product quality. We can realize, to a much greater extent, our creativity through the improvement of these techniques.
ON THAT NOTE, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE AN INDEPENDENT BRAND? WHY SHOULD CONSUMERS CHOOSE LAFONT OVER FASHION DESIGNER BRANDS?
Creative independence is a value essential to our House—it’s in our DNA. This independence allows me great freedom of choice in the styles and colors found in our collections. I know consumers are increasingly looking for something different and special. Utilizing our creative approach throughout Lafont’s history, we’ve been able to meet their need to hear a real family story, backed by product quality.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE LAFONT DESIGN AESTHETIC?
This year we celebrated our 40th anniversary. Lafont is 40 years of color, 40 years of creation. Color is the very essence of our collections. The colors impart a magic quality that breathes life into each frame. The Lafont style is a very Parisian style, with an eye for and focus on detail.
FINALLY, WHAT CAN LAFONT FANS EXPECT IN 2020 IN TERMS OF THOSE DESIGN THEMES AND COLORS?
We present the new collection as a journey, undertaken with frames that are of edgy character, willfully feminine and adorned with sassy lines. My palette is enriched by new designs with colors that shine, contrast and cast shade. It will be impossible to miss our unique patterns: striped, marbled, shells and of course, polka dots—signature of the House.
With combination, acetate, metal and jewelry frames, the offering is both balanced and wide ranging. In particular, our Lafont Paris women’s segment bursts with boldness, affirming its singularity. ■