Aug 3, 2009

The Hottest Sunglasses on Earth (and the Designer Behind Them)

For some people sunglasses are just a fashion accessory. An important one, because it is "in your face" -literally-, but still, just one accessory more in the list.

For some other people, like me, sunglasses are a need: I am slightly photo phobic and I live in sunny South Florida, capisce?

For that sole reason, I have probably around 20 pairs of sunglasses. I need to have always at least one in the car, one in my purse, one at work, several around the house and the ones I use to swim (yes, I do swim with sunglasses). Some are extremely cheap (the "backup" sunglasses, like the ones in the car), some are expensive (those are the ones I make a serious effort to avoid losing).

Now, even if I considered them a need, I do appreciate the fashion side of this object. Again, they are in your face and they can 'make it or break it'. Strangely, there have not been not so many really great "out of the box" innovations when it comes to frames. Until now.

Last year, I wrote a brief posting about a company doing something really, really, really new: the Cinematique frames. Frames made from movies, with actual pieces of 16mm and 35mm film. The film is protected in a waterproof, air tight transparent encasement that allows the light to shine through, making the film to be more visually stunning.

The company, Tipton Eyewear , born in the US but based now in Budapest, Hungary, recycles movies to make this one-of-a-kind frames that are -without any doubt-, a conversation piece as well as whole statement by themselves. As it happens when going to the cinema, the movie you choose for your frames may say a lot about you.

This year they have gone one step further with their new collection of rescued vintage movies that includes topics like: erotica, burlesque, softcore, soviet space missions, and classic black and white cartoons like Popeye and Krazy Kat. Yeap. Nude scenes from Emanuelle in your glasses can make them (literally) the hottest one in the world (see image at the top); Popeye on the other hand can make them(metaphorically) the strongest ones.

When I got the news about this new line, I couldn't help it with my curiosity and decided to interview the designer behind the frames: Zachary Tipton.

But first, check out some of their new frames...

From the Erotica collection

Ford in Black

One of my favorites: Hitchcock in Havannah

Aren't they something?

Moving forward to the interview. I have to admit that when I read that some of the films used included -for example- "original footage of Soviet space missions" my first concern was about the possibility that this recycling may entail losing some valuable material forever. Zach put me at ease: "We do make sure that the media is still available and the ones we can not find on digital media, we digitalized ourselves. This has been done with the vintage erotica from the 1950s, 60s. Others are already available on DVD, like Swinging Cheerleaders and Emanuelle and some are in YouTube: Louis vs Walcott, Popeye, Chaplin...

We have been receiving film from the Hungarian National television. They are in the process of digitalizing their archives. We acquire the footage that has already gone through the process."

I asked Zach if they've considered the possibility of giving some of the not so well known movies with the frames and surely enough they are moving in that direction.

"We are working on a DVD that will be distributed with the frames. There are a few copyright issues that have to be dealt with first: On major motion pictures such as Emanuelle and Swinging Cheerleaders, an original DVD will come with the online purchase of the frame. For the others (anonymous erotic releases from the 40s-70s and old socialist media footage as well as home movies) that we have digitalized ourselves will be distributed with the frames."

So, how the idea to use films started? "My brother (Zoltan) and I had the idea to use film a few years ago. I suppose it stemmed from the original idea of recycling materials (another line we make uses vinyl records for both the frame and case). We had received a roll of film from a friend who worked in the theater and we started experimenting with it. After a year we came upon the idea of inserting it into the temple. The idea grew from there. We then started collecting all the previews from that theater in southern Hungary."

Do you try to get some specific films or you work with what you can get? "We do both, but now are starting to get more specific films. The film makes the product and if we don't put what people want in it, they won't sell. Popular categories are: sex, nudity, fire, patterns, icons (Monroe, Eiffel Tower, etc), art directors (Kubrick, Allen, Tarantino) airplanes, planets, space... vintage. Not so popular categories are: darkness, recognizable faces, certain actors, credits..."

What percentage is usable from a film? (I understand that you try to use scenes that can be seen in the frames so I am guessing there is a lot of material you can't use) "Unfortunately a big precentage of the film is unusable: dramas (too many face close ups and people don't like wearing other peoples faces... plus they are usually monotonous in color). Horror movies because they tend to be dark. Credits (people don't like a lot of text, especially if they can't read it). But don't fear! the unused stuff gets recycled too: packing material (instead of styrofoam puffs) and window displays."

If you think I am totally in love with the idea and the product, you are right. The fact that is recycled material makes them "green" but the actual material gives them an almost intellectual side that no other frames can have. Shallow and deep, cold and hot, customized to your choice and rare as the movies from the 40's they use, this new line definitely has an European soul that can attract the "pure fashionista" and the almost geeky "movies-savvy" at the same time.

Believe it or not, here in South Florida there is not yet a store carrying this frames (Miami, come on!) but stores in NYC, Chicago, Califnornia, Oregon and Minnesota already have some Tipton eyewear. And if you already know what style goes better with your face, they also have a small part of their collection available online but there are several stores accross the world carrying the line: from Europe to Japan, from Australia to Malaysia, Canada and Singapore, specialty stores already have Tipton frames available.

These are not cheap frames, of course, but if you think about how unique they are you will not find them outrageous expensive either. Prices range from 250 to 350 Euros, but hey! who else has a Hitchcock movie around their eyes?


Anonymous said...

Great way to recycle all those kilometers of film!!!

Rachel Cohen-Lunning said...

Good work--- especially for those New Yorkers that love there movies.
Careful of copiers. We make very unusual sunglasses and in the last few months a 20 something girl
copied an idea we used and invented in 1988,
Rihanna wore the copy and now KR is well known and we are wimpering.

Harvey_birdman said...

This is not recycling anything as the cost and material required to produce the transparent frame almost certainly outweigh any "green" benefit to reusing old film. Old film is easily recycled through traditional means. Feel free to buy these glasses to be a fashion dupe, but don't fool yourself into thinking it's doing anything for the environment.