Originally from Northern Ireland, I came to England seventeen years ago. My first proper job was in an opticians and I have never left the industry since (apart from one month at a bespoke shirt makers). I have sixteen years experience of the eyewear industry and have a passion for handmade spectacles and sunglasses with an eye on innovation in design.
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Monthly Archives: October 2011
One of the effects of running a store that specialises in the unusual is that you get a reputation for doing things that no other optician will take on. Sometimes it is as simple as repairing a frame that was deemed unrepairable by a high street optician, “Perhaps I can show you something from our latest ranges instead Sir?” but more often it is putting new lenses in an old frame. Especially when the frame in question is as special as these.
I was a little worried that these were real tortoise shell at first and it was the cause of many phone calls and emails to my elders and betters to get some advice. However the above mentioned tome let me know that they were in fact acetate.
The frames were made by a company called “Dixey”, formerly C.W. Dixey. As is stated on the case in the photo on the right, opticians to the King. In fact they supplied every British monarch excluding the current one with spectacles from the mid 18th century. Add to that Prime Ministers and movie stars and you have a heritage that any brand would kill for. How it fell from grace must be an interesting story.
Luckily, the current owner of the rights to the company realised the value of this heritage and has recently relaunched the brand with a collection inspired by the back catalogue of the Dixey brand. In fact, if you were at our party last month you might even have spoken to him. Some time back he showed me the file he had on the history of the company and the names that had been on their books; Winston Churchill, Peter Sellers, Royals from all over the world.
As you can see, one of the pairs folds up very compactly but both feature beautiful brass joints in a metal to metal configuration. Pinned joints of course and the folding one has the thinnest joint pins I have ever seen and I would not like to be tasked with finding replacements should it ever become necessary. As it is, putting new lenses in was not an easy task. Tortoiseshell or vintage plastic it matters not. Both are very brittle and real care must be taken. Lots of heat to soften the material.
When I was taking out the old lenses, I noticed that one was facing the wrong way and I put this down to a mistake by the person who originally put them in but as I was about to insert the second new lens, something struck me. What if there was a good reason for the lens to go in the wrong way on one side.
Suddenly it hit me. If the convex surface of both lenses face out, when you fold them in half the bulge of the lens will prevent it from slipping in behind the other. Now the concave surfaces face each other and it closes neatly. Success snatched from the jaws of defeat yet again.
So if you are from London or indeed The Provinces, and have a need for eyewear good enough for royalty, you could do worse than choose C.W. Dixey. You may even see them here one day if enough of you ask for it.
Summer is well and truly over but there is still some sun around. If you want to pick a new pair of sunglasses to deal with the unexpected sunshine we are having, you can do so here at McClintock Eyewear. All sunglasses are discounted with Struktur
at 30% off and everything else at 50% off, including, Paul Smith, Kirk Originals and Funk. If you are going skiing soon then this might be a good time to sort out your off piste look. If you are not going skiing, then I am sure you can find some reason.
A few months ago, I met with Filao Paris and chose a collection for the store and I can finally say they are here! A range of accessories to match the quality and the design ethos of my eyewear collections.
Filao Paris is owned and designed by Caroline Abram. A woman of diverse background, Caribbean, French, Polish and Indian. Add to this, her upbringing in Senegal and you have a pretty rich mix of influences to draw on. Her professional life started as an assistant in the family opticians but she soon exploited her love of accessories and jewellery to create a collection of spectacle chains, lorgnettes, loupes and monocles using the finest acetate, Swarovski crystal, wood and stone.
The acetate parts are hand made in France and Italy. The beads are made in India and Thailand. The Swarovski crystals come directly from Swarovski. These are then sent to Senegal to the town where Caroline grew up where a team assembles them and ships them back to the Filao store in Paris. Her love for the region meant that she wanted to keep a connection there and it provides employment for the people she grew up around.
