When I discussed with Corie next interview to publish on the blog, the one you are about to read today, I was initially perplexed. Corie in fact proposed me to meet Enza Fuzio, the owner of Ottika Enza. I was told that even if she is neither a chef nor a restaurateur, she is still a very central figure in Luxembourg lifestyle (and nightlife). Enza was born here in Luxembourg, by Italian parents, Corie added, she might have many things to tell you, “I am sure you will enjoy meeting her!”
I trusted her and went straight to Rue Aldringen. Finding my way around Royal-Hamilius construction site, that is evolving visibly every single day and totally changing the skyline of the city. Arrived at Ottika Enza, the first question that comes to my mind is “how did I manage never noticing this shop?” – indeed I pass here in front a thousand times per day.
Ottika Enza is a small but cozy space where the original mood of the glasses blends with the passion that its owner, Enza Fuzio, has for pop art – and you definitely cannot miss it. It is also the only eyewear store in Luxembourg to sell the Italian Independent brand. And Enza, around it, has created a community or, as she loves to say, a fan club, built up around the passion for glasses that are a bit special. Just like her.
Angela: – Enza, good morning and many thanks for having accepted our invitation. Do you prefer to speak in Italian or in French?
From this question we move straight forward talking about orecchiette for a moment, as Enza, like me, is from Apulia.
Angela: How was your interest in glasses born?
Enza: It was my vocation since I was a child. When I was 10, I had to put the first glasses. I went to buy them from Ackermann, in Place de Paris, that does not exist anymore. I was so fascinated by those white coats and their know-how that at the age of 12 I told my parents “I want to be an optician when I grow up.” At the age of 19, after completing my studies and internship, I came to Optique Berg, where I worked for 28 years as if it was my own shop. Until 2 years ago, when it closed.
A: A year ago you opened this store, Ottika Enza, which is your own, this time for real. And which has a very strong personality. It is colorful, effervescent, and modern. What is your philosophy behind?
E: My shop must be like I am, I told myself before having clear ideas about how I would personalize it. I looked inside and I realized that I wanted to propose something different that would reflect me, which would bring out my passion for creativity and art. A passion dormant during the years when I was married. My then-husband did not believe in art and this curbed me in expressing myself to the maximum. Thank God he left…
A: Do you want to keep this part or do you prefer I cut it out?
E: Oh, you must include it for sure. Everyone tells me “you’ve become another person” (after he left). This is totally incorrect: it just came out who I really was. All the path through the difficulties I’ve had to face in recent years has led to what I am today. A rebirth.
A: Tell me more about all these street art works displayed here in at the shop, in “your home”. Especially that giant mural!
E: I love photography. When the demolition of the old Hamilius area begun, I started taking pictures, I documented all the demolition, I had a huge archive at home and many people asked for it. So I was printing these pictures and putting them on display on the window of the other shop. The owner of the LTL, the company that made the demolition, passed casually in front and complimented me.
When they finally dug and they went more than 33 meters below ground, I was able to go down 2 times with them. They gave me a helmet and a vest and I was taking pictures. When down there, I saw all the graffiti that were there and they were going to be destroyed. At that point, I had a heartache. Center Aldringen has always been a meeting place for young people for ages; after school, we were meeting with friends to spend there our spare time. So it has been a crossroads for many generations who have left them the signs of their passage. So I asked if I could keep a small fragment of the wall to preserve a piece of art and to remember the past years…
A: Very brave! But I suppose it was impracticable, wasn’t it?
E: This is not over yet, listen! One day a guy who was working on the excavations sent me a picture of a fragment 2 meters long asking me if I wanted it. I wondered how he could take off the graffiti. End of the story, a few days later I got in the shop the whole marble plate with the amazing graffiti on it and that’s the original that you see on that wall. It is the only piece that has been saved from that underground gallery. It is also signed because I contacted the artist Alëxone Dizac, who now lives in Paris, and when he came to Luxembourg at the opening of an art gallery he passed by to sign it.
A: This is a beautiful story! Thanks to your sensitivity you have given new life to this work of art that would have been destroyed! What about all the other works you have here?
