Vin­tage shapes frame eyes, pick up color

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE&STYLE - MAR­QUES G. HARPER

A mil­lion years ago — O.K., it was the sev­enth grade — I was ob­sessed with eye­glasses and willed the uni­verse to give me a slight pre­scrip­tion so I could get a pair. My de­sire was for the sake of fashion.

The first pair had a wire frame and round lenses. And you know what? I wouldn’t be caught dead in them to­day.

Eye­wear evolves just as we do. To re­flect my life as a fashion writer, I most re­cently bought a funky pair of sleek, green LaFonts with squar­ish lenses, criss-cross de­tail­ing on the arms and a metal­lic green streak across the top of the frame.

Your glasses tell a story about who you are to­day.

That presents a daunt­ing task when it comes time to find the per­fect frame that fits you and your bud­get.

There’s hope. The beauty of 2010 is that eye­wear frames are more than black and tor­toise op­tions.

Lines such as Salt, Tom Ford, Gucci and La­Font of­fer frames in col­ors such as red, blue, gold and green.

Then there is vin­tage eye­wear, which came into play more than a year ago, evok­ing mid­cen­tury de­sign themes from the 1940s and ’50s as well as the more re­cent retro styles of the 1960s and ’70s.

“It is at an all-time high,” said James J. Spina, edi­tor in chief of in­dus­try mag­a­zine 20/20. “It’s huge. It’s hot.”

Brands Oliver Peo­ples, Con­verse, Lucky Brand and Paul Smith of­fer fine retro se­lec­tions.

Spina used Nike as an ex­am­ple. This fall, the brand, which didn’t of­fer op­ti­cal frames in the 1960s, will re­lease a vin­tage op­ti­cal col­lec­tion that will ap­pear to have been in­spired by Nike’s archives, he said.

Un­like the past decade, new op­ti­cal frames are be­ing de­signed with larger lenses, which fol­lows the trend in sun­glasses from mak­ers such as Ray-Ban, Tory Burch, John Var­vatos, Diane von Fursten­berg and Madonna’s new MDG line with Dolce & Gab­bana.

“There’s def­i­nitely a re­vival of retro, and I think it will al­ways be strong in the Austin mar­ket,” said John Ca­vanaugh, a li­censed op­ti­cian at Stars in Your Eyes (714 Congress Ave. 477-9000; 2116 Han­cock Drive. 3710144, www.starsiny­oureyes.com). “Trends do evolve, and even­tu­ally ev­ery­thing old is new again.”

In re­cent weeks, I browsed the shelves at Gene Rogers Op­ti­cal (2700 W. An­der­son Lane. 451-7316), Santa Fe Op­ti­cal (var­i­ous Austin lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing 1601 W. 38th St. 451-1213, www.santafe op­ti­cal.com), Eclec­tic Eye­wear (2510 Guadalupe St. 4725881, www.eclec­ticeyewear.biz) and other Austin shops.

Some years you look for glasses and you score, as I did with my all-time fa­vorite frames, a pair of sim­ple black Guc­cis that pop my eyes. Or you lose, as was the case when I opted for frames from Ogi Eye­wear that al­ways slid down my nose de­spite nu­mer­ous ad­just­ments. Big mis­take, and I next opted for a new ver­sion of the Guc­cis.

“It’s not like you’re buy­ing a T-shirt you wear ev­ery two weeks,” Ca­vanaugh said. “It’s such a part of you for that pe­riod of time. It’s an ex­pen­sive mis­take if you make a mis­take.”

Cus­tomers have asked him for styles rem­i­nis­cent of glasses worn by Buddy Holly and Mal­colm X. Mod­ern news­mak­ers such as Sarah Palin, whose frames were a hit, and celebri­ties, in­clud­ing Justin Tim­ber­lake, Jay-Z and Tina Fey, have in­flu­ence, too.

