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Ralph Vaessen, Eyewear to Die for

Dutch Ralph Vaessen was born in Heerlen, The Netherlands on August 28, 1966. He studied Public Administration and worked for the Dutch government for over 15 years and now he designs eyewear to die for – the art of handcrafted natural horn eyewear.

Wednesday, 21.04.2010
13:15 (Cet)

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Ralph Vaessen (born in Heerlen, The Netherlands on August 28, 1966) is a Dutch designer. He studied Public Administration and worked for the Dutch government for over 15 years. Ralph Vaessen started to design eyewear early 2006. He was looking for new frames for eyeglasses for himself, but he couldn’t find what he was looking for. An optician told him that he knew a small atelier that could produce a single set of frames if Ralph Vaessen could make a drawing of the shape he wanted. Ralph Vaessen, who was already looking for a career change, saw an opportunity. “Why produce only one private set of frames? Why not produce a complete collection?” He decided to quit his job and to start a career as a designer of premium, exclusive and luxurious handcrafted natural horn eyewear.

That Ralph Vaessen started a creative career as a designer at a later age did not come as a complete surprise. Fashion, design, art, architecture and music had been his passion since he was a child. At the age of eight, he was already wearing designer clothes by Pierre Cardin. He started to create his own style of clothing in 1979 at the age of thirteen, influenced by the Ska Punk music scene and later by the “New Romantics” fashion/music sub movement of the New Wave movement of the early 80s.

His designs are still influenced by the British Indie music scene (and by old movies). In the autumn of 2006, his first collection (2007) premiered in Paris and later also showed in New York, Milan, and Tokyo. In the autumn of 2007, the 2008 collection had its premiere in Paris again and also showed in New York, Milan, and Tokyo. In 2008, Ralph Vaessen decided to concentrate on sales and distribution in addition to designing and marketing – resulting in strong growth. He also started to combine natural horn wi th natural wood for his 2009 collection, which was shown in both Paris and Milan.

In 2009, Ralph Vaessen decided to expand sales into fashion as well. The new 2010 collection had its premiere at a fashion show in Florence and at the fashion week in Milan. Ralph Vaessen also started to combine horn with snake leather for his 2010 collection. On request by Spyker, a Dutch sport cars manufacturer, he designed a Spyker style. This style was nominated for the “Oscars” for eyewear, the Silmo d’Or category sunglasses year 2010 by independent & innovative designers.

Ralph Vaessen’s (sun)glasses will appear in the international movie Smoke&Ochre with Carice van Houten, Rutger Hauer and Liam Cunningham. The movie is being shot in South Africa during the first half of 2010. The eyewear is sold in a few selected stores worldwide including Colette, Le Bon Marché (soon) and L’Eclaireur (soon) in Paris, Papete in Riccione/ Rimini, United Arrows in Tokyo, Visual Culture in Hong Kong and The Counter in Dubai. Also eyewear brands like Cutler & Gross in London, Mykita in Berlin and Anne et Valentin in Toulouse selling Ralph Vaessen eyewear in their (flagship) stores as well.

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