Historical echoes of Madame de Sevigné, Victor Hugo and Cardinal Richelieu surrounded us, as Eva Gaume and I sat just across from the elegant 17th century royal garden – Place des Vosges. We were there, sipping tea, to discuss our abiding, fond memories of Emmanuelle Khanh – the charismatic founder and designer of fashion and eyewear that bears her name. Sadly, Mme Khanh passed away in 2017, but her legacy carries on with the innovative concepts of a young, elegant, chic and dynamic French woman; who captures the vitality, depth and originality of the founder.
Eva and I reflected on our meetings with the French designer, albeit years apart, and Mme Khanh left a lasting impression on us both. “I met Emmanuelle Khanh in 2016,” Gaumé recalled, “it was a great moment, and allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the brand, not especially on eyewear, but more on the Emmanuelle Khanh Art de Vivre, and the relationship the brand had built between women and their fashion for the last 50 years. We shared a strong desire to design for real women we love, our muses. Today, as the Artistic Director of the brand, my work is always inspired by the brand legacy, Madame Khanh’s avant-garde vision, but also my own journey and the aspirations of today’s women. I feel very emotionally connected with the brand.”
Eva graduated from the prestigious school of art and design in Geneva, HEAD, specialising in jewellery and accessories. She started to design for EK as a freelancer while still a student. Winning two design prizes, she also collaborated with Jeremy Tarian, the French eyewear designer who has successfully achieved several Silmo d’Or awards. After a short stint with Piaget in Switzerland, Eva returned to Paris, and was appointed as Creative Director Eyewear and Image for EK.
Eva describes why she believes opticians and consumers continue to find EK frames desirable. “Whether it is opticals or sunglasses, the colours and shapes of EK shades are very recognizable, bold and authentic. Today, the brand is known for its beautiful creative coloured tortoise patterns that have become a new signature. Oversized or ultra-slim, our frames have remained the gold standard, an icon for the emancipated, joyful working women who embody the Emmanuelle Khanh spirit. Moreover, beyond the style and the quality of the product stand amazing people: our team, manufacturers and ambassadors who are passionate. This is the real beating heart of the brand.”
The latest EK eyewear designs validate vintage credentials that connect essential high-tech, contemporary elements that ensure comfort and durability. Emmanuelle Khanh also loved accessories. In addition to the striking frame silhouettes in bright, eye-catching colours, and fashion’s favourite shade – black – eyewear accessories reflect the EK persuasion with chains and glass cases that are sleek, functional and superbly stylish. Eva Gaumé’s designs include roomy, streamlined cases in eco-appropriate vegan leather, ideal to further protect frames.
When Emmanuelle Khanh launched her frames, she mesmerized the eyewear world with her forward thinking and original designs. Nowadays, her contemporary outlook for stylish eyewear is encapsulated in the elegant, luxurious styles designed by Eva Gaumé, always keeping the dynamic spirit of EK in mind. Today’s customer is increasingly more aware of how products are made, where they come from, and how materials are sourced. Vintage brands provide an enduring podium to appreciate the heritage, authenticity and timeless style of exceptional designers.