New for 2020, 100% Optical is pleased to be showcasing at the show examples of the finest eyewear made in the last 75 years.
From the personal collection of Mark Jensen, optician and designer, the display at the show has been curated to celebrate the fine artistry and detail within eyewear design.
Having studied architecture and art, Mark Jensen was introduced to the idea of utilitarian objects in photography as an art form. By cataloguing and photographing his vintage collection of 2,000 frames Mark formed his book ‘Forgotten Eyewear, Art of the Frame’.
The selection of frames to be showcased at 100% optical were selected to show some of the best innovations, pop culture trends and the timelessness of modern design ideas in eyewear. The 1950’s was the beginning of artistic freedom in eyewear. According to Moss Lipow in his book ‘Eyewear a Visual History’ Foster Grant and unknown designers in France brought what was missing to the optical industry: Style.
Each era represented in this museum from the 1960’s - 1990’s had significant style changes driven by fashion, art, music, hollywood and the mood of the era. The change of eyewear from functional to stylish opened up marketing opportunities and in the early 1950’s - 1960’s the first designers had their names put on frames. Designers like Elsa Schiaparelli, Oleg Cassini and Christian Dior are all early examples and hence designer eyewear was born.
Marketing designer eyewear in magazines was new and some of the very best examples available are seen in the show with exact frames that match the advertising. Celebrity endorsement in eyewear was just beginning and Foster grant had an ad that said “Who is behind those Foster Grants?” and would show celebrities wearing their frames.
The artistic nature of the frames seen in the museum from the 1960’s are spectacular as their design was influenced by Op-Art and Pop-Art where bold shapes and repeated patterns reigned. By the 1970’s Glam took hold and rare examples worn by Elton John are displayed. Forgotten eyewear by Menrad worn by Jimi Hendrix and a rare Will Tura made in England are both displayed.
The 1980’s brought with it punk music and hip hop partially the result of disillusionment and loss after the Vietnam war. This brought angular jutting styles and asymmetrical design into eyewear and there are lesser know examples featured by Alain Mikli, Claude Montana and Yves Saint Laurent. Cazal by Carl Zalloni appealed to the hip hop musicians and can be seen worn by Vanilla Ice. Stendhal made flat top frames that were also popular with the hip hop culture and was worn by Whitney Houston.
Even the original Volpini shutter shades make an appearance here as they were made popular again by Kayne West.
Finally the 1990’s brought with it elaborate bridge designs and details, unique materials like snake, ostrich, leather and lizard all seen here. Today’s celebrities like Lady Gaga have been photographed wearing vintage frames and designers took notice of the vintage frames and brands like Gucci, Loewe, Celine, Tom Ford, and Jermey Scott are bringing back the iconic shapes and styles of these former eras and the forgotten eyewear that once was is coming back again.
Below are some examples of some of the iconic eyewear you can expect to see at 100% Optical on 25-27 January, Excel, London...
In 1955 the Optical Art “Op Art” movement was prominently started by artist Victor Vasarely who was joined by other artists like Bridget Riley and Jurgen Peters. Op Art celebrates the nature of perception, optical effects and illusions. In 1965 an exhibition of Op Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City started a craze of Op Art designs in both fashion and eyewear. Seen here are examples of Op Art design in eyewear using checkerboard patterns made in France and by Foster Grant, a diamond movement shape by Rayban, black and white patterns of movement made in France and handcut May USA patterned frames.
Finding their way into the museum all the way from Dnipro, Ukraine these 1970’s Christian Dior frames were procured from vintage eyewear dealer Alex Byer. The 1970 Vogue magazine photo shot of this spectacular full 70mm round lens Dior frame is the most phenomenal photograph of a vintage frame ever taken. The aesthetic compliment of the round jewelry and the use of the form of the hands, arms and position of the head create a sculpturesque pedestal pose that perfectly elevates this stunning Dior sunglass to its rightful place, the face of a beautiful woman.
Renauld made these oversized sunglass frames in France using the lost art of hand etching flowers from the back of the frame. Other companies like Revue and Neostyle also did flower etchings in clear frames but it appears that only Renauld did this to black frames. Sometimes, as seen in the Renauld frames, a colored powder was set inside the etchings to give the look of real flowers. These Renauld styles were advertised in Playboy magazine as seen on the original tag.
Elaborate frame tops were definitely a focus of many designer’s in the 1980’s. Here we have designers Claude Montana, Gerard Levet and Louis Feraud using diamonte crystals and bold design choices for their frames. We also have two types of awning frames featured here, the first by J.C. de Castelbajac who was known for his outrageous clothing designs using cartoon characters from Disney who designed the scoop top sunglasses featured. Then we have an early awning frame top made in Germany around 1950 in the style of the famous designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
Sam Foster founded the Foster Grant sunglass line in 1929, selling his first pair at a Wollworths Dept. store. Foster Grant frames were worn by many notable Hollywood stars in the 1950’s and 60’s. The Harmony and Modern Art series, which featured artistic jutting edges, are seen and pictured here in a 1968 ad. Proof of its originality, the Loewe company recently copied the Modern Art series sunglass design seen here. A couple of these styles were worn in the movie production of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” released in 1975. Unfortunately the low quality and price point of the brand never allowed Foster Grant to emerge from mediocrity.
In 2019 this original 1970’s French made Brevet windshield wiper sunglass sold at auction for an astounding record price of 2,200 euro. In 1972 Elton John was photographed in this first and original windshield wiper sunglass as seen in the accompanying picture. Years later Elton was photographed in an updated version of the windshield wiper sunglass in all clear with mini lights at the top and horizontal wipers in the early 1980’s.