Inside Silmo 2012: Alive with Colour

By Paddy Kamen

This year’s Silmo optical trade show in Paris signaled a bold shift in eyewear trends for 2013. This article looks at the show through the eyes of Amin Mamdani, a seasoned veteran of all things optical. Mamdani, vice-president of operations and buyer for Josephson Opticians in Toronto, was thoroughly impressed and inspired by the eyewear collections at Silmo – and even experienced a bit of nostalgia.

“For me, this was a very special show because it brought me back to my first trade show as a buyer in 1988,” says Mamdani. “It was clear to me this year that I have seen and lived a full cycle of fashion in the past 24 years. In the past, when people talked about what Jackie O, Katherine Hepburn or Michael Caine wore, it was interesting and I did my research, but I hadn’t lived it. Looking at the styles presented at Silmo this year, I knew that I had experienced the history first-hand. The collections are heavily influenced by the styles of the late ‘80s but with a modern twist, of course.”

Mamdani notes that Silmo 2012 was lively, indeed. “It was the best energy I’ve seen in years and I felt inspired to a different level than in the past.”

One of his key inspirations is the emergence of a new design aesthetic. “I saw a move away from the heavy plastic look. This year’s plastic frames are thinner. This is an exciting change and perhaps, overdue.”

P3 shapes were popular on the show floor, as were butterfly and cat eye shapes for women. “I was reminded of Sophia Loren and the frames she used to wear, which were oversized and followed the contour of her brow – more rounded and with a bit of colour,” notes Mamdani. “She always wore pastels and soft rose colourings.”

Other colours that were trending for women at Silmo included violet and olive. “There was much less black and tortoise, and a revival of colour overall,” says Mamdani.

Colours for men included blues, olives, and many shades of brown, such as champagne and chocolate. Shapes for men were changing as well, moving toward what Mamdani calls ‘anti-rectangular.’ “Even Alain Mikli, who is known for his rectangular frames, was showing more square frames for men and cat eyes for women.”

Several exhibitors impressed Mamdani at this year’s show. “Anne et Valentin were superb, with a very colourful palette. They showed various shapes and sizes and I really loved the raw look of the finish on some models with sharper corners and an almost handmade look. I also loved Thom Browne, theNew Yorkdesigner of men’s clothing. I think he is right on the ball with his 1980s look, showing heavier acetate fronts with thin metal temples.” Mamdani also listed Harry Lary’s, Theo, Oliver and Claire Goldsmith and Francis Klein as among his favourite collections at the show.

The optimism that imbues Mamdani post-Silmo is palpable. “As a consumer and an optician, I look forward to 2013 with excitement. In the New Year, we will see a lot of new colour moving on to our shelves, brightening up the stores and signaling a shift. The heavier, chunky look will be replaced with fresh new designs that are good for retailers and consumers equally. I see this breathing new life into the industry.”

The next Silmo will take place from Thursday, September 26 toSunday September 29, 2013. It will be Silmo’s fourth year at the Paris Nord Villepinte exhibition centre, where they continue to demonstrate the vitality of the optics and eyewear sector and confirm Paris’ enviable position as a venue for major international events.