A–Z

— OF EYEWEAR —

BY STEENIE

JOHNNY DEPP

Sometimes a star’s love for a pair of spectacles has a huge effect on fortunes of a designer. Moscot started in New York in 1915 and slowly built a reputation as a reliable neighbourhood optician. In 2004, they provided a pair of their Lemtosh frames for Johnny Depp to wear in the film Secret Window. He was so smitten that the Lemtosh has since become something of a Depp signature. Apart from Randolf Engineering, blue-tint sunglasses, he doesn’t wear much else. Moscots are now distributed globally and internationally recognised, a great example of how one famous wearer’s enthusiasm can project a brand across the world. A further example of this comes from another D, Princess Diana, whose appearance in white-framed Oliver Goldsmith frames led to a surge in their popularity.

Johnny Depp Secret Window

Johnny Depp in the film Secret Window

CHRISTIAN DIOR
Christian Dior Sunglasses Advert

1985 Christian Dior Sunglasses Advert

Haute couture legends Christian Dior were producing bespoke sunglasses in the 1960s but in 1985 they changed the world of eyewear forever when they introduced the concept of designer sunglasses with a massive collection. What was also new, and less obvious, was that Dior did not design the sunglasses in-house. They were made by Carrera Optyl (purchased in 1996 by high-end frame manufacturer Safilo of Italy) and sold under licence. Due to the increased size of the lenses, when we added a prescription they tended to end up quite thick. I was often called upon to make them look thinner by adding embellishments that drew the eye away from the chunkiness of the glass.

The 1985 Dior collection marked the start of branded licencing in eyewear, and built a template for how most fashion brands are organised today. Prada have their eyewear license with Luxottica and Inspecs make sunglasses for Nicole Fahri, McLaren and Ford. Safilo and Dior have been working together ever since and in 2014 launched the highly successful ‘So Real’ range. Unlike the 1985 collection, these pieces were characterised by eye-catchingly thin lenses. Safilo also design eyewear for just-about-everyone including BOSS, Givenchy and Jimmy Choo. I now have a substantial collection of the 1985 Dior pieces.

DITA

Such is their attention to detail and fantastic overall quality, Dita is a high-end brand I consider ‘the Bentley of eyewear’. Founded in 1995 by Californians John Juniper and Jeff Solorio, and named after the model and Burlesque queen Dita Von Teese, Dita originally aimed to produce really cool sunglasses for surfers. Initially influenced by Cazal, the range has since broadened to include both classic, wearable sunglasses and extravagant, gold-laden frames, the sort of bling associated with hip hop artists and the super rich. Dita have a long-term partnership with Nakanishi of Japan that helped them achieve and maintain high standards of craftsmanship and production. A Dita frame can involve up to 320 stages and eight months to finish. I have styled Ditas for a number of films, including The Two Faces of January with Vigo Mortensen, and Nine with Daniel Day-Lewis. Dita also produce spectacles for the designer Thom Browne. At the peak of contemporary luxury eyewear, Dita keeps the sun from the eyes of Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Lewis Hamilton, Conor McGregor and Kim Kardashian.

Images: Dita

C.W. DIXEY AND SON

The world’s oldest independent eyewear company, C.W. Dixey has been operating since 1777 and has an august reputation and magnificent archive. Past clients include seven kings and queens of England, a Chinese emperor and such personalities as Napoleon Bonaparte, Ian Fleming and most famously, Sir Winston Churchill, a customer for over fifty years. Recently, C.W. Dixey have made Churchill’s iconic circular tortoiseshell frames available again. Named the Chartwell, the frames even include the two white dots added to the temple tips at the request of Sir Winston in 1941. I was privileged to work with C. W. Dixey in the 1990s at their Wigmore Street shop.

Winston Churchill wearing C.W. Dixey and Son glasses

Sir Winston Churchill wearing C.W. Dixey and Son

DOLLOND AND AITCHISON

Established by Peter Dollond in Vine Street in 1750, Dollond and Aitchison would go on to become a long-lasting and extensive chain of retail opticians with a reputation for innovation and clever presentation. In the 1990s, D&A launched computer analysis for eyesight prescriptions promoted with TV adverts featuring beefy screen actor Burt Reynolds. Italian frame manufacturer De Rigo purchased D&A for around 50 million pounds in 1999 and in 2009 the brand was absorbed by Boots. Since then their stores have gradually been refitted on the high street as Boots Opticians.