The Austrian frame brand created in 1964 by Anneliese and Arnold Schmied, has always kept up with the latest fashion trends over the years, while also focusing on comfort, minimalism, and self-expression since, as Silhouette sees it, glasses are the most eye-catching accessory a person can wear.
Glasses as an accessory
Silhouette drew on the 1960s ideals of emancipation and self-expression when launched its first pair of glasses. Glasses were no longer seen as a simple reading aid, but as a fashion accessory.
The first Silhouette glasses broke new ground with their narrow square shape and dark tint. The brand’s popularity grew rapidly and became known throughout Europe and Canada. Silhouette glasses were a way for people to express their own unique style.
An eye on the future
In the 1970s, Silhouette continued to make a name for itself and turn heads with its original styles that offered a more understated look with a stylish and original touch. In 1974, the Futura frame became an instant hit and was worn by a number of celebrities, including Elton John. They soon became a veritable collector’s item. Turning toward a more minimalist style in 1976, Silhouette launched the first rimless frame, which would become the brand’s signature.
Design and functionality through innovation
In 1982, Silhouette experimented with coatings to paint its frames in bright and vivid colours. Frames were coloured by hand to deliver a top-quality finish. The following year, Silhouette developed a brand new material for making its glasses—SPX plastic: S for Silhouette, P for polyamide, and X for the secret ingredient that made the material unique. The new material made the frames very light and improved wearer comfort.
In terms of design, Silhouette produced a range of eye-catching styles throughout the 80s: transparent, oversized, temples connected to the bottom of the rim instead of the top, geometric shapes, and more. The goal was always to bring out the individuality of those who wore the brand. At the time, Silhouette even developed a variety of earrings to match its glasses!
In 1991, Silhouette won the Austrian State Prize for Design for its collection of sunglasses by Italian designer Massimo Iosa Ghini. Silhouette also teamed up with Adidas to develop sports collections. One Silhouette frame—the smallest ever created—even graced the nose of the famous Barbie as part of an exhibit dedicated to the doll, illustrating the level of Silhouette’s frame making mastery.
The turn of the millennium saw Silhouette create the first hinge- and screw-free frame. Dubbed Titan Minimal Art, the frame was rimless, made out of titanium, and weighed in at just 1.8 grams. It was even chosen by NASA for its lightness and ability to perfectly fit astronauts’ faces and remain in place despite the lack of gravity. A number of stars also wore the frames, including Tom Cruise, Patrick Dempsey, and Brad Pitt.
In the 2000s, Silhouette strengthened its reputation as a rimless frame manufacturer with its LiteStyle collection launched in 2014, which drew on two of the brand’s defining characteristics: smart design and minimalism to deliver optimal comfort. Silhouette also fleshed out its luxury lineup with striking collections such as Crystal, featuring metal frames set with Swarovski stones, and Atelier, which offered exquisitely handmade frames available in 18K gold and studded with diamonds.
Today’s frames are still handmade in Austria according to traditional process and the company’s strict standards of craftsmanship. Ever true to itself, the brand continues to offer up minimalist styles with a dash of innovation and a real focus on comfort. Silhouette is a great example of the saying “Less is more.” Nowhere is this more evident than in the stir created by the frame manufacturer’s latest advertising campaign showing people “dressed” in nothing but a pair of glasses.
Thanks to its unwavering commitment to comfort, today Silhouette is worn by over 9 million people worldwide, including numerous celebrities, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra musicians, and the Queen of England, who has been loyal to the brand since 1982.