At the heart of Venice’s cultural crossroads, the sunny and charming streets of Abbot Kinney have a new resident-boutique sunglass and optical store Ahlem. “It’s a dream location, there is an amazing sense of community here. Artists, film makers, designers—it’s so vibrant feeling here,” says designer and owner Ahlem Manai-Platt, who worked at Acne and Miu Miu in Paris before relocating to California three years ago to launch her label. “It’s not like the rest of L.A. Everything is walking distance—grabbing a cappuccino at the Blue Bottle before work, lunch at GTA, and to be two minutes from the beach that’s everything” (and also necessitates great shades of which Ahlem has the plenty).
The interior of the 500 square foot space was collaboration with PSS Design Cult, who custom built the fixtures, and mixed with mid-century French pieces. “The building’s architecture was already very brutalist, so we accentuated that vibe with a gallery feeling, épuré. The walls are the arts holder: the perforated metal wall with Klein blue plexi under it which references the glasses. The bookshelf filled with curated architecture and photography books,” says Platt. The shop reflects (no pun intended…) both her European and American heritage: “only one pair of glasses per style are displayed (we open the drawers for our clients to show them the other options), in that sense it’s very French not to exhibit oneself!” The arrays of cacti “are representing California.” Also befitting the Cali-zen of the locale, a neon Mon symbol designed by Hugo Garcia is a welcoming touch in the window: “it identifies family in Japanese culture.”
Ahlem is planting her flag firmly in the stylish future. “None of my glasses are polarized,” she says. “They have an anti-reflective coating on the inside, so you can look at your iPhone—or the open road—without any problems.” Looks like this eyewear label—whose vintage acetate “Concorde” frames have caught the attention of Kendall Jenner, Beyoncé, Kate Moss, Jessica Alba and the ice-cool actor Christoph Waltz—has already found its place in the sun.