Elisabeth Leau is the designer and creative director behind Deep Shallow Exposition – a unique brand about luxury, handmade eyewear.
I met her two years ago and was instantly stunt. It’s not everyday that you meet beautiful, young people who know exactly what they want and how to get it. But still remain true to themselves, their heritage and ethos. Elisabeth is definitely one of them. I knew it the moment she told me about her grandfather, Auguste, who started his eyewear business in postwar Athens (1946) – instead of crying over ruins, he chose the creative process and rose above it all. And he remained true to his calling, until his retirement, back in the ‘90s.
His granddaughter, a talented architect (that had previously studied at St. Martins in London) decided to resurrect his old factory, that still remained outside the city center, back in 2013. She rolled up her sleeves and got to work. The first pairs of sunglasses were immediately sold out. No wonder: they were unique, handmade, truly luxurious. Proof that architecture is actually visual art – the reaching out for the truth.
“The sun never knew how great it was, until he hit the side of a building”, said once the great Louis Kahn. And the precious lenses of a beautiful pair of sunglasses, I would add.
ON PERSONAL STYLE
Who is your favorite fashion designer in the world?
So many wonderful people, especially pioneers like Yves Saint Laurent and Coco Chanel, but I will always have strong emotions about the wonderful, late Alexander McQueen.
Who would you die to collaborate with?
McQueen would be the one, if he were still here with us.
What was your last purchased item? Can you remember?
A pair of fine Italian craftsmanship black boots. This time a year I always buy boots, to celebrate autumn and its new beginnings.
What perfume do you wear?
Tom Ford, warm and dark essence.
What watch do you wear?
I don’t believe in wearing watches.
Which are your favorite colors?
My surroundings and what I prefer to wear are all either white, black or grey. I need empty canvases around me, for my imagination to run free.
Which fabric describes you and your personal style best?
I love cashmere. I’ve always had.
Name the woman you have looked up to, while growing up. Who inspired you to be the woman you have become now?
I am blessed with a mother of exquisite style and incomparable ethos. I owe everything to her.
What is the first thing you would teach your children, in things style?
Aesthetics is the most important, somewhere
in there lies style, too.
Name the most stylish woman (dead or alive).
My mother, of course.
What inspires you the most for your designs?
The people around me, Bauhaus furniture, architecture, nature, to me everything has a certain shape and everything is an inspiration – as long as you pay close attention and keep your eyes wide open.
Designing luxury eyewear– was it a wish from your childhood days?
I grew up playing around with sunglasses, it was an inevitable love.
Is the Greek-heritage-influence visible in your collections? As part of who you are? If yes, what does it translate to, when it comes to eyewear?
Of course, Greece is a wonderful place. It’s a blessed land and fruitful – in every meaning. Many poets praised the almighty Greek sun, and through my “art” I intend to do the same.
How important are the components/materials used? What constitutes luxury, when it comes to eyewear?
Luxury is quality. I believe in quality. A good quality lasts forever, you can literally tell the difference. I am very precise with the materials I use, I want only the absolute finest and best.
Which piece are you particularly proud of creating? Is there one you consider to be archetypal for the very essence of your own brand’s DNA?
I know it’s a cliché, but they are all my babies, everything I have designed and made so far – I have spent so many wonderful hours with all of them.
Is there one specific piece that you perhaps were even a little jealous of the designer who created it?
I adore my grandfather’s sunglasses. Even though they are different from what I design. It was an era where eyewear was an extension of someone’s self, golden era you might say. They were simply brilliant in their simplicity, following function and curves.
What was the most important lesson you have learned from working at your grandfather’s atelier / space / factory and with some of his materials?
That, in design and manufacture, everything matters, even the smallest detail.
Who is really the woman in your imagination/creation process? What does she look like?
My work is gender-less, in my mind I only have great, timeless style. In that sense The Great Gatsby and Steve McQueen were and will always be an inspiration. Their women, accordingly.
What can we expect from you in the future? What will be different?
As I grow, my work will mature with me. After all, the creative process never stops. It’s inevitable.
Where do you imagine yourself to be ideally in –say- ten years from now, professionally speaking?
I would love my sunglasses to reach each and every corner of the world.
Cheers to a brave, ever creative future! And may it always be as bubbly as our beloved Moët & Chandon! Every single day!
[All images shot with Olympus Pen EPL-7.]