They can make or break your look, they are essential to some, and give character to others. Glasses are an intimate object and have to be of quality. A luxury object with well researched shapes. An essential design object. Welcome to The Lafont family, poets of glasses… Matthieu Lafont loves to paraphrase a quote by Saint-Exupéry : it’s truly useful, because it’s beautiful. Here are glasses that are useful since they are pretty… The house of Lafont, is a family business where the luxury of glasses is French and only French. We slide into their Parisian creative workshop to discover the secrets of their glasses that have a touch of soul… The average age of the creative studio is less than thirty; it is a young team, but it is also a team that is loyal, some employees have been with the company for more than 30 years, and that means a lot. Here they work in a true family spirit. Our base principle at Lafont is independence. I think that our parents built the business with their worry of independence, not just creative freedom, but economic, commercial and financial independence. We want to be free in our choices, we want to be able to assume them and we do, but we really want to be in the free space of creativity, not to impose something on ourselves, because whether it’s fashion or trends, it’s an obligation and I don’t know, if there is something that requires us to do something, that is not our goal. We have unique family capital, we don’t have a pension plan or stocks, and we have this will for independence already, it’s really something in the DNA of the brand itself. The history of the company started in Paris during the roaring twenties in a small boutique of an acoustician and optician that saw the rise of the Lafont dynasty, in the 8th district on Rue Vignon. A dynasty that has been dedicated to glasses for the past 90 years. The second key period started in the 70s: the descendants, Philippe and Laurence Lafont decided to revolutionise the world of glasses, black or scaled, faded and without form; colour takes over thanks to the stylish Madame Lafont, who gives a trendy look to the glasses. Then comes the idea to create a true brand, a distribution company and style associate and four decades later, Lafont stands out like a true designer’s brand that includes collaborations with Chanel or Hermès. And frames worn by fashionistas from rue Cambon or the most eccentric stars like Lady Gaga…..with, as the leitmotiv, always more colour. Colour is fundamental, we live in colour, colour is our thing; I always lived in an atmosphere where there was colour. We have our boutiques that are colourful, they’re not white and transparent, they’re green, violet, or yellow because with these colours we enter our home, we welcome our clients into our universe. Today, for the creation, everything is imagined in the design studio at Issy-Les-Moulinaux. To create a collection….we do two collections a year, spring-summer, autumn-winter, like the fashion world, exactly the same principle, as well as the optician fashion weeks which are two salons, a salon in Paris at the end of September, and another salon which is in March, corresponding to the fashion weeks. Everything starts with a pencil stroke and a drawing. A work that is completely artisanal and really creates all its charm. In the continuity of the artistic work initiated by his mother, Thomas Lafont perpetuates a style, while constantly adapting it to the tastes of today. At the rate of two collections per year, for men, women and children. I was born Lafont, I draw Lafont… What is quite exciting is that we are two generations of creators… So in fact my mother drew products and then as we know that fashion is an eternal restart, we go for products, ideas that have existed, we bring them back, we create novelties that will come back in twenty, 25 years so there is this kind of walk in creation and fashion through the collection that is always the main thread of the brand. That is, we look even further into our history, the history of our boutique, our Madeleine boutique, where the traditional classic frame is the Pantos, it is a pair with a key, it has a unique nose form and it is really the icon of the house and it’s what really brought us success 40 years ago with the Genie frame. Creation is something you live deeply, everything is a source of inspiration, so of course we use mood-boards, but we create, the whole of our image, our identity, so it’s true that from the moment I start … I walk in different ways … I also create the acetate, I create the materials, or else I will draw inspiration from the creation of a material and I think it will be the main theme if it’s say tortoiseshell, if it is tortoiseshell with colour … I’m going to tell myself that this is perhaps the founding element of a product or the reverse, there is a shape that I have drawn that will be the beginning of the next collection. And as for materials, there is quite a choice… We use cellulose acetate that is a cotton based material that we use for our acetate glasses. Then we have the metal. In the metal, we’ll use stainless steel or titanium, many different materials. We can even use carbon to have more technical materials. Our particularity, is our work with colours. Actually, the idea is always to bring colour to different materials. On one collection, there are 25 even 30 colours, metal and acetate, that are developed in parallel… A surprising detail is that they always work on the drawing of a half pair of glasses to avoid any symmetry problems. They use a photocopier to complete the frame for perfect symmetry. An amusing detail is that if a pair of glasses weighs on average 30 grams, they use no less than 28 tons of acetate per year to make the major part of some 330,000 models that are released each year. Design for glasses, yes, but also the filming of an ad campaign, everything is created in house! A Perfect example: the tennis court for sporty inspired frames… Same for the showcase windows created in the heart of the house, and the ideas found in the lost cave of Alibaba, hidden in the back of the workshop! After the creative design of the company, we always go from the glasses to the product environment, to the business cards, invitation cards, and a website now. The idea is to have complete control of our image. So, it is a bit of work, we are busy, but it also allows us to be completely free and above all to react. To react flexibly, especially since it is a French company that works on the manufacturing side with the Lafont family. Two companies that have grown together and that are intimately linked, with a true tradition and a partnership that has no equivalent in the world of glasses. It has been a partnership of more than 40 years with a family business called Thierry SA, a frame maker that is today the biggest French frame manufacturer with 150 employees; they have an extremely interesting expertise and……the frame industry is now more than 100 years old. So they have decades of experience. Quality control, a requirement of the company. All Lafont glasses that are sold by an optician have passed through the offices of Issy-Les-Moulinaux, before being despatched all over the world, in nearly 40 countries, from Japan to Russia via the United States. Of these thousands of glasses received daily, surveys are carried out, to complete the checks carried out at the factory. It is a luxury and it is often forgotten, Lafont also manages the after-sales service: each lost screw or broken arm is replaced… We are committed to responding as soon as possible. If I take the example of Benelux or France, the next day the optician will have the spare part. And for us, it is providing the best of service. It is not just to make a beautiful frame for a beautiful product, it is not just to have it made in France; it is to follow through and accompany the customer and the consumer right to the end and be able to help, whether child or adult frames. After-sales service, this is part of the fundamentals of the house. A little bonus, a little luxury, it is even possible to create your own dream frames! At Lafont, anything is possible! It should be noted that we developed a custom frame workshop in our Parisian boutiques, including the oldest, the boutique of our great-grandfather Louis Lafont that opened in 1923. The boutique, I would say is always in the same place. The facade is original. Well, inside it has changed since 1923. And we have a real custom frame workshop, where a client can give in to their every wish. “I love my Lafont glasses but you don’t make them anymore. I would like them custom made, a unique piece please”. I would like to have these frames but they’re not right for me because they’re too big or small, or even I have an idea that is mine, could you make them? We’re capable of that, we have recreated a mini workshop that is a mini frame manufacturer in the heart of the 8th district. At Lafont, glasses are an art. People who love what they do for a sincere product, in love with well finished glasses… A policy that pays: today, with 234 colours, 80% of which are exclusive, and 120 different models, the Lafont brothers are a must for those who want to pay for the luxury and chic of designer glasses that they’ll never get tired of…

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Dennis Veasley

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