Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sight for Sore Eyes

Readers with flawless memories will recall that way back in July we posted about a shoot we did for Selima Optique, for which we were each rewarded with a pair of Selima glasses.   Here we are last Saturday trying on hand-painted wood frames made from recycled skateboards at Selima's Bond Street store.  Below is Jean in the black and white striped Virginie frames that she got from Selima in July.

And here's Katy Perry wearing Jean's glasses in her cover shoot for the October 2014 issue of Harper's Bazaar magazine.

At the time of our shoot, Valerie was satisfied with her 3.0 readers (the ones you've seen for the past few years), but all the while she knew that they were not doing the best possible job.  Our mutual favorite memory proving this point is the time we were at a vintage shop with high ceilings.  Valerie admired something waaay out of reach (a jumpsuit displayed on the wall way above our heads), and wondered out loud how much it was.  Jean immediately blurted out the price, and Valerie, astonished, asked Jean how she knew that.  "I read the price tag", said Jean matter-of-factly.  Uh-oh….

For the past several weeks, Valerie has had headaches, and a strong desire to go to sleep (that is, rest her eyes) early.  Finally, putting two and two together, Valerie realized it was time to get new glasses, so she called Selima Optique, who put her in touch with their Dr. Wendy, who sees patients at the Soho store location.

Dr. Wendy sat Valerie in a fabulous chair that must be 100 years old. Not sure if it's a barber's chair, dentist's chair or whether there really is such a thing as an eye doctor's chair, but it was wonderful.  Valerie is obscuring most of it, but you can see the porcelain arms here. Dr. Wendy kindly took the picture, which is not part of her job description.

If you've ever had your eyes examined,  you know you have to look at and read lines of  letters on the wall, gradually decreasing in size (I could not read the largest without squinting). And then there is the little dance of the lenses: can you see better or worse with this lens?  How about with this one?  Is this sharper?  Or is this sharper?  Finally the lenses and the eyes lined up, like five cherries in a slot machine, and Dr. Wendy put Valerie in a way cool mobile contraption (below).  "Walk around a little bit with this", she said, "and see if you're comfortable with it."  (The combination of lenses mimic what will eventually be progressive lenses, the kind that you can use to see three different distances depending on which part of the lens you use.)  If Valerie can read price tags 15 feet above her, these will be great!

The walking around part worked out just fine, so Dr. Wendy wrote out a prescription.

Every Selima Optique store is different, so Valerie wandered around a bit to see the sights, so to speak.  in the Soho store where they have paintings on the wall, all having to do with glasses.  The portrait below is perfect for a store selling eyeglasses.  They're really neat frames.

It was around 4pm, and the sun was blazing in.  It was impossible to get a good shot of this very well bred lady, so please forgive the bad shot.  (She actually looks great.)  She was too well bred to wear glasses, so Selima fitted her with a posthumous pair.

To drive home the point that everyone can and should wear Selima Optique glasses, there was also this canine portrait.  (The tool on the right in the photo is not in the painting, but was not ours to move.)

In one of the display cases were several horn rimmed glasses.

Have you ever wondered what they look like before they've been polished?  Selima answers that question.  They look like this:

That was day number one, which Valerie could handle by herself.  For the next step - the choosing of the frames - Valerie would need an objective eye - not to mention an eye that could see.  The problem with trying on glasses is that you have to take off your glasses to try on other frames, and of course the other frames have no prescription lenses.  How is one to know whether one has chosen a frame that looks merely okay, or positively fabulous?  So Valerie tried on a million frames, and Jean photographed them all so Valerie could put her glasses back on to look at the pictures. (Jean's comment, heavily edit by Valerie: "This is no exaggeration. She did try on one million frames, periodically flapping her arms in frustration, somewhat like a big flightless bird. It was very hard to make a decision when they all looked equally good.  Particularly hard for a rank amateur.")

This is a good time to mention Angel who works at Selima's Bond street location, who is the most knowledgeable and helpful salesperson we've encountered in a very long while. He was enormously valuable to the whole process by selecting a wide range of shapes and colors that neither of us might have picked for consideration. It was as if he chose styles that would start a dialogue. Angel's encyclopedic knowledge of the inventory of styles and colors and his infallible fashion sense are exceeded only by his camera-shyness. Despite our best attempts, he could not be cajoled into posing for a photo.

Take for example, these large rounded cat-eye frames that he selected. Neither of us would have thought to try them.  (That's the frame that's on a bit of a tilt - not Valerie's face.)

Likewise this square-edged pair.

Angel's comment on these was really interesting.  "Too 80's", he said.  "Like you haven't changed your glasses in 30 years.  Bordering on costume-y."  We appreciated Angel's no-nonsense attitude.  Too many people are happy to tell you everything looks great.

