Framed

My fashion designer friend asked to borrow my reading glasses the other day. He has reached that certain age where his usually sharp, blue gaze needs some assistance. Being the sort of guy who gets up at 5am in the morning to spray on his tan, I wondered how he would cope with wearing glasses. At school, I was the first girl in the class to get glasses – at age 6!

I loathed them.

At 19, I suffered in contact lenses and the minute it was possible I got my eyes fixed; now needing only a pair of reading glasses to read the fine print. But my friend embraced his failing eyesight like he had suddenly found a whole new brand of designer jeans to try on.
First he researched the materials; plastics, metals, vintage tortoise-shell, then spent his weekends visiting the shops to investigate the shape, colours and embellishments…..and this is all before he has his eyes tested!

Suddenly the huge phenomena of the designer spectacle frames crossed the horizon. I had thought this was a specialist area, like engineering a false leg, but no, if you have a designer name – you have eyewear.
Designer sunglasses are nothing new – years ago I bought two expensive pairs; one pair for the beach and one pair for everyday and then get the lenses replaced every few years. That way $350 a pair is a good investment. But if you are wearing glasses the whole time, forget fashion trends, the shape of the frame is crucial. It sits on the part of you that everyone sees and remembers – the frame has to work for your face.

So my heart sank when the day came to choose his frames – every pair looked the same, nasty rectangles in colours that can throw a horrible sheen on the cheeks. There was every designer in town and beyond. It was overwhelming and confusing.

Why would Vera Wang design glasses? No bride would walk down the aisle wearing specs! Four hours later my friend had what he wanted – rimless, elegant, titanium frames with a discrete very up-market signature along the sides. The colour worked with every one of his fabulous silk ties and his blue eyes were suitably enhanced. He looked fabulous, was a staggering $700 poorer and completely thrilled with his new specs. I suspect he is secretly planning his own signature collection.

I realised that I had got this wrong. I still had a childhood fear of being the ugly girl in the glasses. I had overlooked the exciting opportunity to explore a new identity – to enhance my academic credentials, to be sheathed in a Chanel suit, provocatively sucking the end of my frames as I explain something intellectually challenging and very, very difficult to my next victim.

Now those titanium frames come in how many colours?