From the surfers on Malibu Beach to the kale-munching tech entrepreneurs in Venice, sunglasses have always been mandatory in LA. The big blue skies demand you protect your eyes, and the culture of cool encourages you to underline your allegiance to a ‘tribe’. The choice of silhouette, frames and lenses helps define your place in the sprawling citywhere denim and T-shirts remain de rigueur.
‘LA has a mystique that has always existed because of the entertainment business, but beyond the red carpet, there is a really diverse culture that is worth talking about,’ says Larry Leight, founder of Oliver Peoples. Established in 1987, the vintage-inspired brand appealed to the creative classes, yuppies and business moguls alike, and garnered a cult status when its tortoiseshell O’Malley frames were worn by Patrick Bateman in the film American Psycho. Leight sold Oliver Peoples to Italian eyewear giant Luxottica in 2009.
Now, with his son Garrett, Larry has launched luxury eyewear brand Mr Leight, promoting it with a lo-fi glamour campaign shot by photographer Henrik Purienne and featuring Jane Birkin doppelganger, actress and model Emily Labowe. Prices hover around the $600-$800 mark for the striking frames, handmade in Japan and detailed with hex hinges, exposed adjustable coil temples, removable top bars, and discreet titanium and pearl nose pads.
In other words, Mr Leight is a treat for eyewear geeks. Designs are named after local boulevards and landmarks, such as the Mulholland and the Beverly. The Rodeo is a sleek aviator with a choice of semi-precious-metal coated lenses, while the Getty is a square design crafted in subtly-patterned cured Japanese acetate. All eyewear comes with rose gold geometric cases.
Between father and son, there is substantial expertise to draw on. Larry launched Oliver Peoples after finding a New Jersey warehouse full of vintage opticals from the 1940s and 1950s. Meanwhile, Garrett’s first venture, in 2009, was a lifestyle concept store in Venice Beach selling eyewear with vintage Oliver Peoples frames alongside books, objets and magazines. He then launched the Garrett Leight California Optical (GLCO) line, shooting it on local bartenders, musicians and actors, and he now oversees five stores in the US. The Mr Leight line is available at the five GLCO stores, as well as from select retailers, including DSM and Bergdorf Goodman.
As originally featured in the January 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*226)
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