By Lesley Springall. For more about SILMO 2019 and from Lesley Springall, visit

Trying to spot the trends at this year’s SILMO in Paris, one of the largest optical fairs in the world, was a tough ask. Thin metals, especially in rose gold, abounded, but that’s now; tomorrow remained elusive.

That’s no bad thing though, said Eschenbach Optik’s vice president Walter Kaiser. “The biggest trend is there are no major differences at the moment; everything goes… whatever your taste, there’s a solution.” That offers optometrists a great opportunity to differentiate themselves, he said. “For those looking for something different, you give them that choice.”

There were trends to be seen at SILMO 2019, however, but these were broad coming in many different designs and materials: one was colour, glorious bright, strong colours; and the other was sustainability, the desire to reduce eyewear’s impact on the environment.

Focusing on the planet

There were some, like Italian customised wooden frames manufacturer Feb31st, which has always followed an environmental path, using ecologically harvested wood and making its bespoke frames to order. While Ogi Eyewear’s cases are all recyclable and its point-of-sale products are made from left-over acetate from its Ogi, Seraphin, Scojo, Red Rose and Bon Vivant ranges.

Feb31st founder and designer Stefano Minelli

Feb31st founder and designer Stefano Minelli.

Madrid-based start-up, Nina Mūr’s bold styles make a bold environmental statement with frames made from replanted birch wood, frame faces from recycled paper and cases from recycled leather.

Caring about the planet, Nina Mūr's Lorena Serrano

Caring about the planet, Nina Mūr's Lorena Serrano.

Other’s proudly displaying their green credentials included Dutch company C-Zone, which unveiled a new environmentally-friendly frame range at this year’s SILMO, made from a light bioplastic derived from castor oil seeds. 3D printed eyewear pioneer, Monoqool, also used castor beans to produce what it claims is the first green, 3D printing material. The material is so new, Monoqool had only one model on display, its ‘Sustain’ sunglasses, which it’s making available to just 100 stores worldwide.

Monoqool's new sustainable 3D printed frames.

Like Feb31st, Silhouette International’s Neubau brand has always put the environment first. Launched four years ago, its urban-style frames are made from Nat­u­ralPX, again derived from castor oil seeds. Lightweight, flexible and sturdy, it can be produced in a range of colours. Neubau’s recyclable cases are made from cellulose, while one recycled plastic bottle makes two Neubau cleaning cloths.

Consumers today are demanding these changes, said David Chalmers, Silhouette’s global sales director. “This gives us an authentic message, but it’s as much about economic efficiency as well as sustainability.”

Colouring up our world

Colour also abounded at this year’s SILMO: vibrant reds, matched with bright pinks and purples, bright incandescent blues, greens and warm oranges, mixed with golds, provided a rich colour pallet throughout the fair.

Kirk & Kirk’s Kaleidoscope collection, featuring large, bold translucent acrylic frames in bright primary colours verily leapt off the stand, while it was impossible not to smile when faced with so much colour and happiness on Lara D’s stand.

Adding colour to the world, Lara D's Lara D'Alpaos

Adding colour to the world, Lara D's Lara D'Alpaos.

One of the most famous designers when it comes to colour is the proudly Parisienne Lafont, which was displaying a range of bright red and pink eyewear from this year’s collection. Some frames sported obvious layers with cut out polka dots of colour; others smooth, amalgamating the colours together in different patterns and across different frame shapes.

Colours were also unleashed across JF Rey’s brightly coloured stand. It’s new Frida Kahlo Boz Eyewear range favoured strong Mexican colours and patterns; the mix and match metal frames in its Petite range, popped with two or more bright colours in each frame; while Volte Face’s signature is colour.

Not traditionally known for colour, Jaguar’s Spirit range by Menrad brought colour to the Jaguar brand more than a decade ago and has been pushing the boundaries ever since. When viewed together, the range incorporates every bright colour imaginable, but careful design puts it on the inside, so it’s obvious when presented, but not when worn.

Menrad's Eberhard Mueller and the 2019 Jaguar Spirit range

Menrad's Eberhard Mueller and the 2019 Jaguar Spirit range.

Always a kaleidoscope of colour, the Design Eyewear Group’s Face and Face and Woow new collections jumped out from brightly coloured stands.

