I sat down this month with my pal, Jen Coppel, VP of Brand Management at Tura to chat about design and two of her newest celebrity collections; Gwen Stefani and Kate Young.
Jen is one of those creative people it’s a pleasure to hang out with. Seeing her in the studio surrounded by sketches, materials and samples is an inspiration and a testament to the thoughtfulness and creativity that goes in all that she designs.
As a designer, Jen’s background was a perfect marriage for Tura, as they are credited with being one of the “original fashion eyewear companies”. Launching with Christian Dior, Tura established early on that eyewear can be about fashion and beauty. Tura partnered with Vogue in the 60’s and patented aluminum frames in the 40’s. One of the first to consider eyewear as jewelry, Tura pioneered the concept that eyewear is about beauty both on the face and in your hand.
Jen recently launched two new lines that are flying off shelves. The Kate Young collection is sophisticated and effortless, just like Kate herself. And the Gwen Stefani collection is…. well…. a perfect reflection of Gwen. Striking, edgy and cool, its everything you want it to be. Both collections were created to be on-trend yet affordable.
The Gwen Stefani collection is the perfect reflection of the singer and fashion icon herself: bold, striking and unexpected. Designed to reflect Gwen’s personal style, each frame in the collection references her language and style preferences. Featuring unique combinations of green, tort, rose and browns, with edgy shapes and interesting accents, the bold collection makes a statement.
When selecting the final collection, it came down to: would Gwen wear this? A master of blending her iconic bold style with the feminine, the collection is a mixture of urban shapes, dramatic colors and exaggerated textures that truly reflect the distinctive musician.
Kate Young, the renowned stylist to the stars has a sophisticated and classic style. Kate got her start in the fashion world as an assistant to Anna Wintour at Vogue. Her collection reflects her deep understanding of personal style and fashion, with a focus on classic shapes and colors with a twist. Much of her collection has a retro feel to it, taking cues from old Hollywood and vintage eyewear and infusing them with modern details and materials. Filled with the highest quality materials, the collections subtle shapes, tinted lenses and unique colors such as Champaign showcase the level of detail and craftsmanship the stylist is known for.
Her vintage inspiration even includes the classic red “Sally Jessy Raphael” frame that put Tura on the map in the early 80’s. Kate was inspired by this vintage stunner and modernized the frame for a red, rose and crystal story in her current collection.
Innovative. Fashionable. Cool. Read on to hear more about how Jen Coppel brought these two new collections to life and to learn where her inspiration comes from.
Tura has a long history with Fashion brands. How has that inspired you when designing?
Design history is a strong love of mine. I purposely went to a school with a rich design history to get my MFA. So, naturally, when I joined Tura, I was extremely excited to learn all about it’s special place in the history of fashion eyewear. Tura has always been known as an innovative design company, one that is ahead of the curve. I take this legacy very seriously. I think about it often when designing new collections, and work hard to make sure each new collection lives up to this reputation.
Your newest collections are a true reflection of the designer themselves. What process do you go through to stay true to their brand and reflect the in the actual collections?
First, we spend as much time as possible talking to the designers, discussing design themes, and discussing what’s really important to them. We always keep in mind that they are the experts on their brand. There is no point in trying to convince them to do something “off brand” just because you think it will sell. In my opinion, what always sells is authenticity. So, it’s critical to be true to the brand at all times. Each of our licensors review all designs from concept through completion. We take their feedback very seriously. It truly takes time to get to know a brand well, and it starts with creating a strong relationship with the stewards of the brand. The better we know them, the easier it is to design for the brand.
Tell us about The iconic “red frame” and how this influenced Kate Young.
For the past 30 years, we have been selling the model 311. This is the frame that Sally Jesse Raphael wore on her talk show in the 80’s. Kate loves the retro quality of this frame. It’s over- sized, thin, and has tinted lenses. The original was made through an injection process. Kate asked us to re-make the frame for her collection, so to elevate the frame, we handmade it in acetate, adding small details to make it uniquely Kate Young for Tura.
We have spoken a lot about craftsmanship. Can you expand on what that means to you and how you integrate your love of craftsmanship into your designs.
Tura is also known for it’s extremely high quality level. I have a hand craft jewelry and metalsmithing background. I used to hand make metal jewelry, door hardware, furniture etc. I try to integrate this love of hand craft into every frame we design. Therefore, when we design frames, regardless of the brand, we consider the whole frame—outside, inside, hinges, fit, and how it glazes. For me, the inside of the temple is just as important to consider as the outside of the temple. It’s important to me that we craft our frames, not simply manufacture them.
All of your collection use interesting materials and shapes. How do you select materials and match them to a shape?
Deciding what colors to use for new designs is one the biggest joys in designing frames. We have a large library of colors which we constantly comb for new ideas. We create a palette each season for each brand. We do this with the specific acetate materials we want to use. The thickness of the shape, the beveling and carving we want is what often guides which specific acetate to use. For example, a thicker shape can showcase a wide pattern. Or a shape with a strong bevel may look amazing in a laminated color.
Eyewear as jewelry is a theme that is consistent in your work. Tell us about how you connect the creating jewelry with designing eyewear.
The Tura brand has always been known for making jewelry for the face. Since I have a jewelry background, I am very inspired by this legacy. I want each frame we create to be as beautiful and thoughtful as a piece of fine jewelry. We are very careful to make sure our metal details fit and align perfectly. Some of our brands use very bold metal elements to make a statement. These design elements are not easy to manufacture. We hold our vendors to a very high quality level and enforce a perfect finish and a precise fit.
Quote/Mantra you live by or are inspired by:
Creativity needs to be at the root of everything you do—in design, in business, in marketing. If you are not moving forward, you are moving backwards.