Framed: A Night with Oliver Peoples
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Celebrating his arrival to New York, Oliver Peoples founder Larry Leight hosted a dinner for a handful of Fashion City’s scribes… including this lucky lady from 5th/58th. Since opening their first shop in 1986, opticians (and brothers) Larry and Dennis Leight have made geek chic with an enviable catalog of frames that speak to the aspirational and inspirational… with a laid-back California attitude.
Always feeling a bit vintage and bookish, Oliver Peoples began their story with an estate collection of vintage American-made eyewear spanning the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Found in the lot was a receipt with the name Oliver Peoples… it sounded right and British, intellectual and established so the brothers rolled with it, deciding that it only was appropriate to use the name in this man’s honor. That was the moment when they decided to present vintage-inspired eyewear in a gallery-like setting — which, during the 80s, eyewear was quite the opposite and more like this. Some of their original styles included an innovative clip-on sunglass option (which, quite honestly, was quite convenient for a certain myopic girl who liked to hit the slopes or beach without switching frames). These were the sort of spectacles that almost seemed better suited for a cozy bookshop or perched on the nose of Gregory Peck (we’ll get to that in a bit)… however, Leight’s carefree surfer attitude were always a part of the brand’s signature style and heritage.
Soon enough, Oliver Peoples signified more than frames and lenses — it became a lifestyle, marked by a jet-setter’s laissez-faire schedule of adventure, good books and robust conversation (naturally set to the tunes of Oliver Peoples CDs). Leight fully grasped this momentum; fueling the idea of this lifestyle with the need look, collect (the designer himself has custom-made drawers for his eyewear) and find inspiration. The designer revealed his inspiration is found in many places — from the streets of Tokyo to his library of frames dating back to 1935. His most prized pair? Gold spectacles from 1935 that originally were sold for $1.50 (after which the designer confessed that quality vintage frames no longer can be found at flea markets. An audible sigh was had by all of us.).
Leight also uses Los Angeles and its thriving community of collaborators to expand his artistry and imagination; most recently working with Anthony Peck, son of Gregory Peck, to recreate the actor’s signature frames from To Kill a Mockingbird (a portion of the proceeds will benefit the LA Public Library). Beyond celebrity, Leight often partners with notable fashion houses for limited-edition creations (Balmain’s most recently graced the pages of our magazine). In addition to this, the designer is an avid listener — absorbing commentary and constructive criticism from his customers. ”I gotta walk into Bergdorfs and hear what’s going on,” Leight commented over a dessert of grilled peach and fig shortcake. And that’s just what Larry is doing right now: visiting our Main Floor and listening to what you have to say. So why don’t you give us a visit?
BG’s exclusive Q & A with Larry Leight:
Bergdorf Goodman: Considering all of the frames that have been designed throughout time, which specs are your favorite?
BG: Considering your vast collection, which frame is your favorite?
LL: O’Malley, Benedict (a major aviator!) and Daddy B.
BG: What is your most popular frame? Did this surprise you?
LL: Aero. And yes, that it is still number one – I don’t know why. Women like them because they look good on small faces.
BG: Do you consider glasses as a necessity or an accessory?
LL: They are a necessity if you have a prescription. Sunglasses are a necessity, period. You should wear them to look like an accessory.
BG: Who was one of the most exciting people to see wearing Olive Peoples?
LL: Brad Pitt, Kate Moss, Spielberg, are the three big ones. To see these people wear them is something to be proud of.
BG: Did you ever think that your brand would become so widely recognized and worn by people world-wide?
LL: I didn’t used to think about things like that. When people ask are you going to get bigger? I said, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t have that attitude. I always want to see the right people wearing them, not how many.
BG: Amid all of your travel, where did you see your frames worn that most surprised you?
LL: The success in Asia and the Japanese market. They loved that vintage thing.
Meet Larry Leight
Here to present the OLIVER PEOPLES COLLECTION
Thursday, June 16
Join us for an OLIVER PEOPLES Trunk Show this Thursday, June 16 – Saturday, June 18.
Mention this post and enjoy* a $100 credit toward prescription lenses with a purchase of an Oliver Peoples, Paul Smith or Mosley Tribes Frame.
212 872 2526
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* valid June 15-30 on Main Floor of Bergdorf Goodman. Not applicable to prior purchases.