Eyewear design requires talent and skills. Shapes, colors and textures are meant to highlight a person’s unique features and style.
Philippe Vergez is considered a master of the form. Called “the Manolo Blahnik of eyewear,” Philippe’s designs have adorned numerous celebrity faces and protected many famous and beautiful eyes.
Fortunately for all of us, Philippe has designed a new line of luxury accessories, including stunning eyewear, under his PHILIPPE V banner.
As his company states: PHILIPPE V is a “brand whose purpose is to unite like-minded individuals behind the motto: ‘The soul that sees beauty shall not walk alone.'”
Fortunately for fashion-forward folk, PHILIPPE V is available in key cities across 25 countries worldwide exclusively through a network of high-end independent optical retailers and fashion specialists.
We’re proud to call Philippe our friend. Not only is he super-talented, but he sees the world through different lenses – and we’re all better for it.
Without further ado…
The NewsWhistle Q&A with Designer Philippe Vergez
Name: Philippe Vergez (above)
Age (if you want to give it up): Yeah, I gave up on counting… 🙂
Current town: Hong Kong – Los Angeles – Biarritz or in between….
Occupation: Artistic Director
Please describe your line of products:
PHILIPPE V creates eyewear, jewelry, leather goods, and wearables that help people make their mark, and has created a meaningful brand that brings people together behind a common belief in strong individualism. Yet, it is done in a subtle, tasteful and high-quality package.
Please describe your style:
My style reflects authentic Anarchist values. A direct reflection of the rock’n’roll attitude buried deep inside me which is a refusal to be tamed, a desire to live an unconformed life and a thirst for freedom.
The WN5.1 has been nominated as “Best Technical Sunglass” for this year’s LOFTxTEF Awards.
How long have you been a professional designer? And what is your earliest design memory?
I’ve been a professional designer for over 15 years. I had a surgery when I was five and I remember my dad offering me a Meccano. I instantly became addicted to it and started making all kind of things. Subsequently, as I was growing up, I kept making the things I needed, mostly because I could not afford them. These included skateboards, surfboards, jewelry, and also customizing my tee-shirts and jeans than my mom helped me stitch.
What has been the best design trend in the last five to ten years? And what has been the worst?
The best has probably been the influence of the underground and the underrated revival of punk-rock (which was unfortunately hijacked by some fashion houses). The worst, with no doubt, is that hipster movement.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve heard? And do you follow it?
Follow your dreams, trust yourself, listen to your inner voice and pay close attention to what your guts tell you. While I did as much of that as I could and as often as I could, the responsibilities and pressure of life got in the way at some point and I had to postpone my personal projects – until I realized I was slowly dying (figuratively). As such, I had to take some tough decisions to reach the level of freedom that allowed me to be myself, once more.
As PHILIPPE V says: “If you ever have a shot at being inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the WN5.1 will ensure you make it.”
What is your favorite place to shop, anywhere in the world, and why?
The Vault in Laguna Beach. It is and has always been my favorite store in the whole world.
What music, movie, book or magazine gets you ready to sketch or brainstorm?
I find that down-tempo rock with gut wrenching melodies provoke the most intense brain activity. Jack Kerouac, Hunter S Thompson, Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud also excite my cortex. And despite the fact that I will stop wearing black when a darker color become available (LOL), nature’s own colors, in particular the shades of the sky at dawn provoke deep creative emotions. Must be the surfer in me talking…
What is the question a person should never ask you, and how would you answer?
Any question about my personal life… Please and sincerely, go fuck yourself!
If you can have one photographer shoot an advertising campaign for you, who would that be and why?
Something in the vein of what we’ve just done for our first campaign (see below). Honestly, the name doesn’t really matter. What matters is the photographer’s ability to understand our essence and message and capture it so that reflects a brand that has a strong purpose, portrays a sense of belonging and resonates across a spectrum of generations. And as we do not often use models, the photographer needs to be strong in dealing with real people and extracting their inner-selves during a shoot.
Craftsmanship: The DonSILVER Ring.
What’s the funniest or saddest thing that’s happened to you this week?
I would have loved to laugh more actually, but this week has been fairly uneventful mood-wise. A few things made me smile, others made me mad, but nothing really out of the ordinary. Bummer!
What’s your favorite movie? And why?
I have two, Meet Joe Black and Legends of the Fall. Funny enough, Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins star in both and their performances are outstanding. Meet Joe Black is without a doubt one of the best movies I have ever seen. A three-hour long emotional piece about death that devours your attention – you do not see time flying – the film is simply beautiful. The photography, the set designs, the music, and the actors’ performance of course. The other time Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt were reunited on screen was in the equally sublime Legends of the Fall, and once again they put in their best performances forward.
What’s the biggest risk you took in life?
Leaving a steady job to start my own venture. I didn’t have much money saved but I had the guts to let my passion do the talking. It was like jumping off a cliff and building a plane during the fall to avoid a hard landing or dare I say a fatal crash. The plane is still in the making by the way…
From PHILIPPE V’s First Ad Campaign.
If you could go back in time and do one thing over, what would that be?
Spend more time with my Dad. Play more. Laugh more.
Tell us your favorite joke:
It’s a nice day outside, I think I’ll wear black…
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
When I was younger, I was so shy, I could not even enter a shop or a restaurant on my own. Seriously, don’t laugh!
Who’s your favorite celebrity? And why?
