Much as I would have liked to – and many would believe me if I said I had – I did not style Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter spectacles. I did, however, have a minor, more walk-on, support role in the styling. Introduced to the production of the first film by Simon Murray, a costume designer with such a vast and varied collection of eyewear he’s known as Mr Specs, I fitted the lenses for the frames Radcliffe wore in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The boy wizard’s simple round black metal spectacles in the film are based on an Alga [link] design, originally for the NHS, that was later revived in their Saville Row range as the Warwick. How I came to own several of the pieces from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is that early in the shooting Radcliffe realised he was allergic to nickel, a key component in the Warwick, and hence the frames had to be redesigned without that metal. The nickel variants ended up in my collection. Even so, allergy-inducing or not, Daniel Radcliffe wearing those frames in the Harry Potter films had a massive influence on how wearing glasses was seen by children and young teenagers. It made sporting a pair of studious-looking specs seem cool for a change.
Although I don’t fit frames for many children, if I did and asked, ‘Would you like to look like Harry Potter?’ the answer was inevitably, ‘yes, please’. Alternatively, the Harry Potter connotation had a negative effect on people in their twenties and thirties who wanted more sophisticated eyewear that didn’t make them look schoolboyish or wide-eyed and innocent. In this context, looking like Harry Potter could be seen to remove from them adult aspiration and appeal. A pair of Harry Potters could provoke the same cringe as a Dame Edna Everage [link to E, Everage] or Dierdre Barlow.