I know a bit about clothes and maybe kind of a lot about shoes, but when it came to sunglasses, I was clueless. Until last week when I spent the morning at Silver Lining Opticians. It's a hole in the wall on Thompson Street run by Jordan Silver and Erik Sacher and an absolute mecca of vintage frames. But before I really got it, I needed a tutorial. Here's how he explained it to me: In the early 80s, a man named Leonardo Del Vecchio started offering designers the opportunity to license eyewear. Before then, designers had treated the accessory as an extension of their ready-to-wear collection. For example, Christian Dior was one of the first brands to offer eyewear and he made super high quality frames that correlated to the kind of product on his runway. But Luxottica gave designers an "easy option," and over the years production quality's steadily declined.
In the early 90's, most companies switched over to licensing. Persol, an Italian brand that's been around since the 30's, was bought out in '93 and Rayban was bought by Luxottica in '91. So Silver Lining carries all Persols up to '93, all Raybans up to '91, original Diors and Balenciagas and so much more which means, since there are only so many shapes to fit the human face, when brands start looking for new ideas, they often turn to to Jordan. (Though they do also carry contemporary prescription eyewear, and their own brand, Silver Lining Opticians). "We started working with Tom Ford before we opened the store because his first collection was really vintage based," he explained. Those black Christian Roth frames Rihanna wore all over Paris Fashion Week? The $3,000 Jean Paul Gaultier glasses Gaga wore on SNL? Basically any pair of glasses you ever see on Jay-Z? They're here. They're also, in some cases at Jeffrey or Barneys and soon, hopefully, at a few more boutiques around the country. Jordan got his hands on over four hundred pairs of empty Rodenstock frames and wants to fit them with all different lenses - which is where mine (at left) came from - and sell them for $295 under their own label, Silver Lining Vintage. You can't buy them yet, but if you're in the market for new glasses, I'd make this your first stop.