E: Here in the shop there are works by Daniel Mac Lloyde who last year received the first prize Young Street Artist in Rotterdam. A work by Thomas Iser, realized a few days ago: it is a window with clouds, behind the window everyone sees his future, the one that he / she dreams, his / her dreams. Madeleine Putz realized my portrait. And then there is also a work by Jacques Schneider.
A: And from street art to design, tell me about Lapo Elkann, who brought you so much luck.
E: I met Lapo Elkann at a fair in Milan and I was the first to export his brand (Italian Independent) outside Italy. Now they tell me that I was their brand ambassador. I believed in this design, I wanted it and I promoted and still promote it. Now there is a wonderful relationship with all of them.
A: I know that there is such an interest in your choices that you even manage a community on social media.
E: Yes, when people are interested in a brand then they follow you, and for Lapo brand I created a small fan club and I often organize events in store. I love to invite my clients in a festive situation, allow them to see glasses without the obligation to buy them, drink some bubbles together. On those occasions, I choose a complete collection, I display it, then there is a DJ, prosecco, photographer … people come to drink a glass, look at the collection dancing at the rhythm of music.
A: I know that in December you celebrated the first year of this eyewear boutique. Too bad not to have attended, but thanks for the invitation. How did it go?
E: It was Saturday and it was beautiful. I had the opportunity to show the glasses of Italian Independent collection made especially for me: a Unique Edition, 50 glasses with the skyline of the city of Luxembourg, as per their tradition when they open a single-brand store in other major cities of the world. On the frame there is written Unique Edition Ottika Enza Luxembourg. A hit. I have 25 pieces left.
A: These glasses are beautiful. They really suits me as well J Let’s go out for a moment here. Royal Hamilius Project. How do you see it? What do you expect? Will Les Galeries Lafayette be a positive or negative news for the commercial activities around here?
E: Absolutely positive! The whole area will become a point of attraction, will be made totally pedestrian, other shops will move or come here; I do think it will be the most beautiful area in the city. They will open at the end of the year, November, and I cannot wait.
A: Not afraid of competition?
E: No, because my shop is not like the others. I have my clients who have been following me for years. Moreover, the spaces inside the Galeries Lafayette will not be easily accessible from an economic point of view and therefore I do not think that my small and independent competitors can afford those costs. And then I believe that healthy competition is only good.
A: I agree with you. (We move back inside). From what I can see on social networks you are very involved in the nightlife of this city, you were born here and you have certainly seen its evolution. They tell me that Luxembourg was quite off before. Is that true? What has changed?
E: When we were young, we said that Luxembourg was dead. The places for “going out” were very few. Then, over time, there was a mega revolution. When I was a teenager, there were only 3 or 4 bars, Clausen was not there like we see it now. We had to travel out of Luxembourg most of the time for having fun. All the bars you see now have perhaps opened in the last 10 years.
A: What do you expect then between 2 or 5 years? Will it become a more attractive city?
E: Yes, thanks to the arrival of the University center. This has allowed the birth of many activities related to leisure, nightlife and catering. First the city center was dead because the youth was missing. Now it’s different. Too bad that the university center has developed in Belval and for me it was a huge mistake, but still an improvement that will bring so much more movement. Luxembourg is reborn!
A: And now a ritual question for us: what are your favorite places in the city? And in what genres, styles and tastes do you recognize yourself?
E: If I go out to the restaurants, I eat essentially Italian or French, I do not like exotic tastes.
A: So you’re not a sushi lover like me?
E: No no no!… (laughing) I love going to the Essenza restaurant, the owner is very special, I like him as a character, I like his restaurant, I like his cooking. He’s a bit crazy, like I am!
A: Coffee, ops, pardon, espresso, where you drink your favorite one?
E: At Caffè Torino. No doubt. We support Juventus in my family and in Turin we visited the original Caffè Torino, we became friends with everyone in Turin. When they opened here for me it became a little bit like home. Every morning I take the cappuccino there, the only one for me.
A: Enza thank you for this nice chat. Before going to drink our cappuccino at Caffè Torino which is nearby, tell me, when will your next event be?
E: Follow my Facebook page Ottika Enza and you will discover it.
Here with this wonderful woman, sparkling, avant-garde, I go to warm up with a good cappuccino. I remained to chat with her twice as much time as was used for the interview. About restaurants, family, the courage of women, the power of awakening!
I know that this new friendship will bring me much more than this interview!