As temperatures have considerably dropped over the past few weeks and the general mood is set for the forthcoming festive season, winter is unambiguously approaching.
Imagine the following winter situation – solid stone fireplace with dancing bright orange flames, diffusing comforting warmth in the room, heavy woven rugs scattered across polished oak floor, dark leather sofa and armchair with soft cushions in each corner, sturdy rectangular coffee table and at the far end of the room a neatly packed pair of skis, combining a unique blend of high tech materials and sophisticated design. Idyllic setting in even more idyllic winter landscape with crisp, fluffy white show, imposing ever-green mountain pines and endless slopes and hills. You get the picture of what would be the perfect location for a chalet and winter sports, notably skiing.
Although I am not a ski adventurer, I am interested in this great outdoor activity because it comes with all the trimmings – from gear and specific clothing to… eyewear. Yes, it’s all about winter eyewear and skiing. And with this in mind, I am going to write about the French design eyewear maker – Vuarnet. If you can’t think of anything that is associated with the brand don’t worry, this post will shed some light on the matter.
The Legend is Born
Behind the name and the success of the brand is Jean Vuarnet. Jean Vuarnet a French Alpine ski racer who was born in 1933 in Tunisia, but relocated to Morzine, a village in the Rhône-Alpes region in Eastern France, when he was 1 year old. He discovered his passion for skiing very early and began to ski with his father. In 1957, at the age of 24, the talented and tenacious Vuarnet won the Emile Allais cup in Megève, thanks to the egg position, which is ever since associated with his name.
If you wonder who Emile Allais is then what you need to know about him is that he was the greatest French Alpine ski racer who won all 3 events (i.e. slalom, downhill and combined) at the 1937 world championship in Chamonix and the gold medal in the combined competition (slalom and downhill) in 1938. He had medals from competitions in Germany and Switzerland in the late 1930s and created the Ecole Française de Ski where he taught innovative skiing techniques. The ski school, as of today, is the biggest ski school in the world regarding the number of teachers and is present at every ski resort in France, as well as abroad.
Jean Vuarnet’s first significant achievement was followed by many more, as you would expect. The innovative and patented Skilynx lens was created in 1957. The sleek design and expert features of the lens were revealed in the iconic 002 Vuarnet sunglasses. What makes these sunglasses unique is their double gradient mirror lenses, which provides maximum protection from the sun light as well as improve light levels of hazy or misty weather. The interior of the lens has an anti-reflective blue coating which eliminates reflections from the concave side of the lens. The fact that blue light plays a vital part in the dazzling effect of the strong sunlight and can affect perception, this has been carefully examined, and the legendary sunglasses are perfectly optimized for that purpose.
These beautiful sunglasses are for all those who love vintage pieces and demand quality to the highest standards. According to the history of the brand, Jean Vuarnet wore those sunglasses at the Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, US, in 1960. He was the first one to win the gold medal in downhill on metal skis instead of traditional wooden ones at the competition. A year later, in 1961, after meeting the Olympic champion the optician Roger Pouilloux, owner of Sporoptic Pouilloux, S.A, began the manufacturing of the first Vuarnet sunglasses.
The death of the great skier in 2012 didn’t curb the brand’s drive and appetite for further international expansion and growth. The eyewear company has set a hugely challenging and ambitious goal – to take the lead in the luxury eyewear market in Northern America. It is speculated that the brand will raise the number of available models up to 30 in January 2015 and will also launch capsule collections specifically designed for the American market. What’s more, the brand will target only the best opticians in order to secure its high-end and exclusive exposure and will propose its undeniable expertise and meticulous craftsmanship to the affluent 25 – 45 age group.
It looks like all is sliding well for Vuarnet with its pieces being on the shelves of top retailers in the posh ski resorts of Colorado – Aspen, Vail and Snowmass and Whistler in Canada. What’s more, celebrities such as rock legend Mick Jagger and one of France’s most handsome actors Alain Delon have styled the luxury eyewear. The luxe touch is further enhanced by the capsule collection created by the stylist and founder of the eponymous luxury eyewear company John Dalia, who is famous for using noble and exclusive materials such as white and pink gold.