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Pop-up in Gogosha Optique offers full Oliver Goldsmith collection

October 12, 2013|By Ingrid Schmidt
  • Bespoke eyeglasses frames from Oliver Goldsmith include a variety of color and pattern options.
Bespoke eyeglasses frames from Oliver Goldsmith include a variety of color… (Oliver Goldsmith )

If you haven’t heard of British eyewear brand Oliver Goldsmith, think of Michael Caine’s signature black glasses, John Lennon’s iconic granny glasses and Audrey Hepburn’s oversize sunnies in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Other A-list clients of the heritage label include Sophia Loren, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Princess Diana, Ursula Andress, the duke of Windsor, Peter Sellers and Mick Jagger. Grace Kelly owned at least 20 pairs of the glasses; Goldsmith once traveled to the palace in Monaco, where she commissioned him to create 11 pairs.

More recently, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Jennifer Garner, Kate Moss and Kate Beckinsale have been spotted in Oliver Goldsmith glasses. Both Kates wear the 1960 Audrey Hepburn style. Gaga’s spectacles collection includes the 1964 Goo Goo, the 1966 Y-Not and the 1963 Audrey, another style worn by Hepburn.

Now through Oct. 31, Gogosha Optique has transformed its West 3rd Street boutique into a pop-up shop dedicated to showcasing the complete current collection of Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses, Oliver Goldsmith Mini Icons children’s sunglasses and Claire Goldsmith Eyewear, a line created by the great-granddaughter of P. Oliver Goldsmith, who founded the company in 1926. The pop-up is a first for Goldsmith.

“I love that they’re an archival collection that respects its heritage and history but is still relevant today,” said Julia Gogosha, who has carried pieces of the line in her shop since 2008 and is one of just 10 locations in the world to also offer the label’s bespoke glasses. 

While the Oliver Goldsmith company temporarily disbanded in the 1980s, Claire Goldsmith relaunched the brand in 2006 with a retrospective focus, remaking the original styles and stamping each one with the original issue date.

“My uncle had kept every frame we ever made from 1926 to 1985 in boxes, dated, in the attic -- an amazing archive,” said Claire Goldsmith, in Los Angeles for the shop-in-a-shop’s launch party. “We have approximately 5,000 pairs of frames, and 500 of the best are in the archive room in our store in London. I didn’t know how to make eyewear, so I learned over four years, from the ground up.”

Current collections always feature about 25 designs, and each time a new style is introduced, an existing style ceases production. But all the archival designs are available for bespoke order, made to custom specifications.

According to Goldsmith, the company works with one of two factories in the United Kingdom that still make handcrafted eyeglasses.

“Three craftsmen work away daily to create individual frames, one by one,” Goldsmith said. “I take it as my responsibility to ensure that we educate the world about how special something handmade is and to maintain a price point that allows the service to be accessible to enough people, so that we can put enough orders in to justify bringing new apprentices in and training them in what is basically a dying art.”

While designing eyewear for her family company, Claire Goldsmith began to think of design ideas that didn’t fit in with the retrospective concept of the Oliver Goldsmith brand, so the Claire Goldsmith line debuted in 2010.

“It represents more contemporary and forward-thinking designs but upholds the same integrity and respect to craftsmanship,” said the designer, whose line is distinguished by a beveled arrow design at the temples.

Visionary thinking runs in the family. P. Oliver Goldsmith’s son Oliver -- Claire Goldsmith’s grandfather -- also worked in the family business. He thought of product placement when he went to the cinema for the first time. 

 “He wrote in his diary that he was in awe of how huge the actors were on the screen, and how people seemed mesmerized by the images,” Claire Goldsmith said. “He had thought to himself that if he could get his glasses on those actors that the audiences would be staring up, looking at his frames, and that people might even want to emulate that. So he started to hang around film sets and befriend stylists.”

In the 1950s, Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses were some of the first featured in Vogue magazine. He partnered with notable fashion designers, such as Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy, as well as famed hair stylist Vidal Sassoon, launching a pyramid-shaped frame that mimicked the triangular cut of the bangs on Sassoon’s 1966 geometric hairstyle.

During the 1950s and '60s, Goldsmith introduced innovative materials, including tortoiseshell, bamboo, leather, wood-grain plastic and lizard-skin finishes; he even created frames shaped like butterfly wings, square television sets with miniature aerials and tennis rackets with crisscross lines over the lenses. One attention-getting pair had a switch over the the nosepiece that changed the lenses from shades of pale to blackout.

In 1958, Goldsmith said, “A woman wouldn’t dream of wearing the same shoes for shopping as she would for a party, yet she will put on the same old glasses. We are out to change that.”

Mission accomplished.   
Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses from $405 and bespoke frames from $925 (allow three months); Oliver Goldsmith Mini Icons, for children aged 4-12, from $150; Claire Goldsmith frames from $395. At Gogosha Optique, 8238 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 655-1122.


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