As a collection they provide a stylish and beautifully made alternative to the cheap reading glasses you can pick up at the supermarket. If you like to keep your spectacles on a chain around your neck, why not do it with a chain that could easily double as a necklace, a piece of jewellery no less.
We have a broad selection now in store so if you want to have a look at Caroline’s amazing work, come in soon.
I recently had LIV magazine visit to find out what we are all about. We had a very long chat and photographer called Philip Sinden came too. Having your photograph taken repeatedly for two hours can be a little daunting but I was pleased with the result.
For the record, there are a few inconsistencies in the article, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have not been here but I have supplied spectacles for a few films directed by Tim Burton and on more than one occasion, featuring Johnny Depp. Sorry to disappoint JD fans and now there is no need to camp outside my shop in the hope that he will turn up. Also, I can’t say that I meant to give them the impression that I am pleased that eyewear fashion moves so slowly, and in fact it could move a little more quickly for me but it is true that it does change every seven or eight years. By that I mean a whole new direction but there are some minor shifts in between to keep things interesting.
Hope you enjoy the piece.
I guess enough time has passed for me to write my piece on the Paris trip. Sorry for the delay but I was also in Amsterdam last weekend on a less than business trip. Good times in both cities but what happened in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam. Let me tell you about Paris.
Paris this year was probably the best since my first in terms of excitement. There was a real positive atmosphere and lots of new and interesting things to look at. New brands, new styles and new attitudes to eyewear.
My trip this year was shorter than usual and I had to forego my annual pilgrimage to Le Relais de l’Entrecote. Very disappointing for me and no doubt for the waitress who usually serves me. No Velibs, no wandering round the 5th arrondissement, strictly business this year. Probably not a bad thing.
Before I even set off, I was studying the floor plan of the trade show and I was struck by how many names were new to me. When you go every year, you see the same names come up again and again if I have not shown an interest yet, there is probably a good reason. This year, while planning my attack on the unsuspecting eyewear brands in Villepinte, I found myself wondering who these people were. So I knew I would have a busy time getting around it.
Unfortunately, as always, a lot of these new brands were copies of brands that not only did it first, but do it better. Once an idea wins a prize at the Silmo D’Or, expect copycats to follow. Lots of wooden brands this year but none as interesting as the M.A.D.E. frames I already have in store. However, there were some genuinely interesting new ideas out there. Some will come to the store later in the year or early next year but sooner than that, Res/Rei
I first met the designer Olivieri a few years ago while he and a friend were in London working as design consultants. We had a long talk about eyewear and they admitted that they were planning a eyewear brand soon. I knew from meeting them both that what they came up with would be something special and told them to let me know as soon as they were ready for the market. Olivieri’s partner unfortunately got himself a well paid and high profile job in America so their collaboration was not to be but Olivieri soldiered on and this is the outcome of his labour.
It was the most exciting new concept I have seen in a while. They are beautifully made and there is a real desire for these frames to seen as durable and long lasting, indeed they are labelled “Hand made with love in Italy.” The hinges have springs that have a very wide flex but even better is that the hinges are replaceable should they wear out. Something which is not possible on other spring hinges and that is why I have never stocked a brand that features spring hinges till now. I will write a full feature on them then they arrive in a couple of weeks.
Of the brands I already carry, there were great new shapes and amazing new colours from Kilsgaard and Framers, whose Airline themed booth drew lots of attention. See Marie, Coco and Micha in their excellent uniforms below.
As expected, the Paul Smith stand was incredibly busy and I just don’t queue so today I saw the new frames in the comfort of 29 Floral St. There some wonderful new shapes and colours which will be in stock in the coming weeks.
It wasn’t a total washout socially, I did manage a respectable night out with two unnameable eyewear designers. Which included the revelation that there exists such as thing as electric bagpipes! Here is a photo to prove we didn’t hallucinate it. Till next year Paris…
Back at work and have loads to tell you. Will have to wait till I piece it all together. All I can say now is that is was a great show and there was lots of positivity. Full update in the coming days.