For Napoleon Bonaparte to declare “imagination rules the world” might seem somewhat at odds with the historical record (he isn’t someone you picture daydreaming). Also unexpected is the fact that Catherine Federici, designer and founder of innovative eyewear label Isson, has chosen this motto to represent her brand.

Federici says that the notion of conquering one’s imagination is intrinsic to designing her quirky-cool glasses. “When I loosely sketch ideas, they are raw, kooky, playful and in most cases, not manufacturable,” she muses. “It’s from this place that I start designing. I could be more constrained but where’s the fun in that?”

Unlike Bonaparte, her route to success was far less staged. “Isson was the result of not really having a defined life plan,” she admits. Federici honed her laser-sharp eye for design by studying industrial design at UTS in Sydney and working at optical boutiques from the tender age of 14, as well as perfecting her drawing skills by inking at a tattoo parlour on the side. By 2003, she had amassed a pile of sketchbooks full of directional eyewear designs, so together with husband Marco, they began Isson and last year celebrated 10 years of creating their optical and sun collections.

So, what of the frames? “Unpredictable yet wearable,” Federici asserts when describing the glasses. Think fashionable, reaction-worthy frames, classic enough to not go out of style and in colours with names that either make you want to eat them (such as ‘muddled honey’) or not (‘blood on a slide’). But Isson isn’t just style over substance; Federici’s industrial design background has enabled her to create uniquely functional designs. The SS 13/14 optical collection features innovative hinge plate technology she developed herself.

With such a diverse range of clients including Architecture in Helsinki and John Galliano, who was recently spotted wearing his while hanging with Grace Coddington (herself a lover of a good frame), it’s good to find an eyewear label that leaves everything to the imagination.

To find a full length of stockists of Isson in both Sydney and Melbourne, head to, or buy directly from the site.