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Monday, October 1, 2007

The Eyes of Mars

Stylist Haidee Findlay-Levin falls for the specs appeal of Paris...

For the distances we schlep during Paris Fashion Week, we should be awarded air miles—or fashion miles, redeemable at a boutique of our choice. Double miles for attending the shows of obscure newbies or old-timers who set up on the periphery of the city. Well, fashion miles aren't going to happen, but it certainly won't stop my wanderlust.

Besides, the rewards really add up when those dots on the map start to connect and you sense a trend. The eyewear fanatic I am, I get a particular rush when I witness a cool or innovative pair of glasses. The first such pair for spring came from my dear friend Bernhard Willhelm, who showed in the old Purple Institute. His girls were whited out (thanks to the airbrush work of Ferida for Uslu Airlines—ooh, triple points?) and suspended in wooden crates with air bubble packaging. Wearing colorful and madcap dragcar-racing inspired clothes, a few sported oversized, nose-shielding sun visors, like the one seen here. (This idea of protection resurfaced on fantastic stack-heel metallic boots complete with a safety warning.) The spec-tacular visors, a collaboration between Bernhard and Linda Farrow Eyewear that took two seasons to develop, reminded me of the 60's variety—also complete with molded noseguards—from eyewear designer extraordinaire Oliver Goldsmith, a Brit who, with all the Michael Kane look-a-likes walking around, seems to be having a moment.

Later, Undercover took us on a trip that exended beyond Paris. We were greeted with a black lei—with a tag that read "Strange Summer"—draped around each of our necks and a thunderstorm soundtrack that seemed to set the stage for some macabre aloha collection. On the contrary, out walked girls in bikinis and backpacks (à la Prada a few seasons ago, especially when one model dragged a suitcase)—and, again, visors. But this time they were narrow wrap-arounds that almost looked homemade, or like working prototypes. (Apparently they couldn't wait two seasons!) I loved the makeshift appeal, especially when they were teamed with terrycloth sweatshirts and belted coats. The sportier the clothes, the more outlandish the eyewear, ending with an extremely thin cat-eye pair so real they could have been actual cat eyes. By now I was cursing my need for prescription lenses as I wanted to own them instantly.

I love how Martin Margiela develops an idea over several seasons, taking it to its extreme before doing a 360. For him and his maison, I'd travel to outer space, but his show took us there anyway, with shoulders so wide they made the runway look narrow. I, however, was fixated on the eyewear. Known to negate his models' eyes with makeup, bangs or even, in his look books, a magic marker, Margiela sent out the first girl in black sleeker-than-sleek wrap visor glasses—a single gesture and singular vision. I was weak! The visor reappeared throughout the show, sometimes clear with a shadowy echo of gray or mauve makeup. For spring, the eyes of the Margiela girl will be protected from the elements and the envious. On a clear day she will see forever.

- Haidee Findlay-Levin