More of a writer than a celebrity, Jack Kerouac, a rebel and inspirational human being…. He’s written poems and used words that have always inspired me throughout life. My favorite:
“Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They invent. They imagine.
They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do…”
On a more current level, I always loved Johnny Depp and Lenny Kravitz. But lately the person who impressed me the most is that little girl Greta Thunberg and the international movement she is creating towards fighting climate change. She deserves the Nobel Peace Prize by far over the other nominees.
Mala – “To each its own: this Mala bracelet helps boost self-confidence using a combination of A-grade Yellow Tigers Eyes and Rainbow Obsidian stones.”
What’s your strangest phobia or superstition?
I believe that our thinking and behavior directly influence our lives. Positivity and respect of others lead to a better life, creating success and happiness – it is strangely powerful. Being a kind and positive person highly reduces stress and I’m working on it every day to make it a way of life. As long as people do not mistake kindness for weakness, no one gets hurt.
Other than yourself, who has created the (a) most beautiful piece of eyewear, (b) the coolest piece of eyewear, and (c) the most extravagant piece of eyewear?
Most extravagant must be Hugo Martin from Parasite Eyewear, the coolest for me are still the Ray Ban’s aviators designed by John Macready and his daughter Sally Macready Wallace back in 1920! For the most beautiful, I’m working very hard on it (LOL).
The Lilly – “Philippe V’s Fleur de Lys expresses nobility and generosity of the heart and soul, helping steer life, opening hearts and minds to others.”
Tell us more about your new company.
It’s been a dream brought to life with the help of a few kindred spirits… I’ve been working three years on it, preparing and designing the collections along with Thierry Halbroth who’s been able to define the brand, shape and craft words true to the essence of the thoughts deeply buried inside me. As a result, it helped me better express my emotions and the vision I had for my designs and in the quest for the perpetual pursuit for uniqueness.
Today, three years after our launch, we still have the same determination on providing the best products, best designs.
It’s not an easy journey to launch a brand and reach people’s mind. We do not have the funding power of bigger brands but we are doing incredibly well, driven by passion. It requires a lot of tears, sweat and blood but we are the kind who never give up on our dream… And now brilliant people are coming to help us and reach the next step.
Thierry Halbroth, Co-Founder – “Another creative mind, Thierry is the man behind Philippe V’s words and branding, working hand-in-hand with Philippe to build and sustain the brand’s equity.”
Why do you enjoy living in Hong Kong? How is it for business? Are there any tips that you would give first-time visitors?
It’s a multicultural place where you meet exceptional people. And while it’s probably the most expensive city in the world, everything and anything is possible here. If you dream it, it can happen, but for that, you’ve got to be quick and always alert to seize the opportunities.
Hong Kong is often too hot, very humid so you have more chances to catch a cold or a flu from the icy-cold air-conditioning inside buildings or taxis. Beaches around Hong Kong are phenomenal and not many people are aware of the sceneries available but at the moment, we’re suffering from a severe case of ocean pollution, which is affecting water quality and watersports activities in general. It’s looking like the authorities are finally aware of it and doing something about it. I do hope spectacular actions will be taken to remedy the issue and that within a year or less, things will be back to normal.
A tip to make the most of living here: Don’t always default to your western habits. Open your mind and dive into the Hong Kong culture because every little thing you may find shocking or disgusting at first has a deep meaning which once understood can become acceptable and help you appreciate Hong Kong and its people.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever designed? The worst?
The best and worst are most likely the same. On one end, an infamous piece of eyewear, on the other a dysfunctional piece of eyewear…
Which celebrities (both male and female) wear sunglasses the best?
Ray Charles… Have you ever been able to picture him without his Wayfarers? Anna Wintour, different brand but for the very same reason. I would also add Lenny Kravitz…
Please answer the following and elaborate:
Name your favorite…
Les Fleurs du Mal – Charles Baudelaire, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson, highly recommended;
“Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” – Neil Young;
“Poisson Coco” – A Tahitian fish dish;
The Standard – in Los Angeles; and
Chrome – by Azzaro.
For The Boys – “If you can’t be the change, the N3.1 will be the change you need.”
What three items must you have with you at all times? Why?
My iPhone so I can always stay connected with family, friends, and work. A Moleskine notebook and a Montblanc Starwalker fineliner to pen down ideas and sketches.
What’s the best course you’ve ever played? And how close have you come to getting a hole in one?
Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. Closest to hole in one was at the Kau Sai Chau North Course, T3, three years ago right in! Since then I had a 2cm and 10 cm. Close enough but not good enough. Working on it!
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen paddle boarding?
A whale shark.
What’s your favorite vacation spot? And why?
French Polynesia. The reason summarized in one word: “Fenua.” A simple Maori word that expresses the place, the beauty, the scents, the people, the colors, and the life of the islands.
Last, but not least, is there anything you want to pitch, promote or discuss?
Dreaming of a better world reminds us of how beautiful our planet once was and still would be if we were to commit to a global effort in preserving it. People have the power to fight big corporations that are consistent threat to nature, our future, our kids’ future, ultimately life altogether. The solution is very simple: we need to stop buying their products and they’ll eventually come to their senses and start taking the necessary steps to change their thinking and commit to sustainable actions.
Wearing the N3.1.
For more information about PHILIPPE V, click here.
All images and caption quotes courtesy of Philippe Vergez, Thierry Halbroth and PHILIPPE V.
Photos by Nic Gaunt.