Our first “meeting” with PORTRAIT Eyewear took place thanks to Angela Moschetta in her optical shop in Conversano. It was there that I fell in love with an unusual pair of glasses and wanted to find out who was behind the brand’s project.
The brand of Gabriele and Valentina Hernandez
So we discovered that this brand in the eyewear market, with an innovative and beautiful design, was created by Gabriel and Valentina Hernandez, brother and sister, born in Venezuela but citizens of the world and with work experiences in Great Britain, Spain and Italy.
Their operating district with regard to glasses is in the Italian North East, where several craftsmen are engaged in the eyewear sector. But the glasses they create, inspired by both contemporary art and a very personal reinterpretation of the retro-futurist movement of the 80s of the last century, are not only beautiful.
In fact, what we like most is their great attention to environmental sustainability and the enhancement of the historic tradition of Italian craftsmanship. And the Hernandez declare the sustainability of their business right from the choice of using as packaging for their frames a cardboard package obtained from forests with reduced environmental impact.
In short, their story fascinates us from the start so much that we decided, in agreement with Angela Moschetta, to wear one of their frames from the Glitch series during one of our last laps, the one in Sicily. That like all their creations is recognized for the gritty design that winks at contemporary art.
The models are named after atypical style icons and in their advertising campaigns they often pose emerging artists. We appreciate that the choice falls on testimonials not stereotyped and important for their unattainable beauty, but for their ability to create art and culture. And for a few days let’s imagine we are among them too!
Meanwhile, a chat with Valentina, CEO of PORTRAIT Eyewear and co-founder of the brand together with her brother Gabriel, makes us understand more about the philosophy behind their work. Starting right from the Charlotte glasses worn in Sicily where the undoubted beauty determined by the combination of shiny and opaque that gives the whole frame a pleasant asymmetry is surprising.
The series’ Glitch name derives from the glitch-art movement, linked to video and photography. At the basis of this type of art there is an intentional error that creates colors and noises, often hypnotic and intriguing. With the new collection PORTRAIT wanted to bring this concept into its eyeglasses and sunglasses which are dedicated to four artists who represent this artistic trend.
Charlotte refers to Elisabeth Charlotte Rist, better known as Pipilotti Rist, the Swiss video artist who in her works expresses experimentation, courage and breaking of conventional barriers. “Exactly what we set out to do – Valentina tells us – by declining these frames in a feminine and timeless form but with a contemporary style, strong but simple”.
June frame is Nam June Paik, the Korean-American artist known internationally as “The father of Video Art”, while Interface sunglasses are a tribute to Peter Campus, the American pioneer video artist of the 70s who among the first experienced the interaction with the viewer. And these glasses really seem to require from the wearer the participation of the beholder!
The fourth model is inspired by the 90s and is both for sight and for sun. It is dedicated to Leonard Charles Huia Lye, a New Zealand artist of the early twentieth century known for his experimental techniques, who is recalled by the pieces of metal assembled together that recall his works.
But the real goal of Valentina and Gabriel is to always put the wearer of the PORTRAIT Eyewear frames at the center. So if you start from identifying with a character, you then move on to assimilating the frame based on your personality, following the imperative of following your own uniqueness and revealing “the artist in you”, as Valentina points out.
Some forms of their proposals bring to mind the atmospheres of films such as Stanley Kubrick’s Odyssey in space and mythical figures such as David Bowie, for whom the Hernandez brothers reveal that they have always had a deep and personal immense admiration. And the great star of world music inspires Gabriel Hernandez, designer and co-founder, when he says: “We want to face the challenge of contradicting the common rules by creating our own”.