No longer exclusive to glasses enthusiasts or bespectacled architects, hand crafted eyewear has become one of many key accessories for the design-conscious. As a spectacle wearer since the age of 15, it's always been a long term struggle finding the right optical frames (and subsequently sunglasses) to suit my Asian face and fit my concaved nose-bridge. My slight short-sightedness allowed me to get away with wearing glasses only when watching TV or going to the cinema, so I guess it wasn't until last year, when I had my eyes tested that that the opticians found a slight astigmatism in both eyes. After twelve years of wearing the same boring black frames (of the NHS geeky ilk but still massively outdated and un-chic) it was finally time to find this eyewear-starved luddite a new pair of specs.
After discovering Andy Wolf's detective short story, The Rosenthal Legacy (pictured) at London Fashion Week last year, I was invited to meet the brains behind Eye Respect, a UK based distributor and retailer, who introduced me to it's eyewear brands. Some lesser known than others, Eye Respect stocks the likes of AM Eyewear, John Varvatos, Ksubi, Le Specs and Polaroid, but it was Andy Wolf's patterned colourful optical frames that took my fancy. Established in 2006, Andy Wolf began with its first collection of timeless modern glasses, bridging the gap of an aesthetically pleasing fashion accessory and the functionality of a design product. Handmade in the southeast of Austria, in Styria, every item has to pass a series of manufacturing steps and quality control ensuring each frame is hard wearing and long lasting.
"In contrast to numerous companies, who produce their glasses in low-wage countries in the Asia-Pacific-region, our products are entirely handmade in Austria, which each pair of glasses taking several weeks to produce. At the moment Andy Wolf achieves its biggest turnovers in Frances and Italy. The products target a particular group of people for whom their eyeglasses are precious accessories. Therefore Andy Wolf products are only available at selective distributors. However our glasses are worn by teenagers as well as by 70-year-old people. The combination of style with high quality attracts its target group in any age class.
When being asked why I chose a detective story for our new lookbook, I can only admit that I love these stories and its characters. They are as unique as our Andy Wolf glasses. We have created a collection that gives its wearer a touch of retro while being at the same time modern. It's the combination that counts. We both share originality, chic and a great sense of humour when it comes to fashion. Our designs are a symbol of openness and introduce a discreet 'Je ne sais quoi!'. The spectacle frames not only stand for style and elegance but also make you completely forget that you are wearing glasses."
-Katharina Plattner, Andy Wolf Designer and Managing Director.
Following on from The Rosenthal Legacy, Andy Wolf's latest collection pays tribute to detective stories and Agatha Christie's cat-eye glasses. A personal favourite, the Miss Marple style is processed with inlaid French lace sandwiched between blue and clear acetate. This particular style is also available in black, tortoise-shell and red but I went for the more unusual pale blue colour-way, purely for aesthetic reasons that the blue accentuates the lace pattern and texture. It's a hell of a lot more feminine than my previous/current frames but girl power aside, the Miss Marple is great example original design that is both modern and wearable.
Recently winning Accessory Designer of the Year and nominated for 'Designer Branding' category at the prestigious Vienna Awards for Fashion & Lifestyle 2012, Andy Wolf will be presenting together with Austrian label, Superated at Vienna Fashion Week this september, followed by London Fashion Week, where they will showcase a collaborations with Irwin & Jordan.