Oliver Goldsmith fashioning Vidal Sasoon Sunglasses
Oliver Goldsmith was a titan in British eyewear design whose innovative designs became the look of many celebrities. John Lennon, Diana Dors, Peter Sellers, Diana Princess of Wales, Princess Grace of Monaco and Eric Morecambe were notable wearers of Goldsmith frames. The iconic sunglasses Audrey Hepburn wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s are often assumed to be Ray-Ban Wayfarers when they are in fact, Goldsmiths. Michael Caine’s ‘Harry Palmer’ glasses were also Goldsmiths. Founded in 1926, the Oliver Goldsmith Company ceased trading in 1985 but has recently been revived by Claire Goldsmith, Oliver’s great-granddaughter, who has all his designs going back to the beginning. The original offices were on Poland Street, a hundred metres or so from The Eye Company.
Another big bold name in British eyewear design is Tony Gross. A passionate optician, Gross became frustrated that he couldn’t stock the sort of frames he wanted in the shop he co-owned with Graham Cutler. In 1969, they decided to do it their way and together designed exactly the sort of spectacles that they loved. Handcrafted in Italy and with an emphasis on cool, Cutler and Gross are the most celebrated British eyewear brand abroad, frequently the spectacles of choice for the art, music and film world. They now produce a range for Victoria Beckham. What they aspire to in eyewear is very much what I aspire to.
By the mid-nineties, Gucci had rather fallen by the wayside as a trailblazing eyewear brand. The prevailing trend at the time was minimalist. The rimless frame and unobtrusively slim, sleek frame were ubiquitous. However, Gucci were soon at the forefront of pushing eyewear forward when they brought out a range of insanely heavy, thick, chunky frames. These geeky-chic glasses really took off and not for the first time, Gucci had the courage to move the times rather than follow the herd.