Spider Waves and Ripples on the Water: The “Sweet Alchemy” of Anne et Valentin Eyewear
Anne Valentine began designing eyewear because she couldn’t find frames that suited her personality. She wanted frames that evoked intelligence and maturity yet were artistic and playful as well. Since she couldn’t find these kind of frames, she wanted to begin making her own. After meeting hippy-optician Valentin, who became the love of her life, the new lovers decided to combine their unique talents and artistic temperaments to create Anne et Valentin, an eyewear company dedicated to creating intelligent, quirky, colorful, artsy, post-modern, retro, and chic eyewear for the public.
The true purpose of the Anne et Valentin company has always been to strive for “a deeper comprehension of who their customers are – how they move, live and think—in order to find for each, the perfect frame, [one] dedicated to the customer’s unique personality and particularities.”
“Sweet alchemy mixing geometric cuts, brilliant colors and materials”
“Our mission,” as Valentin explains, is “to offer our customers more freedom: the freedom to BE YOURSELF, both as obviously and unexpectedly as possible.” Their ultimate goal is to produce a frame that not only reveals, but becomes a signature of the wearer’s personality. Valentin describes their artistic process when they were together as “Sweet alchemy mixing geometric cuts, brilliant colors and materials”
A Customer-Centered Focus
If you want frames that become your signature trademark, not just a fashion statement, Valentin is your designer. Anne et Valentin insists on being a small, independent, and highly customer-focused brand in order to keep in touch with the customer and to keep providing them with highly distinctive, meticulously crafted frames.
What Valentin adores about their independency is that it allows them to create glasses for a narrow, not mass, audience and to use the best optometrists in the field. As Valentin explains, “We will never take a broad approach to address more people – because then you need to go to simple designs. So we will continue to develop great frames for a narrow distribution that allow loyal relationships with the optical retailer and their customer.
Her glasses are typically geared toward women 35 and over, because, as Anne explains, “it’s only when you’re about 35 that you’ve constructed your own personality and you’re ready to project yourself – that you want to find elements to reveal your personality. The frame is one element – like the shirt, the shoes, the handbag.”
The Love Story Behind the Eyewear
As Valentin explains it, the sole existence of her eyewear company would simply not be if “two forces had [not] been struck by lightening during a chance encounter.” The deeply enmeshed couple thrived on living together, working together–eating together–the kind of love that everyone dreams of but few ever possess. As Valentin puts it, “Fate offered them a future, which they shared professionally and personally for thirty years, their hearts beating as one.”
This deeply enmeshed couple shared their entire lives with one another–living, working, eating, visiting fashion shows, art exhibits, museums, and vintage furniture, jewelry, and clothing stores that specialized in works from the ’50s and ’60s, before hand craftsmanship had become a thing of the past. They inspired each other intellectually, spiritually, emotionally — all the “allys” — a connection so special it made them want to sleep, eat, and work together forevermore. The pair inspired one another, loved one another, and created together until Valentin’s death in 2003.
Supreme Craftsmanship from Superior Materials
Anne et Valentin’s eyewear is made only in the Jura region of France and in Japan. The French specialize in acetate, plastic, and natural frame works, while the Japanese specialize in titanium, and have the highest quality titanium in the world. As Valentin explains, “we only produce in France and Japan and we’re proud of that – they’re key countries where we have quality. We use Italian acetate and buy our spare parts from Germany. Our acetate frames are made in two of the best factories in France. Our titanium frames are manufactured in Japan because this is where the best titanium products come from.”
Each frame that Anne et Valentin produces is the product of 30 days of processes. The quality of their eyewear is the product of many, many steps, thoughtful and inspired design, the best manufacturers and processes, and the best materials in the world. As Anne explains, however, although technology has allowed them to actually create frames for the world and not just Toulouse France, the “essential steps remain manmade.”
The Inspired Use of Color
Valentin takes her inspirations from all the tones present in the Mediterranean sea — blush pinks, mint greens, bluish-reds (to compliment complexions), turquoise, cerulean blues, and more neutral tones as well. If you log onto their webpage, you see in their “Inspiration of the Day” section, with pictures of the inspirations. One picture is of a beautiful, sparkling spider web drenched in raindrops, and another with a ladder descending into a beautiful lake lit with hues of copper, sky blue, and almost neon pinks with a ladder descending into it for swimming. The picture is captioned “Dive into life like you would in a lake, creating ripples of joy and splashes of love.”
Anne and Valentine lived on the banks of the Garonne River, near the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Although Valentin passed away in 2003, Anne Valentin carries on in the same house, inspired by the same hues in the waters — the same vision.
Anyone who shops Anne’s 80 collections, will come away impressed by the sheer range of highly original colors in her collection. Valentin explains that “our story [that’s] crafted into every detail of our collection [is] a color can be the subject of great controversy; a curve can unleash and inspire our designers [because] we constantly challenge our own preconceptions. That’s the real purpose to fulfill the essence of each identity.”
Reading any of the interviews with Anne Valentin one is immediately taken by her highly informed intelligence, her worldliness, and her passionate nature. She is obviously studied in art, theory, philosophy, deconstruction, post-modernism, and is highly dedicated to bringing her customers signature eyewear designed specifically with an eye toward capturing their personality. Anne’s world and inspirations are constantly evolving. In fact, my new obsession is keeping up with her constantly evolving lines of eyewear.