by flaunt

A conversation with the designer about inspiration, the creative process, and having fun with fashion.

The essences of a menagerie of mythical animals metamorphosed into sunglasses, the wearer magically transformed by cat ears, a monster’s brow, or the horn of a unicorn–this is what the Revé by René sunglasses line offers. Her whimsical designs have charmed the Asian and European markets already, landing placement at esteemed stockists like Collette in Paris, and now René Chu is bringing her Revé (a play on the French word for dream) line stateside.

It’s something of a homecoming. Chu is a graduate of Los Angeles’ Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and the playful design of her glasses seems right in line with the classically L.A. love for self-reinvention. After attending a fabulous launch party at the Pancake Collective headquarters which paired the glasses with gorgeous sculptures by Brian Rochefort, we spoke to René Chu about the creative process, finding inspiration, and her path as a designer.

From where did you draw inspiration as you designed the Revé line?

Inspiration can come from anywhere, but more than anything else, I find inspiration from my dreams and life events. Dreams have a way of of piecing together facets of your being that is thought-provoking, honest and unpretentious. So I believe that inspiration really comes down to living life, keeping an open mind, allowing myself to grow as an individual and being sensitive to the process – some of the best inspiration has come to me when I least expect it, this sense of surprise translates well in my design.

Can you talk a little bit about the path you took to becoming a designer?

A rollercoaster ride, blood sweat and tears in every sense of the expression. I came across a quote by Anthony Kiedis that so accurately depicts the process of starting and bringing something to fruition – “I’ve wanted to feel pleasure to the point of insanity. They call it getting high, because it’s wanting to know that higher level, that godlike level. You want to touch the heavens, you want to feel glory and euphoria, but the trick is it takes work. You can’t buy it, you can’t get it on a street corner, you can’t steal it or inject it or shove it up your ass, you have to earn it.”

Shortcuts just don’t work for tall orders.

Your glasses have a playful feel, with elements that reference fantasy and cartoons–cats, unicorns, and monsters, for instance. Why did you wish to include those elements in your designs?

The playfulness and interchangeable elements were really born out of the realization that there are no such thing as adults. Children are the most creative creatures in the world because they’re not encumbered by the need to live by a definition or a set of misguided expectations. I wanted to preserve the sense of wonder, curiosity, and exploration.

How did the Revé brand get its start?

Revé started as a search to find a pair of sunglasses that incorporated the playfulness and element of personalization that I wanted 3 years ago. And when I didn’t find it I decided to design my own. What ensued was a lot of sacrifice, hard work and persistence. I can still remember how overwhelmed I was when Colette became my first stockist. Since then we’ve enjoyed a growing presence around Asia, Europe, and now the United States; and we’re both grateful for the opportunity and excited at the prospect of sharing more of what Revé has to offer.

What specifically interested you about sunglasses as a designer?

I just love sunglasses. It’s the only fashion accessory that both reveals and conceals at the same time.

As a Hong Kong based designer, are there any differences or special considerations in designing for a Hong Kongese, American, and a European audience? Or is fashion becoming universal?

Cultures, way of life, can and do differ, but there are things that we all share as human beings. And that is the universality that I seek. Our need for creative space, the desire to relate and to derive meaning is common to all. To the best of my ability I try to have those universalities expressed.

What do you think the future holds for you as a designer? What would you like to achieve next?

I hope to be in the position to cultivate and catapult inspired young females in the pursuit of their own dreams. And as a designer, my goal is explore different facets/mediums of design. Complacency is the prelude to atrophy. Sink or swim.