How has this year shifted you and your perspective?
AHLEM’s success has largely been attributed to thoughtfulness and adaptability. Along the road, we have always viewed obstacles as opportunities for growth. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, AHLEM has launched new programs including AHLEM REFRAMED and instilled new protocols, all the while remaining open to new ways to improve business and create a positive impact on the world beyond our immediate sight.
What do you believe to be the future of eyewear and fashion at large?
We are constantly looking for ways in which we can be of service within our industry, and our world at large. Today, fashion remains the second highest polluting industry behind petrochemicals—and in response, has begun a much needed clean up. AHLEM takes this task seriously and has adopted responsible processes at home and offshore in an effort to forge a more sustainable future. With production happening entirely in France, AHLEM proudly recognizes and celebrates regional French artisanship and the importance of a country leading the way in environmental ethics. AHLEM goes a step further and carefully chooses factories specializing in metal and acetate that are equally committed to sustainability and craftsmanship. Whenever possible, antiquated equipment is swapped out for new technology that emits less carbon and consumes less electricity. And when it comes to waste management, both factories make conscious efforts to reform: neither metals nor acetates are discarded, and instead are reduced, reused and recycled into new objects for resale.
Where does the design process begin for you and at what point are you most excited about what you’re creating?
I am constantly inspired by the work of my favorite artists and architects. The design process mostly begins when inspiration finds me, which can be at any moment. I design with details in my head, the design inherently follows the details.
How is that approach different from curating something like your new New York store?
The atelier is the essence of what I’m about and what continues to inspire me. At our store, you might expect to try on a few frames, observe curious objects collected and curated by me, or simply sit with a book or sketchpad and stay awhile. And in my eyes, we’ve designed space with mindfulness so that it may function as more than an optical store. I see an opportunity to welcome young designers and artists in and showcase their work. I hope to invite creativity and inspire design.
The AHLEM range speaks to so many of our clients, for those discovering your line for the first time, what do you want them to learn about the line or you? Which frames are the best gateway to that message?
We are committed to timelessness and quality, down to every microscopic detail. Our collection reﬂects a design philosophy that is centered around the relationship between simplicity, beauty, and functionality. Never inﬂuenced by trends or bound by seasonal restrictions. Each and every single of our frames are uniquely handcrafted with uncompromising attention to detail. There’s the utmost respect for artisanal expertise and a divine sensitivity to material and the process played out in each pair of glasses. Throughout production, each frame travels to three specialized ateliers, and into the hands of nine expert artisans—where often a family skill has been passed down through generations.
Most of the eyewear styles in your collection are named after metro stops in Paris, what do you think makes Paris such an endless source of inspiration after all this time? Last year you introduced Tokyo and Bel Air, what other cities, time periods or places are potent sources of inspiration for you?
I get inspired by the architecture, energy, and effortlessly undone éclat of the people of Paris. While AHLEM’s identity is deeply rooted in the City of Light—styles are named for Paris’ most innovative buildings, historic squares, neighborhoods, and hubs—the true origin lies in the City of Angels. It’s the collision of cool Venice Beach vibes and effortless Parisian refinement that exemplifies AHLEM.
What makes Los Angeles special to you?
Living in the laid back nature of Venice Beach has helped define me as a person and also as a designer.
What art, music, film, literature have you found inspiration or solace in this year?
Literature by: Leïla Slimani
French Indie pop – Playlist