"" wondermomo: OLIVER PEOPLES "Sofiane"

Monday, November 2, 2009


What do all four of the Kates (Beckinsale, Holmes, Walsh, & Hudson) have in common, you ask yourself? Well, they were all among the first to realise the appeal of the Oliver Peoples “Sofiane” sunnies.
In 1986, ophthalmologist Larry Leight & his brother Dennis happened on an auction for an assortment of rare eyewear from the 20s and 30s, including thousands of beautifully filigreed rimless & metal frames produced by iconic American companies (e.g. Bausch & Lomb, American Optical). The frames were unworn, in mint condition, in their original packaging. The brothers snapped up the entire lot, which included a receipt signed with the name “Oliver Peoples”, who they reasoned was the original owner or distributor. When the brothers opened their first eyewear shop on Sunset Plaza (West Hollywood, California), a stylish, gallery-like boutique, it seemed only fitting to use that name for th
e store.
Larry Leight’s own collection, inspired by the vintage frames from that estate sale & naturally also named Oliver Peoples, debuted at Vision Expo East as wholesale in 1987. Although the unveiling
was a departure from the futuristic styles & geometric shapes dominant in the late 80s, it was fortuitously timed, as runway fashion was moving in a vintage-inspired direction.
Leight’s designs hit a goldmine & gained him instant international exposure. Oliver Peoples became an optical phenomenon, literally changing the course & perception of eyewear in the 20th century.
In 2006, Leight sold the company (with the exception of his original boutique) to Oakley, itself acquired by Luxottica in 2007.
Finely crafted using quality materials, Oliver Peoples glasses were (& still are) manufactured in limited quantity, with deliberate anti-logo labeling so that only people “in the know” would recognise them. In an interview last year, Leight stated that the new Oliver Peoples
Suspended Metal series was his favourite. As the debut style of this series, Sofiane features a hand-laid metal wire encased in two layers of hand-sculpted plastic, a technology that took several years to develop. This labour of love has clearly been worthwhile, as Sofiane has become the design of choice for many fashion forward individuals & Hollywood elite.

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