Prism’s founder tells Graeme Moran how a glasses and swimwear label that was born out of frustration now counts Elton John as a fan
You were originally a fashion journalist – why did you decide to make the move into designing?
I was always looking at product and thinking ‘Yes that’s nice, but if it was only just a bit like this…’. It was out of frustration that I became a designer.
How would you sum up Prism as a brand?
It is as equally focused on aesthetics – modern, clean, unfussy, fashion-forward – as it is on detail and function.
Prism started out making optical glasses and then moved on to sunglasses and swimwear. Why did you make this transition?
We had customers going into Dover Street Market in London and Colette in Paris asking for sunglasses versions of the opticals we were selling [in those stores], so it was a natural movement from optical to sunglasses. The aim of the brand was to produce a product that wasn’t already available on the market and that I felt was needed, hence why we began with the opticals. Then I decided that if I was going to launch a range of sunglasses, I would launch swimwear at the same time. It’s a product I’ve always been obsessed with.
Prism opticals and sunglasses have a unisex feel. Was this something you deliberately set out to achieve?
Yes. I think obviously sometimes products are more feminine or more masculine, but I think at times it’s better not to classify products. I’ve always found myself wanting products that were designed for men, but in my size.
Recently you made some leather espadrilles in collaboration with New York retailer Opening Ceremony. How did this come about?
They always do a great party in their stores for [annual shopping event] Fashion’s Night Out, and every year they ask designers such as Rodarte and Proenza Schouler to make special products for the event. They asked us to come up with a new product for this year’s Fashion’s Night Out. We settled on leather espadrilles because we felt they fitted with the Prism aesthetic and would go with the whole package of swimwear and sunglasses.
You also made some glasses for Elton John’s recent Las Vegas shows. How did this come about?
He bought some of our glasses from Dover Street Market a while back, then got in touch to buy some directly from us. And then they called and asked me to make him glasses for his Vegas show. We made him some glasses to go with the Richard James suits that had been customised with Swarovski crystals.
Besides Elton John, Prism has many fans. Even David Beckham has been spotted in a pair of glasses. Who else wears them?
Everyone from [jewellery designer] Victoire de Castellane to [actress] Sienna Miller and [French It girl] Julia Roitfeld. But anyone with good taste and good style – famous or not – are equally high-profile brand ambassadors.
- Anna Laub is creative director of glasses and swimwear label Prism
Who are your favourite designers?
Azzedine Alaia, Nicolas Ghesquière for Balenciaga and Phoebe Philo.
What brands or designers do you like to wear?
Azzedine Alaia and Cos.
Where are your favourite places to shop?
I shop in places like Rio and Tel Aviv. I prefer off-the-beaten-track cities.
What is your favourite Prism piece?
At the moment, I’ve been wearing the Prism for Opening Ceremony leather espadrilles pretty much every day.