Francois Pinton: Paris Eyewear Trends

By Erica Hewins

Givenchy Fall 2011 eyewear. ©GivenchyWe break our glasses and sometimes we lose them; sometimes other people even steal them. When you’re away from home on business or leisure, it becomes even more difficult than usual to find a good eyewear store. Should any of those things happen to you while you’re in Paris and you need new glasses fast or if you’re seeking the very latest in fashionable eyeglass frames, you’ll find lots of options in Paris, from big chain stores to small boutiques.

Paris bonus: when you purchase one pair of glasses, some Paris eyewear stores give you a second pair of glasses, with either a reader or long-distance prescription, for just one euro more (most likely an unbranded basic frame). Keep this deal in mind when Paris has their soldes because you’ll find many stores cut 40% off the regular price. Deals vary widely from store to store; ask to see the second pair so you can inspect the quality, these may be strictly your back-up pair for house or car.

Some travelers buy frames in Paris and have lenses dispensed in the U.S., which can be worth the additional local expense. You save the extra cost of currency exchange and buying local makes good sense if your prescription is complicated and you need future adjustments that require a return visit.

Urgent, necessary, fast replacement

When you urgently need prescription glasses fast, head to Grand Optical , one of the most well known chains in Paris with over 10 Paris locations from Montparnasse to Montmartre. Most prescriptions can be filled on-site on the same day; more complicated, progressive prescriptions are usually ready in a week. Keep this in mind and plan accordingly. Thanks to lousy exchange rates, you’ll spend more for French frames than you would in the U.S., but if you urgently need glasses replaced so you can see, this is where we'd suggest you go first. Remember to travel with a current prescription from your local source.

Francois Pinton "Jackie" frame. ©Francois Pinton.Eyewear as a fashion accessory

To make the most of your investment, we asked Philippine Pinton of Boutique François Pinton in the Paris 7th to update us on the latest trends. Philippine comes from a long line of eyeglass designers. Her grandfather started the business, attracting famous clients like Jackie Kennedy, Aristotle Onassis and Grace Kelly.

According to Philippine, today more people than ever before are wearing glasses as a fashion accessory.

“Years ago, when you talked to people who designed frames, they were not really very fashion-oriented. Glasses weren’t as trendy as they are today. This way of working has changed,” says Philippine.

Francois Pinton "LOU2" frame. ©Francois Pinton.As a graduate of both fashion design and fabric design from LISAA (L'Institut Supérieur des Arts Appliqués) in Paris, Philippine creates original designs to produce a more fashionable accessory.

“We create eyewear designs two or three years before you see the eyeglasses showing up in magazines and on celebrities.”

Just last year François Pinton launched the model LOU2 and this year the design is the new model for Yves St. Laurent.

Fall 2011 eyewear trends: big is back

Lafont cat-eye frames, Fall 2011. ©Lafont Paris.

Philippine gave us a sneak peak at the current eyewear trends.

Although Philippine says every kind of shape can be fashionable nowadays, the top frame style trends are: big lenses, round shapes and 1950s cat-eye styles. Trending frame colors are: black, crystal and a matte finish are in for both sunglasses and optical glasses. Sunglasses trend colors are turquoise, blue, grey, pink, and yellow. The hot colors for optical glasses are red, green, purple, and light pink.

The over-arching trend is unisex glasses.

“When you have a quick look at the 2010 ready-to-wear Balenciaga and Givenchy collections, you see a masculine look—pants, t-shirts and leather jackets. It’s "rock and roll' so glamorous that you imagine girls borrowed their frames from their boyfriends to finish the look.”

Another new trend is vintage.

“We just had a look at some of the eyewear models we designed 40 years ago and modernized it!”

Fall 2011 by Alain Mikli. ©Alain Mikli

Paris optical stores

Paris has countless optical shops, but you crossed an ocean for fashion-forward, right? Think European designers like Alain Mikli, Versace, Jil Sander, Chanel, Dior, etc. for the boldest looks celebrities are now wearing. Lafont still sells their classic small frames, but their cat-eye frames and lollypop-bright colored acetate frames are what's happening today.

Listed below are but a few suggestions for shops that carry the latest looks in European contemporary and vintage eyewear.

Do check optical departments at les grand magasins like Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Le Bon Marché.

Don't forget to file for your détaxe refund (also known as the VAT, Value Added Tax) available to non-EU residents who spend 175 euros or more in the same store on the same day—here's the official process for filing at CDG or Orly airports. Don't miss a step. Although the tax included in your price is at 20% (round number), your refund will be less. At the airport, take the cash-on-the-spot option if offered unless you want to wait several months for a refund to appear on your credit card, which some say never happens.

Prices at airport Duty Free shops reflect the price without tax, so allow time to shop before your departure because even if they don't have the very latest, European trends lead U.S. mass retail stock.

Erica Hewins is a a fashion major at Syracuse University who spent the summer in Paris studying fashion, arts and lifestyle trends. Her most recent article published by BonjourParis was a review of the Madame Grès Exhibition.

Practical Information:

Alain Afflelou second pair for 1 euro

multiple stores in Paris, France & Europe

Alain Mikli the latest European looks

5 Paris boutiques

Boutique François Pinton [interviewed above]

Paris 7th

E.B. Meyrowitz an investment: custom-made frames in buffalo horn, precious metals, etc.

Place Vendôme, Paris 1st

Grand Optical like the giant US optical chain, convenient for quick 1-hour emergency service for some prescriptions

13 Paris locations as of 2011

La Fabrique de Lunettes Tom Ford, Chloe, Prada, Marc Jacobs, etc. & a unique "rent by the month" program

Le Marais, Paris 3rd

Lafont trendsetters known worldwide

5 Paris shops

La Jolie Garde-Robe [no website] vintage, retro, cat-eye & '80s huge frames

Tél: 01 4272 1390

15, rue Commines, Paris 3rd

Les Opticiens du Bac

Paris 7th

Les Plus Belles Lunettes du Monde Alain Mikli & European designer styles

2 Paris shops, Paris 1st & Paris 8th

Marc Le Bihan Opticien fashion-forward

5 Paris stores

Opta Créateurs recommended by a BonjourParis reader (merci)

Montmartre, Paris 18th

Optique de la Madeleine Boucheron, Cartier & luxury brands

Paris 8th

Optique de la Pépinière contemporary luxury brands like: Dior, D&G, Givenchy, Hugo Boss, Lafont, Versace, etc.

Paris 8th

Selima Optique über chic since 1988; luxury; US NY & CA stores plus shop online

2 shops in the Paris 4th

Erica Hewins is a a fashion major at Syracuse University who spent the summer in Paris studying fashion, arts and lifestyle trends. Her most recent article published by BonjourParis was a review of the Madame Grès Exhibition.

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