Ca­vanaugh said, “I have peo­ple who will come in and say, ‘I want Sarah Palin’s glasses,’ and peo­ple come in and say, ‘I don’t want Sarah Palin’s frame.’ Hers made such a strong state­ment.”

The trick to find­ing the per­fect frame is to know your face and get your pre­scrip­tion. Whether you go to a home-grown op­ti­cal store or na­tional store, I say treat shop­ping for glasses like car shop­ping. Try on dif­fer­ent frames, take pho­tos of your­self, or come back to the store later.

An eye pre­scrip­tion will de­ter­mine what frames will work (the stronger the pre­scrip­tion, the smaller the frame should be to avoid the Coke-bot­tle ef­fect), and then your face comes into play. The rule is to con­trast your face shape. On a long face, opt for a shal­low rec­tan­gu­lar frame. A round face? Try an an­gu­lar shape. An oval face is easy to fit.

Try­ing to de­ter­mine your face shape? There’s on­line help such as Hous­ton-based Frames Di­rect, which has an Austin of­fice. In ad­di­tion to sell­ing frames, the web­site (www.frames­di­rect.com) of­fers face shape de­scrip­tions as well as celebrity ex­am­ples for the Us Weekly-chal­lenged — Sarah Jes­sica Parker (ob­long), Cameron Diaz (round), Madonna (di­a­mond), Halle Berry (heart), Keith Ur­ban (triangle), Bey­oncé (oval) and San­dra Bul­lock (square) – and what op­tions might work for each shape.

“Cus­tomers know what they want,” said Ashley Kleine, of­fice man­ager at Op­tique Eye­wear (360 Nue­ces St. 472-3937, www.op­tique austin.com). “Some­times what they think they want doesn’t look great on their face.”

The right eye­wear fit can give some­one a dose of sex ap­peal, geek chic or at­ti­tude. (Ca­vanaugh said he has worked with lawyers look­ing for at­ti­tude glasses to wear sim­ply for the court­room. “Peo­ple are warm­ing up to the fact that it’s more than vi­sion correction,” he said.)

Like me, Will Lu­cas knows the beauty and mys­tique of glasses. He is near-sighted and owns a pair of pri­mary glasses and two pair of pre­scrip­tion sun­glasses. He has worn five pairs of glasses in the past decade, in­clud­ing his first pair which were Polo Ralph Lau­ren and a metal frame. (“They were funky,” said the 31-year-old Austin pho­tog­ra­pher. “I would never wear them again.”)

He wants to move on from the black, thick-plas­ticframed Prada glasses he bought four years ago while liv­ing in Colum­bus, Ohio.

“I’m ready for a change,” Lu­cas said. “I get a lot of com­pli­ments. Peo­ple say, ‘Why don’t you get Lasik,’ but I say, ‘No.’ I like my glasses. I’ve ca­su­ally looked here and there. I want to stick with the black frame but some­thing maybe rounder. I’ve seen some peo­ple wear­ing some re­ally cool Dolce & Gab­bana glasses. I think mine give me that cre­ative look. Es­pe­cially as a pho­tog­ra­pher, clients ex­pect me to be stylish.”

Lu­cas told me he’s hop­ing to ex­pand on his ca­reer as a pho­tog­ra­pher, and wants to take pho­tos of bands, hip­sters, DJs and what he called “sexy peo­ple.”

“Prefer­ably if they are wear­ing glasses,” Lu­cas said. “We glasses peo­ple have to stick to­gether.”

Mary Ellen Mathews NbC

In or out of char­ac­ter as Liz Le­mon from ‘ 0 Rock,’ Tina Fey is among celebri­ties whose eye­wear wields in­flu­ence.

con­Verse Shapes in­spired by mid-20th-cen­tury looks are hot­ter than ever, and the trend for large lenses in sun­glasses is com­ing to op­ti­cal eye­wear. Top: John Var­vatos Brown Horn, $220. Cen­ter: Lucky Brand Demo, $64. Bot­tom: Con­verse Her­itage Iconic, $ 8.92.

John Var­Vatos

lucky brand

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