By Roisin Breen

Ahlem Manaï-Platt is the California-based, Parisian eyewear designer who has seen her creations worn by some of the biggest female icons and celebrities in the world, Beyoncé, Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, Kate Moss – the list is endless. But the humble designer doesn’t count her blessings by her celebrity or influencer following, instead crediting her worldwide team for her success and international reach. From the factory workers where her products are produced in the South of France and Japan, to her design headquarters in Los Angeles, her design philosophy is much like her workplace philosophy, coming from a place of “ intuition, kindness, a good feeling and love for someone’s work, style and personality”. Initially starting out her career in journalism, she took up positions at Acne and Prada before launching her eponymous label in 2014. Here she took time to sit down with Crash and answer a few questions ahead of her store opening later this Saturday 11 March in Paris.

Find them at 9 rue du Dragon, Paris VIème

Stay tuned on crash.fr and on Ahlem’s insta for updates!


Can you tell us a bit about your latest collection? 

I was inspired to create a collection that allows you to be free! To invent and reinvent yourself, if that’s what you want, following a period of confinement (as we had with Covid) or intense social and political unrest. The message is: The future is full of possibilities. The shapes themselves draw on two separate but kindred subcultures that to me perfectly relay that message—the post-war jazz artists who pushed boundaries of sound and spirit, and Les Sapeurs, whose opulent styles suggest that you can be proud of your physical presentation, as it is in fact an act of self-respect. 

Where are you based as a brand and why? 

We are a global brand. I feel so lucky to have a team I can trust all over the world that makes it possible. Our headquarters are in Los Angeles, Paris and Amsterdam, and we also have stores in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, with our latest one opening in Paris the first week of March! We have factories in the South of France and in Japan. What matters to me is to find the right people and let them work their magic. I trust and support my employees and I am proud of the work we all do for the brand. 

Where did you study? 

I initially wanted to be a journalist and earned a Bachelor’s degree in History from La Sorbonne. 

What inspires you to get creative? 

I get inspired by everyday moments and objects. It can be anything, really—the raindrop on the window of a train moving through the Alps, or a perfect, subtle Japanese tea pot. Or a memory of childhood in Paris. I’m also moved by big artistic movements such as Bauhaus, and the Brutalist architecture of Tadao Ando. 

Can you talk to us about some of the collaborations you have done, notably with Leon Bridges and Beck? Where did you meet them and how did you first get into the idea of working together? 

I became friends with Leon Bridges in 2017 at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund ceremony. He is true to himself as a musician and songwriter, and is steadfast in his commitment to his timeless personal style. We just loved each other’s aesthetic, and decided to pool our talents on a limited-run collaboration that would benefit Westminster Elementary. BECK was wearing our frame for a long time, on tour and for leisure. The limited-edition collaboration is the result of our mutual respect and relationship, a fusion of his impeccable sensibility and AHLEM’s craft. 

You have also collaborated with Palais Galliera and Max Farago, how do you approach collaborating with other designers and artists? 

AHLEM’s philosophy is centered around the relationship between simplicity, beauty and functionality. One can say this is true of all our collaborations. It takes intuition, kindness, a good feeling and love for someone’s work, style and personality, and then we just reach out and do it. Any exciting upcoming projects you can talk to us about? 

Our new store will be opening in Paris soon. I can’t wait!

Who do you look up to the most in the world? 

My son

Were you always an artistic child and did you always think you would become a designer? 

I always carried a notebook and drew everything that inspired me, at any moment of the day. While I was studying to become a journalist, I was attending night classes at an arts school for photography and drawing. I didn’t plan to become a designer, but one day in 2013 I was thinking about what I wanted to do with my life and sketched a pair of sunglasses. My friend saw my drawing and said, “You need to do this.” That’s what started it all. 

What’s your favorite part of the process/ industry ? 

The people I’m meeting, from our ateliers to the retailers. Also I see AHLEM as an advocate of the incredible talented craftsmanship we have in France so bringing that to the world is definitely my biggest joy. 

And least?

I don’t focus on it. 

What’s your favorite film? 

Cinema Paradiso 


It was probably that bad I don’t even remember the name! 

What’s your favorite color?

British racing green and navy blue. Can I say both? 17) 


There are no bad colors. It’s just about the composition of the light that goes through it.  

What’s your favorite city? 

Right now I do love Paris.


Just as the colors. There are no bad cities. It is just about the composition of the light that goes through it. 

What’s your favorite song? 

Knock, knock knocking on heaven’s door hey hey hey yeah yeah!!!


I have a very selective memory. I keep the good. 

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