100%Optical, the first international annual optical show to be held at ExCeL London in February, 16 – 18, 2014, has forged a partnership with the world renowned Royal College of Art (RCA) to stage the all-new 100% eyewear design competition.
Launched in October 2013, the competition has attracted unprecedented interest from students and high profile support by industry. The finalists’ designs will be manufactured as prototypes and displayed in the ‘New Designers Gallery’ at ExCeL in February, with the ultimate winner being announced on the 100% Optical main stage.
The first stage of the ‘Face Furniture’ project concluded this week with the RCA confirming 65 students have submitted eyewear designs for the first round of the competition.
All of the student’s designs, including complete fashion ranges incorporating accessories as well as frames, will be presented on 19 November to a judging panel of industry experts including Jason Kirk, designer and founder of Kirk & Kirk, and key advisory judge; lead technical advisor and judge is Jesse Stevens, a designer for luxury sunglasses brands including Prada, Oliver Goldsmith and Cutler and Gross and RCA Fashion tutors Heather Holford and Flora McLean.
The eight finalists who most effectively fulfil the brief will be selected with four designs chosen from two categories – ‘high end luxury couture’ and ‘ready to wear’. Italian based company LAES has supported the competition by providing acetate sheets for the production of the final eight designs.
Flora McLean, Tutor in Fashion Footwear, Millinery and Accessories at the RCA said, “The interest and enthusiasm for the project amongst the students has been exceptional. We were overwhelmed at the competition launch when students queued along corridors to attend! The brief is unique because it’s open to students in Fashion, as well as other programmes including Ceramics & Glass, Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery and Design Products. It’s exciting for students to have the opportunity to work on a project for the optical and fashion frames design sector.”
Flora McLean added: “Optical design is often overlooked in the fashion world, but eyewear on the runway can bring credibility, seriousness and completeness to a collection. This competition has presented the students with an intense and challenging opportunity to deal with a completely different scale of design. Another exciting element is the fact that several programmes are participating, encouraging students to collaborate from different design disciplines. Some of the students may be inspired to follow in the footsteps of RCA jewellery graduate Alyson Magee, who has had a successful career in eyewear design.”
Industry support for the competition will be further enhanced with Marie Wilkinson, Design Director of Cutler and Gross, Robert Morris, Founder of William Morris and Roger Pope, Optician to the Queen joining the judging panel. Roger Pope comments: “This competition will showcase up-and-coming British design and innovation. I’ll be representing the dispensing opticians’ view when judging the finalists and I look forward to seeing the results.”