At 1269, we recognize that every luxury eyewear brand has its own story, its own identity, its own personality. And in celebration of all that makes our curated collection of designer sunglasses and eyeglasses unique, we’re excited to shine a spotlight on some of our most innovative brands.
In this article, we’re going to turn our lens (pardon the pun) on our illustrious Ahlem brand, its fascinating backstory, and its unique aesthetic, combining California cool with European sophistication, and mid-century vintage with future-focused modernity.
The Ahlem Story: From Parisian Promenades to the California Coast
The Ahlem story is truly a story of transcontinental success. It began at the very heart of European style, Paris, where the Ahlem’s founder, Ahlem Manai-Platt, was born and raised–and where she cultivated her unique style sensibility, an amalgamation of Continental chic and Bauhaus simplicity.
But it’s not just those European influences that give the Ahlem brand its distinctive flair. Ahlem Eyewear was launched in 2014 not in Paris but in Los Angeles, where Manai-Platt has lived with her family, including her husband and young son, for more than a decade. And that has infused the brand with a truly cosmopolitan aesthetic that defies all borders and boundaries, that eludes easy categorizations, that refuses to be constrained by geographical, historical, or stylistic taxonomies.
The Ahlem brand, in other words, is a brand that doesn’t play by the rules. And you can see this in the designer and founder’s steadfast commitment to both uncompromising quality and unapologetic non-conformity, in which echoes of the past intermingle with foreshadowing of the future. The result is a brand that is at once deliciously nostalgic and breathtakingly modern.
Ahlem achieves this sumptuous and sophisticated hybridity through its unique manufacturing processes. Ahlem specs and sunglasses are handcrafted by a select cadre of nine artisans headquartered in France, where they learned and perfected their craft at the knees of their fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers before them.
The freedom that the highly-localized Ahlem handcrafting process provides means that Manai-Platt, unlike other designers reliant on mass production, isn’t constrained by the trends of the season or the contingencies of the market. Rather, she is free to follow her own creative inspiration and, within a matter of months, the three French ateliers operating under the Ahlem brand bring her design vision into reality.
From there, her custom shades and prescription frames go on to populate her flagship L.A. store, as well as thriving secondary locations across California, New York City, Paris, and beyond. Often, these unique specs and sunnis find themselves in the hands of Hollywood A-listers and style mavens, from Kendall Jenner to Gigi Hadid to Jessica Alba.
A Material Difference
It’s not just the unique, hybrid aesthetic and innovative handcrafted design that solidifies Ahlem’s position in the highest echelons of luxury eyewear. The Ahlem difference is also rooted in the brand’s uncompromising commitment to quality standards that are truly second-to-none.
Driven by this standard, Ahlem eyewear is handcrafted from only the finest materials. Ahlem designer eyeglasses, for example, feature ultra-luxurious Cridal lenses, manufactured by the elite French optical manufacturer, Christian Dalloz. These Cridal lenses feature a signature anti-reflective coating and a distinctly lightweight feel, making them ideal for all-day wear.
But it doesn’t end there. All Ahlem metal frames are electroplated in genuine gold and feature titanium nose pads, lending to the ultra-luxurious feel of the materials.
Similarly, Ahlem’s vintage designs are forged in sumptuous Mazzuchelli acetate, the worldwide leader in the manufacture of superior quality cellulose acetate using processes that have been passed down through the Mazzuchelli for generations. The choice of Mazzuchelli acetate, in other words, is yet another discerning selection in a brand characterized by its rare combination of tradition and innovation, of cosmopolitan luxury and artisanal handcrafting.
A World of Inspiration
Because Ahlem remains, at heart, a small, family-owned and operated enterprise, it is uniquely and exuberantly free to seek and find creative inspiration wherever it may. And this is why the Ahlem brand boasts such a wide range of influences, such an eclectic design inventory that ensures that there is a perfect pair for every taste.
In addition to founding the company, Manai-Platt remains its chief designer, drawing inspiration from the world around her and designing and commissioning new lines in small batches as they come to her. And, because of this, Manai-Platt is able to delight in creations that speak to her own experiences and sensibilities, from the breathtaking architecture of her beloved Paris to the sophisticated modernity of the California coast to the natural beauty of the French countryside.
Indeed, nature influences abound in Ahlem eyewear. From vintage shapes including aviator, round, and CatEye frames to more contemporary designs, each is adorned at the temples with Ahlem’s distinctive filigree emblem. Many feature ornate engravings on the frames and intricate designs at the nose pads. A number of designs draw inspiration from and pay homage to the lush flora of rural France, including the Place des Alpes frames with their signature leaf patterns.
But the natural world is far from Manai-Platt’s only muse. Indeed, many of her designs are inspired by and often named for Parisian neighborhoods and landmarks. The Place de la Concorde sunglasses, for example, offer a modern twist on the classic aviator, featuring a double bridge and Palladium frame in 22k gold electroplating.
Likewise, the delicate Place des Victoires is as inviting as its namesake. The single bridge and round silhouette echo the shape of the Parisian landmark for which it is named. The beveled temples and softly engraved nose pads mirror the ornate carvings observed all around monuments around Paris. And, above all, the light airiness of the Palladium frames give the feel of a leisurely morning spent strolling the wind-swept streets and avenues of Paris in spring.
Ahlem and You
Owning a pair of designer Ahlem specs or sunglasses is like holding the entire world in your hands. From Paris to New York to Los Angeles, Ahlem combines the cosmopolitan and the countryside, vintage Hollywood with artisanal handcrafting. Contact 1269 today to find the Ahlem style that’s just right for you!