The Place: Los Angeles lunch spot, Tart Restaurant
Clad in a casual dark jeans/t-shirt look (and great sunglasses) Thomas looked like a celebrity incognito as we dashed into the restaurant of his choice for a quick drink and some nachos. It’s obvious that Thomas has great taste and an understated sense of style that always seems just right for the occasion. I found myself wanting to drill him on trends, movies, music, and of course, what I was wearing. Refraining from the latter (just to be on the safe side), we got into a great conversation about his work with FGW, history in eyewear, and on what he finds inspiring.
DP: Since everyone in LA seems to be a transplant, I always ask interviewees: What brought you out to Los Angeles?
TF: Well, coincidentally, this actually is my 10th year here. I celebrated over the weekend. It’s been a long and interesting 10 years. I moved out in creative pursuits and stumbled upon a part-time job, working for a small eyewear company doing PR and things took off from there. I ended up becoming a licensed Optician and became an assistant manager at a large chain dispensary. Within no time, I found myself as full-time manager with my own store. Next thing I knew, I was moving on to REM to venture into the wholesale side of the business and found myself drawn to the creative aspects of design and development. One thing lead to another and 10 years later here we are.
DP: How did you end up doing what you are doing?
TF: I started working as a design assistant for Blake about 4 years ago. It was for the launch of Carolina Herrera Eyewear and John Varvatos Eyewear for Base Curve (a luxury division of the REM Eyewear in Los Angeles). After an intense year of design assistant work and Blake’s mentoring, I took on some of my own projects, some private label, and started developing product from there. I then became the Manager of Product Development for REM, became the lead designer of Lucky Brand Spectacles and Sunglasses, continued working on private label brands, as well as with John (Varvatos, that is) and Mrs. Herrera.
DP: So you and Blake must work well creatively.
TF: He’s been doing this for years and I had the opportunity to learn a lot from him. The respect we have for each other’s opinions makes us a good team in terms of working on different projects together. As a result, when he decided to create FGW, he asked me to take on the role of designer and developer for Focus Group West.
As most of you know, FGW sponsors an online blog called The Aesthetic Omnivore. Part of the blog is dedicated to creating and showcasing original content in the form of photo essays and fashion editorial spreads. As part of the original content for our blog and to art direct our newFocus Group West brochure, we teamed up with our architect John Lum and a San Francisco-based photographer Philip Harvey for our first Focus Group West Fashion Shoot.
Check out some behind-the-scenes shots from shoot day:
Thomas (FGW) fitting (model) Khrystyna with eyewear.
Blake and Becky (FGW) collaborate with photographer Philip Harvey and team.
FGW's Heather talks to (model) Corey while he's prepped by Veronica Sjoen with hair and makeup.
Stylist Deborah Dapalito makes last minute changes on Corey.
Models Khrystyna and Gregory Peralta (from Look Model Agency) hard at work with photographer Philip Harvey and FGW team.
Blake, Heather, Becky, & Thomas - the FGW team hard at work.
Getting a first look at some shots of the day.
Gregory with Corey and photography assistant Mark taking in the SF views.
Blake with Becky reviewing the set up of a shot.
And then the long day was over. Deborah and Veronica finally getting a break.
A big "thank you" goes out to everyone who helped make this possible: