For our interview series this week, we sat down with Eden Wexler, Director of Public Relations for Safilo USA and we got her inside scoop on how she started in the industry, her more than 17 years worth of personal experiences fitting celebrities with sunglasses, and her life long love affair with eyewear.
1. How long have you been fitting celebrities with sunglasses manufactured by Safilo?
I joined Safilo Group, the second largest global eyewear manufacturer/distributor headquartered in Padua, Italy, in 1999 to lead the company’s first in-house PR department in the U.S. I’ve always loved all things Hollywood (I went to a performing arts school) and was quickly trying to figure out the best way to get our eyewear into the hands (and onto the eyes) of well-known celebrities as I felt that this was the sure-fire way to create a lot of PR momentum for our brands.
2. Can you tell us how you got started fitting celebrities?
After only a few months at Safilo, I secured a story in Entertainment Weekly about the reading glasses I sent to Madonna after receiving a request from her team. As a result of that story, I received a call from a producer of the Donny & Marie (Osmond) talk show because Marie found herself needing eyeglasses, too. I was flown to L.A. and did an eyeglasses segment and fit them both – for the first time – on camera. So, I guess you could say that Donnie (my school girl crush) and Marie were my first celebrity eyewear fittings – done in front of a live studio audience as well national TV audience of millions of people. It was scary at the time, as it was my first in camera appearance (I’ve done many since then) but so much fun!
Knowing that sending glasses to celebrities in high profile gift bags wasn’t going to get our eyewear brands a lot of PR mileage in the long run as glasses are such a personal choice and proper fit was extremely important, I made it my mission to develop a lot of important Hollywood industry relationships that could help me get to the actors and/or musicians directly to do personalized fittings with them. Within a year’s time I had fit hundreds of big name celebrities at their homes, offices, in between takes on a TV set, in the hair/makeup trailer of a movie set and at a lot of high profile celebrity events either backstage or in a lounge environment.
3. What style considerations do you factor in when selecting frames for a celebrity? How many do you select and what is the styling process like for you?
I focus in on the size and shape of their eye area while instantaneously taking into account their skin tone and hair color and size and shape of their face. I know this might sound strange but for me, doing an eyewear fitting is similar to work on a puzzle and finding that missing piece that fits perfectly. I like to start off with between five-10 pairs, not to overwhelm them. I then ask them to smile to see how the glasses fit their cheeks and nose bridge. Then, I weigh in with my feedback as to why I think the glasses work well for them or don’t and then ask them what they think. The nice thing about working with celebrities that I know, is that I already have a sense of their personal style and what they generally like to wear and gravitate to – which helps. But, sometimes, I really want to take them in a completely different direction based on the season’s hottest trends which they might not be comfortable with at first but they almost always come around and go with the first pair I recommend for them.
4. What styles/brand do celebrities lean towards?
It really depends on the celebrity. Some prefer to wear only the high end designer fashion brands such as Dior, Givenchy, Gucci and Fendi while others don’t care which brand they are wearing as long as the glasses compliment their features or the brand really resonates with their personality. Jared Leto, for example, is the star of the Carrera 2016 #Maverick campaign and currently serves as the brand’s ambassador. He’s the perfect embodiment of a real-world maverick.
Right now, there a lot of interesting and different trends that the celebrities are gravitating towards. On one end of the spectrum, there are some great styles with a ‘70s vintage feel while, at the other end, there are some very modern and futuristic looks out there with flat and/or mirrored lenses. Overall, sunglasses have been elevated to a whole other level. The newest sunglasses are very bold, expressive, artistic, creative and visually interesting to look at. Round eye shapes, in general, are still extremely popular as well as aviator shapes which never go out of style and are a perennial favorite of celebrities. Our Carrera, Dior, Dior Homme, Givenchy, Gucci, Fendi, Jimmy Choo, kate spade new york, Max Mara, Tommy Hilfiger and Polaroid collections are extremely popular with celebrities at the moment.
5. How many celebrities have you fit over the years and can you divulge some of the biggest names you’ve fit?
I estimate that I’ve fit over 10,000 celebrities with sunglasses from our Safilo brands at events such as the Cannes Film Festival, the MTV Movie Awards, the Sundance Film Festival, the Grammy Awards, the Tony Awards, the HBO Emmy’s and Golden Globe Luxury Lounges, the Toronto Film Festival, the Billboard Music Awards, as well as the Miss Universe pageant.
Some of the biggest names I’ve fit include Beyonce, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Anniston, Rihanna, Jennifer Garner, Justin Bieber, Sarah Jessica Parker, Katy Perry, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis… and many many more!
6. What are some of your favorite celebrity sunglass fitting moments?
I have so many, but here are some of my favorite memories…
- Fitting Michael Douglas in between takes during his appearance on Will & Grace and always loved fitting Debra Messing (I Adore her!) and the cast when I was down on the set.
- Fitting Mathew McConaughey at the SXSW music festival. The only celebrity who ever made me blush. He had so much charisma and I’m a sucker for a southern accent!
- Being driven to a private location with her bodyguard at the Sundance Film Festival to fit Britney Spears with sunglasses.
- Fitting the entire cast of some of my favorite TV shows: The Sopranos, Sex and the City and True Blood at the HBO Luxury Lounges in L.A
- Fitting Robert Downey Jr. at Sundance. He was really excited to pose for photos for me – in the snow – in his new glasses. He was super zany and fun!
- Fitting Liza Minnelli in her trailer at the Macy’s Passport charity event in L.A. She was everything you’d expect she’d be.
- Fitting Henry Winkler AKA Fonzie at an event in L.A. He is probably the nicest celebrity I ever met!
- I even got duped by a class-act Lenny Kravitz imposter at the MTV Movie Awards. Sadly, Lenny did not wind up with the glasses I thought I gave him! MTV did a whole news story about the imposter.
7. Any special fitting tips you can offer that you use with celebrities to fit them with sunglasses?
The general rule is that you should select sunglasses that are opposite of your face shape. For example, if you have a round face, stay away from round glasses. Pick something that is rectangular or geometric to provide balance.
Keep an open mind and be willing try glasses outside of your comfort zone as a new pair of sunglasses can make you feel really good about yourself. They can easily update your wardrobe and give you a different persona while wearing them which can be a lot of fun.
Proper fit is extremely important. Beyond looking fabulous in them, you want to be sure that the glasses protect your eyes from the sun damaging UV rays. Make sure that the glasses are providing adequate coverage under and around the eye area and sit properly on your nose bridge and ears without resting heavily on the cheeks. And, don’t trust your eyes to a street vendor, be sure to visit a retailer that sells reputable brands to insure that you are getting UV protection and quality lenses.
Here’s a check list of things to consider when trying on new sunglasses:
- Do the “smile test” – works every time – if you smile and the glasses noticeably raise off your nose bridge?
(This illustrates improper fitting, move on to the next pair!)
- Do the glasses extend too far off of the sides of my face?
(A sign that the glasses are too big for your features.)
- Are my eyes centered in the lenses?
(If not, the frames are too big for you.)
- Do the endpieces on the temples not rest properly over my ears?
(A sign of the glasses being too small – this happens to a lot of men with larger features.)
- Do the glasses let in too much sunlight on the bottom or sides of the frame?
(If so the glasses are too small for you and another sign of a bad fit – men make this mistake a lot!!)
- Do these glasses work with my current coloring and hairstyle?
(Sometimes you need different glasses for different hairstyles, times of year, occasions and if your weight fluctuates greatly!)