Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jeepers Creepers, Where'd Ya Get Those Peepers?

Jean says:

I love wearing glasses! However, recently, after "blind as a bat" became more than a just a funny phrase, I finally broke down and got an eye exam. Considering that it had been more than five years since my last one (where does the time go?), I guess it's no surprise that my prescription had changed a lot. The need for new lenses, combined with my Flexible Spending Accounts' looming deadline, prompted my recent search for new frames.

Certain women are instantly recognizable by their glasses, like Edith Head, one of Hollywood's most famous costume designers. Edith was known for her black round frames.

Another case in point is Lina Wertmuller, Italian film director who started out as an assistant director on Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 and went on to direct Swept Away and Seven Beauties. Lina was known for her stark white rectangular frames.

Without my glasses, I'm like Mr. Magoo, so it is challenging to try on new frames because it is so hard to know what you really look like. Leave it to Valerie to find the solution to the age-old dilemma of trying to visualize yourself in frames without the benefit of prescription lenses! Valerie just took my picture in each pair of frames I tried on, then I'd don my prescription glasses to inspect how I looked - by viewing the screen of her digital camera. Eureka! Fin de problem.

Glasses are a lot like hats. What looks great on one woman may just look simply ordinary (or hysterical) on another. You have to be adventurous. And yet, one must also practical: An important consideration in selecting glasses is not just how they look, but also how they feel, especially if, like me, you have them sitting on your face for 18 hours a day. On two recent weekends, we hit several stores and optical shops in Soho and the East Village. We thought it would be fun to share some of the more and less successful experiments with you. The photos that made the final cut are from Ilori on Spring Street and Prada on Broadway at Prince Street in Soho and Avenue A Optical at 43 Avenue A in the East Village. Let the games begin:

The pair of La Perla frames I am wearing has black lace embedded in the temples. Ooh la la.

Imagine our surprise to learn that La Perla, the company known for its fabulously sexy lingerie line, now also produces eyeglasses. So THAT'S what they do with all the little left over bits!

Meow! I've always had a soft spot in my heart for cat eye frames. (Frames by jewelery designer Loree Rodkin.)

[Valerie sez: Here's Jean doing her best Karl Lagerfeld.]

[And look! Just add a little static electricity to the hair, and we could get Jean bookings as an Andy Warhol impersonator! (Clear frames by Geek.)]

Geometric shapes are also hot.

Round glasses have been and always will be the purview of the following:

architect Philip Johnson,

fashion editor Carrie Donovan and

fashion icon Iris Apfel.

Perhaps I should just leave the round glasses to them and to Harry Potter. (Frames by Geek.)

Rectangular frames are also very popular shapes, in all sorts of color combinations.

Black and orange frames are by Donna Karan.

The turquoise blue temples on these are standouts.

These rectangular frames by East Village designer Moss Lipow have a groovy tilt. The texture of the frame feels like bakelite.

The white edging inside the black frame is quite fetching.

The gold bubbles on the temples remind me of champagne bubbles.

The animal kingdom is another rich source of inspiration.

Giraffe print heart-shaped cat eyes combined too many of my favorite themes for my puny brain to rationally ponder. (Alas, vintage giraffe frames are for display only.)

These zebra prints probably looked better on their original owners.

Tortoise shell (faux) frames are a look I've rocked in my time. No one from my past, however, should feel the need to step forward.

You know you're onto something when the owner of the shop is laughing uncontrollably in the background! These squared off round black frames are also by local designer, Moss Lipow.

I always liked clear frames.

I was transfixed by a Prada ad in the March issue of Vanity Fair of large, clear plexiglass tilted rectangular eyeglasses. I tore out the picture and took Valerie with me to the Soho store to track them down. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I was informed that the glasses in the ad were "just for the press" and were not actually in production for the general public. While we were there, we both tried on the watered down version of the Prada glasses in pink! Valerie was wearing the pink piggies on her hat and necklace that were featured in last week's posting.


The co-author of this blog has determined that a photograph posing a threat to her self esteem was posted in the above space. That photograph has been removed and replaced with the two photographs below, which the co-author has approved for public consumption. [Jean says: Unfortunately, Valerie's removal of that photo, which showed her in pink glasses wearing her pink piggies necklace, also necessitated removal of a spectacular byline to this week's posting: "This little piggy went to Prada." Alas, it ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor.]

[Valerie says: sorry, folks, I just had to delete that photograph. Did you know that it is not permitted to take photographs of royals eating? Seems they just don't think they look very regal stuffing food into their mouths.They have their image to protect, after all. I like that image protection concept, so I'm taking the liberty of borrowing it here. These two photos were taken at the Pier Show, where after a day of looking at glasses with Jean I got into the spirit of the new Must Have accessory thing, trying on fabulous Claude Montana glasses (with cut out cars?, and a conveniently placed white sticker) and equally fabulous (hand carved?) snake glasses with no bridge at the nose. When we came back an hour later, the snake glasses were gone. I'm convinced the dealer has us to thank for that.]

AHEM! Back to Jean:

Jean says: As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted: "Step away from the frames, ma'am."

I have seen the future and it is bug-eyed. This next series of frames channeled my inner Palm Beach matron. It's not a look I would recommend for the non-octogenarian. (1st pair are vintage '80s Laura Biagiotti frames.)

Is anyone nostagic for those big '80s gradient lenses?

Too big, too round and too pearly white, and I'm not talking about Julia Roberts' smile.

Yes, children, the Bauhaus credo was correct. Less is more, and in some cases too much is simply too much.

The following frames fall into the category of "It seemed like a good idea at the time." (Or ISLAGIATT to the texters among you.)

Excuse me, but am I wearing these glasses or are they wearing me?

Who knew RayBans came in pearly white?

And the winner is....

No fair - Jean's peeking!...

Daniel Libeskind!

In the end, I chose these "Scimitar" frames by Moss Lipow. I really like how they felt on my face. Getting frames I love while also supporting a local artisan is like having your cake and eating it too. After my purchase, while researching this posting, I checked out Moss Lipow’s website. How can you not love somebody whose motto is: "Dandyism is the last flicker of heroism in decadent ages"? Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Bonus Celebrity in Spectacles: Peggy Guggenheim

You can have your very own pair of Peggy Guggenheim's glasses by clicking here for a link to the Guggenheim Museum Store.

And last but not least:


Click on the title above for more information and photographs, but the web info doesn't come close to doing the exhibition justice. If you're in New York City, this is a great opportunity to see traditional silver jewelry from China, India, Morocco and other countries that took silversmithing to a high art without benefit of electricity and other such helpful shortcuts.


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  2. Love your review. Love the story. Really love the crazy picture!

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