Alain Mikli Throws Shades in LA

Published December 19, 2011

ABOVE: ALAIN MIKLI.

Alain Mikli, the Armenian-Lebanese eyewear designer who works in Paris, is probably most readily affiliated with the creation of Kanye West’s infamous “shutter shades,” and his iconic frames for celebrities like Elton John and Bono. Known for designs that infuse a bit of wit with decadence—lenses made out of shot glasses, frames held together with a leather sport strap—along with more classic reading frames, Alain does not attract one “typical” consumer.

Despite running a company for over 30 years and having 25 stores open worldwide, his recent store opening in Los Angeles (20 years in the making) required a bit of rumination of the nervy designer as he considered his clientele. “It is different. That’s why I was scared to open a store here. Los Angeles is a unique city in the world in terms of people; the style, the way they live. And I have to create a collection for this market.” Despite Mikli’s concerns, we doubt the designer will hit any roadblocks in his creation process, which involves a healthy dose of improvisation. “When I start to do a design for someone, I never know what to do until we meet. I like to play with the character of people; I like to make a joke. It’s a question of humor.”

As befits the boutique’s new 90210 zip code, the opening of his shop also springboarded a relaunch of his sporty collection for the iconic California brand VUARNET, as well as his most recent collaboration with Jean Paul Gautier, characterized by primarily retro cat-eye and rectangular frames with double- and triple-stacked frame arms. Frames customized by children at local hospitals were also presented alongside Mikli’s own creations.

The Alain Mikli boutique is located at 9509 Little Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills and, just in time for the holiday season, Mikli is currently donating a portion of all sales to The Art of Elysium, a non-profit organization that provides artistic workshops for children with medical conditions.