With Record Store Day just around the corner, French pop music-derived eyewear manufacturer Vinyl Factory brought some new models to Vision Expo to go with such established icon-evoking pieces as the Sinatra (Frank, of course), Osborne (Ozzy), Joplin (Janis), Gabriel (Peter), Wonder (Stevie) and Grohl (Dave).
The new ones included Amos (Tory), Matronic (Ana, from Scissors Sisters), Flint (Keith, from Prodigy), Vega (Susan), Waters (Roger), Vedder (Eddie), Chassagne (Régine, from Arcade Fire), Fenty (Rihanna) and Knowles (Beyonce)—not to mention the Shakur (Tupac) sunglasses.
“They’re retro styles,” said Vinyl Factory territory manager Jessica Leach, “all throwbacks to when there were vinyl records—the 1950s to the ‘80s.”
A musician who toured with Eric Clapton actually came by the Vinyl Factory booth and saw the company’s tortoise-and-black Clapton piece.
“He said Eric would like them!” said Leach. Fellow guitar great Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top, had he passed by, might have liked the light brown Gibbons frame, as well.
“It’s the kind of frame I imagine he might be wearing--if he were to wear frames,” said Cedric Rizzo, export manager for Vinyl Factory, which is based in suburban Paris.
Gibbons, in fact, often wears shades.
"I pick names for the models based on the style and spirit of the frame,” Rizzo continued. “I have 200 to 300 artist names from various bands I like—not only famous ones but indies and more obscure ones.”
In less than two years, Vinyl Factory has approximately 100 models—but in addition to the 300-some names Rizzo already has in mind, “I could add another 300 tomorrow!” he said. “I’m a big music fan.”
But really, that’s what the company’s all about. Rizzo pointed to a few frames on hand.
“This is the [Chuck] Berry,” he said. “The big frame would fit him.”
Likewise, the cat-eyed Ditto, named for Gossip’s Beth Ditto, was appropriately funky, whereas the Cash’s “square frame and tough-looking” appearance fit Rizzo’s impression of Johnny Cash.
“Some frames are designed before they’re named,” he noted, adding that Vinyl Factory also “tries to make frames the artists could wear.” And while it’s “more difficult to have women’s names since there are less female singers and bands,” Rizzo notes that there are nevertheless as many women’s frames as men’s frames, what with the Isaak, as “Chris is a crooner,” and the [Thom] Yorke, as “a lot of girls like Radiohead.”
Meanwhile, Vinyl Factory is an official sponsor in France of Record Store Day (April 20), annually observed internationally at independent record stores on the third Saturday of April.
“I really insisted on that,” said Rizzo. “I want our brand to be related to the power of music lovers, and Record Store Day is like Christmas for music lovers!”
And with that Rizzo reached for a Vinyl Factory sunglasses case, embossed with “Let the sunshine on me” (from Travis Porter’s “Sunshine On Me”; optical cases feature “Can’t get my eyes off you”) and pulled out a round, black microfiber cleaner cloth.
“It’s the original Sun Records label!” he said, pointing to the rooster icon beneath the famous Sun logo. “The rooster is also the symbol of France!”
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