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From suburbia to Paris: meet Sener Besim, the eyewear designer drawing from his roots

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From suburbia to Paris: meet Sener Besim, the eyewear designer drawing from his roots

Every year as part of the Australian Fashion Chamber’s Designers Abroad Program, a select number of Australian designers travel to Paris for an exclusive showroom attended by some of the best in the industry.

For the season past, Búl, Heart of Bone, Romance Was Born, Roopa, Sener Besim, and Strateas Carlucci made the trip. But it was Sener Besim who really caught our eye.

Collections of eyewear so chic it hurts and with styles, shapes and colours put together in Besim’s signature way, the Australian designer has been noticed for all the right reasons. During Paris Fashion Week, we spoke with the man behind the lenses (literally) about all things eyewear, and taking inspiration from his roots.

Why did you get into fashion to begin with?

“At the age of 10 or 11, was when I first turned the pages of a fashion magazine. That’s the moment I immediately recognised the power of fashion, and my attraction to it as a field of immense creativity. I was a young boy with mixed European descent living in Australian suburbia and suddenly felt transcended to another world.

At the age of 14, I acted on this obsession and became a work experience staffer at a reputable tailor specialising in suiting. Immediately I was surrounded by brands such as Valentino, Reporter and Cerrutti. I loved it.

Following the completion of a Fashion Merchandising Diploma I elected to undertake a Degree in Commerce. This decision allowed me to work abroad and focus my travels throughout Europe where a closer connection could be established within the fashion industry. I eventually found myself immersed in my homeland of Ohrid, now in the Republic of Macedonia within the former Yugoslavia though once part of the Ottoman Empire, best described by its multiple layers of rich cultural intersections.

Never clear of my own identity whilst growing up in middle Australian suburbia, this period of travel brought with it massive insight. This later informed key decisions whilst developing my own creative process and investigative works.”

What do you love about designing eyewear?

“I didn’t set out to establish an eyewear line, exactly. For some time, I have been practicing various creative investigations, never with a sole focus in terms of their outcomes. I didn’t want to, nor today to I undertake a process whereby I immediately identify the form. But I had this idea of ‘framing space’ and of harnessing the power of Ottoman aesthetics in general and Ottoman architecture in particular – and it’s these twin goals which lead me to eyewear.”

How has your upbringing influenced your design process?

“Visiting the local Mosque with my Father as a child very much has influenced my aesthetic and design process. The architectural expression that arise from earlier Ottoman architecture that are found in mosques has been a critical and specific source. Technical, geometric equations realised via highly skilled tradespeople are, for me, truly absorbing. It is not only the actual matter within such architectural fabric but the metaphysical sensory awakenings they give rise to. I am absorbed both by what I see in the tangible result and what I feel on a spiritual level.”

What's the favorite pair of sunglasses you've created?

“S1 Shield as it was the first style. For me it has the correct amount of ethnicity and I feel as a style is looks forward not back which for me is what inspires me most about the creative process.”

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