Longtime optician and owner of Gentlemen’s Breakfast Van de la Plante shares a few of his rare and coveted frames.

Our Collect department is not just limited to art but features collections of all types.  You, the optically-savy Installation reader can collect the frames that you will encounter in our digital pages and can become a participant in the narrative of these tremendous objects.

The collection is an arsenal of historical artifacts— the owner has dedicated every pair to memory, each lives in his mind’s eye.  He is fluent in their story, their provenance and their indelible impression on the past and the present.  Stepping into Gentlemen’s Breakfast, the world outside melts away.  Furnished in a parlor style, the showroom is clad with leather lounge chairs, glass bottles that presumably store spirits, a candlestick phone near the register and a carved wooden stand designed to house smoking pipes.  A vintage Louis Vuitton briefcase rests on top of a glass and mahogany display reminding us that we have left the present to briefly visit the past.

Many of the frames featured in “Collect” are truly one-of-a-kind.  Check out the online shop and peruse their unique inventory.  If there’s a particular frame you’re searching for, drop them a line or email.

The Collection

collect-2_710@2x“This pair has side shields which are very Steampunk.  These are Shopgoggles worn by guys working with metal or wood; the side shields kept shards of metal and wood shavings out of their eyes.  These were made in America in the 1930’s.”

collect-2_4004@2x “The Art Deco Butterfly— these frames are designed by Cazal and the most important thing about these frames is they are made in West Germany.  The new Cazals just say ‘Germany’ because West Germany no longer exists.  These vintage frames peaked in the 80’s and 90’s and were  worn by East Coasters in the streetware scene.”

collect-2_4080@2x“This pair is from the roaring 20’s.  They’re American made by American Optical, which has been around since 1844.  They’re 12 karat gold-filled and embellished with showcase art deco filigree around the eye wire and temples.  They have a riding temple (meaning the temple wraps behind the ears) which was designed during the Civil War to keep frames in place.  Originally, the US cavalry wore bayonet temples, but their glasses would fly off of their faces when they were riding.”

collect-2_4291@2x“These are 1960’s prison glasses.  They were issued to inmates in penitentiaries throughout the United States.  They were manufactured from dupont nylon without a metal rod inside the temple so inmates couldn’t shank each other.”

collect-2_4477@2x“Persol is one of my favorite eyewear brands; it has been around since 1917.  This pair is made from Cellulose Acetate, which is a mixture of cotton sea fibers, wood pulp and plastic.  I estimate that these are from the 60’s based on their round shape.  They’re completely unused and in mint condition: they have the original demo lenses as well as the original tag.”

collect-2_4624@2x“This pair is actually from the 80’s but were designed in the 40’s style.  I love these glasses.  My brother wears a pair, I’ve worn a pair.  Jacques Fath was an influential postwar haute couture designer who worked in wartime Paris in the 1940’s.  He was known for making women’s garments meant for bicycle-riding during the fuel crisis during WWII.  Jacques Fath designed beautiful dresses and skirts that had shell sequins on them, to be worn specifically while riding on a bicycle.  Coco Chanel was Fath’s arch nemesis as she had been rude to his wife.”

collect-2_4770@2x“These Cazal glasses were also made in West Germany.  Art Deco design came about in the 20’s, but had a resurgence in the 80’s in a much more flamboyant and colorful way with neon, pink, teal and magenta.  Both frames feature 4 inset rhinestones on the front of the frame.”

All images © of Van de la Plante