Tell us about the Alyson Magee brand...
I've always believed eyewear to be a fashion accessory in its own right. I work with acetate, metal and combinations of both. Combinations of colours and materials, as well as patterns are the focus of my collections. A big part of my inspiration comes from architecture. I love observing architectural details. I travel regularly and I notice that whether you are in Liverpool, New York or Hong Kong a lot of new buildings are being built these days. I find that very interesting for the lines and volumes as well as materials or colour combinations. Basically the core themes are often structural or architectural in my work. My new acetate frames feature a lot of colour blocking. In the frames which combine acetate and metal, I replace colour blocking with little skeletons of metal. Nature too is vital. I look to natural hues and the manipulation of light that surrounds us both in urban and more rural areas for inspiration. I live mostly in Paris but I still spend time in the lush Irish countryside. My new collection is an exploration of these contrasting but complimentary experiences.
What inspired you to become a jewellery designer?
As a child I would spend many hours observing my uncle who was a jeweller work in his workshop – I was always fascinated by how his large hands could work on such intricate and delicate pieces of precious jewellery. He eventually gave me my own corner of his workshop and some basic tools to experiment with. He was also a fly fisherman – I would also watch him tie minute flies with these large hands in amazement!!
As I grew older I decided that I wanted to study Architecture and decided to start with a year of foundation art studies. During this year I was exposed to many different facets of the artistic world – it was then that I decided that it was jewellery that really interested me – an architecture of another scale!!
After completing your masters, how did you proceed to becoming co-founder of Face A Face?
Whilst studying at the RCA I was introduced to some influential figures in the eyewear industry. I began working with Anglo American Eyewear, at that time a highly inventive optical business which was known for its innovative hand-made frames and fashion direction. I then went to Paris to work with Alain Mikli who was collaborating with world-renowned ready-to-wear designers sucha s Claude Montana and Corinne Cobson and in 1992 I took up a position at the legendary Lafont Studio alongside the wife of the grandson of Louis Lafont, Laurence. In 1995 while working at Lafont I met my future business partners, it was then that we decided to create Face à Face where I had the role of Creative Director.
What projects have you been involved in that you’re most proud of?
I was involved with some very exciting projects with Alain Mikli in the 1980s and worked with the film director, Wim Wenders on his film “Jusqu’au bout du Monde” It was exciting to meet him and the actors most notably Jeanne Moreau and learn about different art forms and disciplines.
There were some spectacular Claude Montana fashion shows in the 80s that were pretty special and of course, helping to give birth to Face a Face – from zero to a 10million Euros company in less than 10 years.
Today it’s about sharing my knowledge and expertise at the prestigious IFM in Paris and with design students at the RCA in London.
What can we expect to see in the future from Alyson Magee?
I am always very excited about the future. My work evolves as I learn more about techniques and innovations which allow me to explore new directions. Colour is key. Bold explosions of colour played out across dynamic structures and frames.
The synergy and support from the team at Brando Eyewear is proving to be a marvellous platform from which to reach out to a wider global market.
What can visitors expect to see from Alyson Magee at 100% Optical?
There will be six optical and four sun styles further exploring the themes already highlighted such as architectural references. We will be offering an homage to nature with my use of bold bespoke Mazzuchelli acetates and the introduction of graded lenses in ocean hues. The result is a modernist collection of highly considered and wearable eyewear for both men and women. The structure of the frames deserves a mention. Here I am experimenting with a new take on negative space by contrasting a frame within a frame, with soft sweeping curves of stainless steel, layered for a bold new look. Look out for a classic aviator shape that features an intricate new nose bridge and showcases the newly designed ocean lens in graded blue and green. This is an iconic look for us. This new collection sees a greater number of combination frames. I love the juxtaposition of materials, stainless steels versus custom acetate. The pared back metal series includes just a subtle acetate details with my signature wing tip on every frame.