Maison Bonnet: Made-to-Measure Eyeglasses

Maison Bonnet: Made-to-Measure Eyeglasses

Jacques Chirac and François Mitterand wore them, so did Jackie Onassis, Audrey Hepburn and Yves Saint-Laurent. If not exactly their fortunes, the faces they presented to the world mattered. So does yours. At least according to Maison Bonnet, eyewear makers par excellence.

Maison Bonnet was founded during the 1930s in Morez, a small ironworking town in France’s Haut Jura that through the 19th century slowly evolved into Europe’s eyewearmaking centre, after Pierre Hyacinthe Caseaux fashioned the first iron-wire eyeglass frames there in 1796.

Today, Maison Bonnet is one of the last remaining made-to-measure eyeglass makers in France and, according to the company, the only one in the world with the right to use real tortoiseshell – an art that the house has been perfecting for four generations. And that art has seen Christian Bonnet, the firm’s patriarch, awarded the titles of Maître d’Art and Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, while his company has been bestowed the label Enterprise du Patrimoine Vivant [Living Heritage Company] .

It took Maison Bonnet nearly 80 years to establish a small modern boutique – which opened in 2009, under the hushed arcades of the Palais Royal. Before that, it was only by word of mouth – more accurately, by the beauty and elegance of the frames themselves, which have graced and enhanced Paris’s most powerful, stylish and influential faces – that potential clients came to the house.

Enhance is the key word for Maison Bonnet. Clients spend a minimum of two-and-a-half hours over two or three appointments (for foreign clients this can be done in a day) in the boutique’s private apartments with either Franck or Steven Bonnet, Christian’s sons. In the course of these convivial appointments over coffee, the client’s facial anatomy is minutely scrutinized and measured. But it’s not only the angle of the nose, the distance between the temples and pupils or the circumference of the skull that interests Maison Bonnet, these craftspeople also want to know each customer’s likes and dislikes, how they see themselves and details of the image they want to present to the world. For example, if there’s a part of the face which the client particularly wants to accentuate or, conversely, to play down, the craftspeople at Maison Bonnet are happy to oblige.

Once the shape, colour and materials are chosen and the essential measurements taken, the glasses are hand fabricated in a painstaking ten-step process which requires between six and 30 hours of labour. In 5 to 12 weeks, a premium pair of personalised frames – in acetate, horn or tortoiseshell – are delivered to your door. If a prestige logo on your eyewear is your thing, then Maison Bonnet may  not be for you. But if you’re looking for the perfectly streamlined equivalent of a couture pair of glasses or sunglasses, then this is the place. Prices start at around €950 and can rise to sky’s the limit.

Maison Bonnet, Passage des Deux Pavillons, 5 rue des Petits Champs, Paris 1st. Tel: +33 1 42 96 46 35

From France Today magazine

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