When Larry Leight went into partnership with his son in 2016, it was no ordinary family business enterprise. In 1987 Leight senior was the founder of Oliver Peoples, now one of the most influential eyewear brands in the States. His son founded his own brand – Garrett Leight California Optical – in 2011. Their joint venture, Mr Leight, is a design collaboration inspired by Californian surfing lifestyle, Venice Beach and the work of photographer Slim Aarons – in other words, a uniquely sun-drenched, West Coast kind of glamour. “It’s a modern-day interpretation of the jet-set aesthetic,” explains Garrett Leight.
The first frames from Mr Leight go on sale in select stores worldwide from today, and in London will be available exclusively from Dover Street Market. This is a determinedly premium product – prices range from £476 to £700, and all of the frames are handmade in limited quantities in Japan, from the finest possible materials of their kind.
The frames have names familiar from the geography of LA. The launch stock at Dover Street Market includes the Rodeo sunglasses (£605), Beverly frames (£530-£570) and Mulholland shades and opticals (£530-£570). The shapes are pure Hollywood Hills – the unisex Rodeo is a semi-rimless aviator with precious-metal plating and a removable top bar, while the women’s Beverly has a 1950s cat-eye silhouette that also takes inspiration from the wire frames of the 1980s. The Mulholland is bookish and preppy, with an adjustable temple. The designs are contemporary yet nostalgic and personal.
As Garrett explains: “Mr Leight honours my father’s era. I am inspired by the feeling, the energy, the moment in time when my father was first creating Oliver Peoples. For him, it was a time of freedom to blaze his own trail.”