With our full approval, Angel brought out  black frames with glitter in the corners.    The glitter is very subtle.  It's not glued on, it's embedded within, and not visible from all angles.  The look is mainly serious, but a little tongue in cheek if you get up close enough.  Dr. Wendy added a non-glare component to Valerie's prescription, so she should be able to wear her new glasses while being photographed without reflections on the lens, as here.

These white pearl shaded frames were among his most interesting choices. Up close, they had a slightly pinkish tint that we agreed was extremely flattering with Valerie's skin tones.

In this side view, you can see model and photographer at work.

Valerie came really close to choosing the Pearls, and then wondered what they would look like from a distance.  Viewing herself in a mirror from about 20 feet away, the glasses disappeared.  Is that good or bad?  The jury is still out on that, but Valerie opted for looking the same whether at a distance or close up.  So here are the winning pair:

Valerie is as surprised as anyone that she chose ORANGE glasses. Despite loving anything red, she steadfastly refused red glasses, which she said made her look "feverish", and nixed three pairs of blue glasses which would have gone with her eyes. And what of the clash between orange glasses and red lipstick?  Who knows?  Valerie does not.  This is not the best picture, particularly not with the price tag hanging near her eye.  We were not thinking!  This is why we have not been invited to photograph for Vogue. But that nothwithstanding, Valerie is really happy with her choice.  They say it takes anywhere from no time at all to two weeks to learn to use progressive lenses, so there may be a bit of adjustment ahead, but forewarned is forearmed.

Mission finally accomplished, we both agreed we were starving and detoured for a nosh. We WON'T tell you about wandering into a second hand shop that had just received the most astonishing consignment of Issey Miyakes (SO worth every penny and SO out of our budgets), but we will tell you about stopping into Fabulous Fanny's, which carries "antique and vintage eyewear and clothing and optical oddities". There we saw - sorry, there's no better word for this - EYE CANDY.

The first thing that caught Valerie's eye was a pair of red polka dot frames, which she had to try on.  Yes, that DOES exactly contradict the line above about looking feverish in red.  So maybe it's the shape (wider at the outside), or maybe it's the white dots that break up the red, but…  Geez.  Why do eyeglasses have to be so expensive? Wouldn't it be great to have oh, maybe, five different pairs in different colors?  Valerie sure does want these!

One of the sales assistants took us to a small cabinet  featuring several pairs of wooden glasses.  Valerie fell in love all over again with a green and yellow pair which someone said reminded them of caterpillar colors.  The lenses only look dark in this picture.  These glasses were seriously fun.

Then there were the multicolored plastic frames.

And the frames that looked like hard plastic versions of the 3-D glasses worn in movies in the 1950s.

We both tried these Pierre frames with asymmetrical lenses.

The lens itself, not just the frame, incorporates that strangely curved shape which resembled the melting clock faces in a Salvador Dali painting.

We both tried on these vintage black and white striped Playboy frames with a decidedly 1960s look. Can't you just imagine these sunglasses on some swell cruising around Las Vegas in a convertible? (We do have such rich fantasy lives!)

The clear panel in each of the temples is much more visible in this shot.

Shopping for glasses gave us loads of ideas, and taught us something about how to look critically at our own faces.  (Hey, don't all women look critically at their own faces?!)

What we're wearing:
Jean is wearing a Patricia Fields Majesty Black red leather cap; Kyodon Jacket; Selima Optique Virginie black and white striped frames; black and white striped resin earrings and necklace from a flea market in Pompano Beach, FL; Underground black and white creepers from Trash & Vaudeville on St. Mark's Place; black harem pants from the Tibetan store on St. Marks Place; vintage bakelite and gold rings.

Valerie is wearing hand made ceramic earrings found at a thrift shop, a vintage unlabeled jacket in the style of Thierry Mugler, Jean Michel Basquiat print scarf from Uniqlo, Ivan Grundahl pants, unlabeled black rubber boots. (For those who might ask, Valerie's new glasses will be ready for pick-up next week.)


  1. So many exciting choices! Valerie makes a wonderful eyeglass model. I love the impact of the wooden frames but the colors seem unworkable to me.

  2. I can't resist saying--what eye candy in this post! As a wearer of eyeglasses, I too fantasize about having several pair of glasses to match my moods and outfits. Sigh. You've just fed that fantasy with these wonderful frames. Valerie you must get the red frames with dots. Seriously.

  3. Well, I love the orange frames. But I, too, love the red & white polka dot ones. I think I'd figure out how I could manage to acquire both! And Jean, that hat is gorgeous!
    jill in Ontario