• About Séamus

    Originally from Northern Ireland, I came to England seventeen years ago. My first proper job was in an opticians and I have never left the industry since (apart from one month at a bespoke shirt makers). I have sixteen years experience of the eyewear industry and have a passion for handmade spectacles and sunglasses with an eye on innovation in design.

  • Milan.

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    So now I have had time to recover, just about, from the excesses of the Mido optical trade show in Milan, I wanted to give you a report.

    The famous Duomo.

    The general feeling is that the show was poorly attended and I have to admit that there did seem to be lots of room to move, I was never turned away from a booth that I didn’t have an appointment with and it only took thirty minutes to get a sandwich at a price Gordon Ramsey would wince at. Well I suppose if you are going to pay three people to do the job of one then you will have overheads to meet.

    If you haven’t been exposed to the Milanese food counter system then it works like this. What you do is, have a look at what you want, then go to the till, try to explain what it is you want to a till operator who does not speak english while pointing at a sandwich under the counter several metres away and repeating your order in cod Italian in the hope that something will spark in the mind of the till operator. Eventually you are given a ticket which you must take to one person for your food and another for your drink. Nobody but the Italians understands this and the food counter is a mess of people trying to work it out, queueing for ages at the food person only to be told they have to go to the till first, general chaos ensues. Luckily I am an old hand now and can negotiate the situation like Berlusconi at a bunga bunga party.

    The covered walkway from the metro to the show. Only three miles more to go.

    So what did I find for you guys (as this was the reason I went and not a tax deductible jolly!)? Well, before I had even checked into the hotel, I met with a young French guy who has just launched his first collection. We met a few years ago when he was looking for work in London as an assistant and I was very pleased to make his acquaintance again recently, especially as he told me about his collection that he was launching. Before last weekend I had only seen photographs but I knew it was going to be something special. They are hand made in Auxerre, about 100 miles from Paris. Wonderful colours and great solid design. As with everything we sell, the quality is top notch and I will tell you more when they arrive.

    I had time to catch up with Kilsgaard and choose some new styles. Their plastic collection has been a great success at the store and we are nearly out of them. More on the way soon.

    Sarah from Kilsgaard showing your's truly, the new styles

    I also spent some time with Framers (a bit too much time but more of that later)who this year are missing Sarah, their designer. Sarah had her first baby a few weeks ago and is taking a year out to look after the baby. I was reliably informed that she was working extra hard before she finished to design next years collection so that we will continue to have new things while she is gone.

    Of course, no visit to Milan would be complete with out the one woman whirlwind that is Patty Paillette. Patty had some lovely new styles to show me and if you have not been exposed to the wonders of Patty Paillette Eyewear yet, this photo will give you some idea of the style she aspires to.

    Patty Paillette with chair, but what a chair!

    I have mentioned that she is a multi talented designer over on the designers page and here she is with one of her signature pieces of furniture. She was very keen that you should all see this.

    Finally, I have ordered an amazing collection of accessories. Designed by Caroline Abram, the acetate and metal parts are hand made in France and Italy. The beads are made in India and Thailand and everything then shipped to Senegal (where Caroline spent her childhood) and a team of workers there assemble them. Soon we will have chains, lornettes, loupes and monocles here in the store. I am really excited about them and can’t wait to show what they look like.

    So with my last day at the show over, I thought I had gotten off lightly with the socialising that makes up a large part of these shows. Until that is, I was collared by Coco from Framers into going to dinner with them. I love the guys from Framers, they are funny and generous and charming, but they are also German. So after an evening of beer and pizza and wine and laughs and whiskey, I was pretty much done in the next day. All I could do was to slope off to the airport with my head down and wait for the plane to bring me back to reality.

    Malpensa Airport with the Alps in the distance

    3 Responses to Milan.

    1. Brian Mc Ginn says:

      You nailed that food counter malarkey… Always safer to hit up the cafe one block up from Hall 24 – Servers stand in front of the food and you take your tasty hot meal straight to the till operator.

      None of that back and forth nonsense…

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