“As a young girl, I was always self-conscious of my eyes,” says Karen Wazen of what is undoubtedly one of her standout features. “Eyewear was always an easy and convenient way to cover them. I remember loving all kinds of glasses – reading glasses, sunglasses of all colors, and especially statement styles in interesting shapes.” Yesterday’s curiosity has transitioned into a fashion venture for the entrepreneurial influencer, whose wide smile and large, almond-shaped eyes remind of Angelina Jolie circa her Gia era. For her first foray into design, Dubai-based Wazen was in conversation with her sister, footwear designer Andrea Wazen, brainstorming for an entrepreneurial idea while shopping online for a new pair of shades. “My sister casually mentioned, ‘You love eyewear so much, why don’t you create your own sunglasses brand?’”
Originally printed in the December 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.
From that moment, Wazen was propelled into unknown terrain. “I knew absolutely nothing about creating a brand,” she shares. And yet, for the past few years, her own influencer brand has been on a steep ascent. Along with attending fashion weeks, she has collaborated with Breitling and Elie Saab, dressed in leading Middle Eastern designers at the Cannes film festival or Christian Dior at various international events. In an oversaturated influencer market, she belongs to the club beholding the favored few. The mother-of-three connects brands with her audience of more than 760 000 followers in ways that are both relatable and aspirational. And where she could easily continue to ride the wave buoyed by likes, she is now determined to step into the exclusive design ring enjoyed by a handful of ultra-influencers – Chiara Ferragni, Olivia Palermo, and Arielle Charnas, whose line for Nordstrom made headlines when it crashed the department store’s site, reportedly bringing in US $1 million in sales in less than 24 hours.
“I didn’t want to create a business for the sake of it. I wanted to create an extension of me,” says Wazen of her endeavor. “If you look at the way I dress – my style, my profile – eyewear is definitely something that stands out. I’ve always had an affinity to eyewear, an emotional connection.” Favoring an off-duty uniform of jeans, a white tee, and a classic blazer, and a fashion-week look of leather, oversized shoulders, and a pair of statement glasses, Karen Wazen’s eyewear is intended to be worn as an expressive form of fashion – one that is adaptable and playful. The first line of five styles comes in acetate and stainless steel and in an array of colors, from neon to tortoiseshell. The lenses offer UV protection and are produced in Hong Kong. Shapes range from retro classic cat-eye through to the futuristic. “Eyewear is such an expressive form of fashion, so adaptable and playful, this line is genuinely for everyone,” says Wazen. “I hope anyone who looks at the range will be able to find their own favorite style.” Karenwazen.com