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Ahlem

Ahlem

Paris born, LA-based sunglasses designer Ahlem Manai-Platt wants you to know she’s not out to save the human race.

“As passionate and driven as we want to be, it’s key to realize that we are not saving people’s lives or ending hunger in the world,” she has said. “We are lucky to work on great creative and inspiring projects and we should be mindful of that.”

Ahlem Brushed Rose Gold Place du Pont Neuf Sunglasses

A former buyer for Acne and Miu Miu, Ahlem launched her low-key optical brand just over four years ago and these days counts Beyonce, Jessica Alba and John Legend as clients.

The key to her success is her psychological insight that sunglasses are a means of both self-expression and disguise.

“I always thought a beautiful piece of eyewear defines the person wearing it,” Ahlem says.  “For me, it has a lot do with the relationship between function and beauty. Between what you are and how you want to be perceived. It’s very interesting.”

Gigi Hadid in Ahlem Place de Victoires Sunglasses

The Ahlem collection revolves around the designer's home town of Paris, with every piece named after a train station or monument. There’s Place du Pont Neuf, for example with a silhouette that echoes its namesake, and the Place de la Concorde – a tongue-in-cheek take on the traditional aviator shape.

“Paris’ architecture, smells, and shapes are in my DNA,” the designer explains.

Impressively, every pair of Ahlem sunglasses is palladium electroplated with real gold, and assembled by hand in an atelier in Oyonnax - a settlement in France’s Haut Jura best known for wooden comb manufacturing.

Ahlem Manai-Platt

“We fell absolutely in love with the people there,” says Ahlem. “Real craftsmen. This town has been making glasses for three hundred, four hundred years. It's the real way to do it.”

Ahlem’s first retail was Paris’ iconic Colette, and her sunglasses are now stocked at a small number of the world’s best boutiques, including Sorry Thanks I Love You.

Ahlem Champagne Place de Chapelle Sunglasses

“I believe [sunglasses] are objects of beauty that can stand on their own,” says Ahelm, “so it’s important to get all the details right: amazing hinges, great size temple, incredible lenses, comfortable nose pad —all these little things are so important!” 

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Shop highlights from Ahlem’s range in store now and online here.