Face a face is sophisticated, avant garde. It must always be at the forefront, surprising, exploring attitude with its colours,” said Design Eyewear Group’s head designer and Face a Face co-founder Pascal Jaulent. “I was very audacious this season in shapes and colour combinations, the pleasure and magic of it. I love this direction when everything seems so anxious at the moment.”

Colour means happiness, says Design Eyewear’s head designer Pascal Jaulent

Colour means happiness, says Design Eyewear’s head designer Pascal Jaulent.

With so much choice Jaulent calls on opticians to “be audacious” in their choices. “Dare and trust your customers, your patients; they are much more ready than you are to discover new things.”


SILMO d’Or Awards

Celebrating 25 years of championing the visionaries of the eyewear industry, the 2019 SILMO d’Or Awards were awarded in glittering style at the Pavillon d’Armenonville in central Paris complete with champagne, fireworks and even a plastic ball bath! Here are the winners:

  • Frame technological innovation – Freisicht with ‘Avantgarde’
  • Children – Opal with ‘Tartine & chocolat TC AA353’
  • Optical frames ‘fashion’ – Marni with ‘ME2632’ Marchon
  • Sunglasses ‘fashion’ – Sonia Rykiel with ‘Endless Summer’ L’Amy
  • Sport – Safilo with ‘Attackmag MTB’ by Smith
  • Contact Lenses – Johnson & Johnson Vision for Acuvue Oasys with Transitions
  • Lenses – Novacel with ‘Variovid Volterra’
  • Material/Equipment – BBGR with its personal light sensivitity meter, ‘Lumiz 100’
  • Optical frame ‘eyewear designer’ – Tarian with ‘Graphic’
  • Sunglasses ‘eyewear designer’ – Caroline Abram with ‘Divine’
  • Low vision – Voxiweb with ‘Voxione’
  • Special Jury Prize 1 – Jacques Marie Mage with ‘Loewy’
  • Special Jury Prize 2 – Lightbird with ‘Planet’
  • Special Jury Prize ‘visual health’ – Abeye with ‘Lexilens’


William Morris unveils ‘William Morris’

Iconic British Eyewear designer William Morris has launched the William Morris Gallery Eyewear Collection.

A world-famous designer, craftsman, poet and political activist, the older William Morris was one of the founder members of the British arts and crafts movement in 1834. His exquisitely designed textiles, wallpapers and home wear are still popular today, and synonymous with iconic British apartment store John Lewis.

The partnership between Robert Morris, founder and designer of today’s William Morris eyewear company (William is his middle name) and the iconic textile designer was brought about by product development specialist and retro eyewear dealer Lauretta Dives. “I simply asked Robert, why aren’t you doing William Morris by William Morris.”

Dives then approached The William Morris Gallery in East London, the older William Morris’ former home and caretaker of his art and artefacts collection, which was delighted as they said they kept getting calls for William Morris eyewear, she said. “They are delightful people and it’s a great collaboration. They’ve been so supportive because they love their product and they loved the eyewear (Robert) produced.”

Lauretta Dives and William Morris' Robert Morris. Credit: NZ Optics; and WM by William Morris frames pics x 3

Lauretta Dives and William Morris' Robert Morris. Credit: NZ Optics; and WM by William Morris frames pics x 3.

It is the most obvious collaboration, said Robert Morris. “For over twenty years I have been asked if we are connected with William Morris, the designer, and I am delighted that through this collection we can now officially claim our place in the great British heritage design tradition.”

The challenge, however, was to come up with something different, he said. “I needed to come up with designs that suited the collaboration but didn’t look like a William Morris London or William Morris Black design. So, we had to create a completely new look.”

Robert was also attracted by the opportunity to support The William Morris Gallery’s art education programmes for children which it runs on behalf of Waltham Forest Council. A percentage of the royalties William Morris returns on each sale is given to the Gallery’s charitable arm.

The 12 contemporary optical frames, designed for both men and women, are crafted from metal and acetate and feature 12 of the most popular William Morris prints from 1880 to 1905. Each print has been intricately placed on the inside of the arms through to the temple tips as an integral part of the styling. Each frame is sold with a matching print, magnetic flat-folding case and co-ordinating polishing cloth.