Ahlem Manai-Platt is a eyewear obsessive. The Paris-born, LA-based designer has accumulated glasses her whole life, with a collection that now nears 50 pairs. In 2014, she parlayed this longtime love into her own brand. Her sunglasses and optical frames offer playful riffs on classic shapes, like the swooping Ménilmontant cat eye or the aviator-esque Bastille. Not only are the glasses’ designs inspired by the architecture of Paris—from the columns surrounding the Palais Royal to the alleyways near Rue Montorgueil—each frame is also named after a different neighborhood in the city.
A self-described stickler for detail, Manai-Platt sources all of the material herself. “You know how thousands of tiny pixels make up a big picture on the computer? That’s how I see my glasses. Every small detail, you need to make it happen,” she says. Ahlem Eyewear lenses are made in Italy, and the frames are crafted in Paris from vintage deadstock acetate. “Finding the perfect vintage frame is like finding a diamond in the rough.” —Liza Darwin